Kinard Auditorium was packed with Winthrop students on October 27 for Down Syndrome Today. The event was held in honor of October’s National Down Syndrome Awareness month which raises awareness of Down syndrome and makes people aware of their accomplishments.
The event featured documentaries about people living with Down syndrome and their way of combating daily challenges like getting married or having a job. It also discussed the issue of people with these syndromes being treated like everyone else.
Dr. Jennifer Wall, director of Winthrop Think College, helped organize the cultural event with the purpose of getting students to know more about their program and what their true mission is.
“Winthrop Think College is a post-secondary program for students with intellectual developmental disabilities here on campus,” Wall said. “Tonight’s actual event was around the idea that our friends with Down syndrome we’re looking at them and including because of their abilities not their disabilities.”
The audience laughed, awed and cheered on fellow students Shanika Bonipart and Amber Wesson as their energy hyped up the room. Both students are part of the program and are very talented ladies who want to be seen as equal as everyone else in the world. Bonipart explained her favorite thing about Winthrop.
“The best thing about college is helping people and when they come in and join our campus,” Bonipart said.
Sarah Berry, a peer mentor of Think College, was also there to help promote the event and was grateful for the success of the of the event.
“I really enjoyed it. Amber and Shanika led it and talked about it and advocated for Down syndrome and I thought this event went really well”.
Berry also addressed the attitudes that many people have towards people with Down syndrome.
“We should treat them like our friends. They are our equal and people are people and we should treat them as such.” Berry said.
Taylor Rolt, another peer mentor thoroughly enjoys her experience with the program.
“My best experience would be having these students, not be a job to work with, but become my best friends. I get to hang out with students with intellectual students and they are my best friends,” Rolt said.
More information can be found in the Think College’s offices in Withers. They are always looking for more help. They will be competing in the Spring 2017 Special Olympics and will be holding fundraisers in the future for the Special Olympics.