Every year, around 6,000 babies in the United States are born with Down syndrome according to the Center of Disease Control. It is one of the most common chromosomal disorders in the country, affecting thousands of people both directly and indirectly.
October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, a time where the nation recognizes those affected by this disorder and celebrates our differences. For many who share a deep connection with Down syndrome through good friends, brothers and sisters, daughters and sons and parents, the goal of this month is not only to recognize those born with it but share the accomplishments and stories of those differently-abled.
That is why Dress Down for the Dawgs was conceived; to celebrate the special individuals that bring diversity and personality to our community. There are so many ways to show love and appreciation towards your friends with Down syndrome. Here are just a few ways you can spread awareness through ESP’s Dress Down campaign:
1. Show Out For Homecoming
Dress Down for the Dawgs shines brightest during football games (more specifically, UGA football games). If you’re looking to Dress Down for the first time, or you need another event to showcase your Dress Down swag, look to this Saturday, October 6th.
UGA’s Homecoming game against Vanderbilt University on Saturday night is arguably one of the most significant events of the regular season; rife with special events and homegrown traditions among fans. ESP is among that group.
The pregame will start this Friday at the Homecoming parade. ESP@UGA has been creating their own float where participants and volunteers will walk through downtown Athens with their Dress Down shirts.
In addition, Tailgate will be hosting a percentage party at 6:30 PM. If you haven’t gotten your shirt yet, this will be the best time to grab one before the game. Plus, Java Joy will be providing refreshments, and if you’ve never had their coffee before you’ll quickly become hooked.
The Homecoming festivities will be a perfect opportunity to get started during Down Syndrome Awareness Month. It is also the only home football game in October, so ESP has to come through!
2. Button Up
Every Dress Down item purchased helps serve those with Down syndrome and other mental and physical disabilities at ESP. Buttons are just one of the Dress Down products that can be purchased through our online store.
The buttons are a great option for those broke college students at just $3 a piece, or for a group of cool moms repping ESP on game day (left). They give a great pop of color to any outfit and complement Georgia red very well.
3. Mix & Match
The best thing about getting Dress Down shirts from Tailgate Georgia is the variety. Every shirt is made in-house in front of your very eyes, which means you can choose from different colors, sizes, logos, and shirt styles.
Customize your shirt in a way that best suits your personal style and stand out from the crowd.
4. Bring In Your Furry Friend
Think about it: nothing gets more attention online or on the street than cute dogs. Add a Dress Down button or sticker to your fur baby’s collar or bandana and wait for the adoration of passers-by.
Pro Tip: add a Georgia jersey to your dog’s outfit for maximum cuteness.
5. Dress Down for Preschool
Actually, there may be one contender that stacks up against cute dogs: adorable toddlers. Make your own Dress Down shirt for your little siblings or children to reach the young demographic. You can also get matching Dress Down shirts for a perfectly coordinated family photo.
Pro Tip: Take a picture of your little friend in the morning, before snack and play time ruin the shirt throughout the day.
6. Accessorize Your Accessories
Imagine you’re sitting at your local coffee shop, sipping on a latte and replying to emails on your computer. You already have the cool factor going for you, but to complete the image you need a plethora of laptop stickers to show the world your personality and interests. Putting a Dress Down sticker on your computer not only shows your love for ESP, it can pique the interest of those around you who may in turn do some research on Dress Down for the Dawgs themselves.
Stickers aren’t the only way to accessorize. There are some days where buttons just don’t go with the outfit or style you’re going for. If you don’t want to wear your buttons every day on your body, you can still show them off at school, football games or work. Pin your button to purses, clear bags for the stadium or bookbags for class. They add a little bit of personality, plus they can make your bag more recognizable from afar or in a crowd.
7. Improve Your Social Game
The most common way to engage with ESP during Down Syndrome Awareness Month is to use the hashtag #dressdownforthedawgs on Instagram. Using the hashtag shares your photo with all of the Dress Down for the Dawgs participants and ESP.
However, you can also support the cause with profile frames on Facebook. To amp up your profile picture, go to your homepage and click on the picture, then click “Add Frame” and search “Dress Down for the Dawgs” by Extra Special People, Inc.
8. Call A Friend (or two)
A celebration is always made better by surrounding yourself with friends. Coordinate with your besties to Dress Down at the same game or on the same day. Tag them in your own Dress Down posts. Not only are you sharing a cause you love with people that have the same interests, but a crowd of people also makes your Dress Down swag stand out all the more. The more buddies, the better!
9. Share The Love
If you’ve already gotten your own Dress Down swag, why not share with others? Contact your mom, your grandma, your class GroupMe, your coworkers, your neighbors–anyone– and share your reasons for dressing down.
For example, ESP@UGA has been a champion on campus for spreading the word about Dress Down for the Dawgs through social media posts and participating in local nonprofit fairs.
10. Take The Pledge
The final step of participating in Dress Down for the Dawgs is officially taking our Dress Down pledge. Filling out our pledge does a few things. First, it helps you lay out your goals and motivations for spreading awareness during Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Giving your reasons why Down syndrome is a condition that is important to you can provide new reasons to appreciate those you love who are affected by it. Second, it will allow us to send you updates and memorable moments throughout the month.
Dress Down for the Dawgs is a great way to show the public how you support those with Down syndrome, but these 10 things aren’t the only avenues to show appreciation. One of the most important ways to show support is to tell your friends and family members with Down syndrome how much you appreciate them. Help them share their experiences, and help those who are not familiar with the condition learn something new that they didn’t before. And remember to have fun along the way.