PHS students show respect for people with disabilities

PARKERSBURG – Bright, mis-matched socks were all the rage at Parkersburg High School on Friday as students showed their support for people with disabilities.

“This is all about supporting people and I want to show that I will support everyone,” said senior Lauren Snyder.

The Pledge to Respect Everyone was available for students to sign during lunch in the cafeteria with school officials and others from The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley and Westbrook Health Services.

The event was organized by The Arc originally as part of World Down Syndrome Day, according to Doug Hess with the organization.

The event was organized by local students Madelon Kerns from PHS, Olivia Smith and Breeahna Lieving from Blennerhassett Middle School and Matthew Fox from Williamstown High School as a way to get their schools involved.

Although the event and pledge was only at PHS, the other two schools handed out flyers to encourage students to respect everyone.

This pledge came about as part of World Down Syndrome Day to raise global awareness and lend a voice to those with Down syndrome as well as others who live and work with them. From the one cause came the idea to include everyone with something that makes them different, Hess said.

“I have seen and heard other kids and adults use words that are hurtful and disrespectful to individuals with disabilities,” said Smith. “My sister has Down syndrome and I want her to be treated with respect.”

As for the colorful and unmatching socks, the idea came because they wanted the kids to show something different that was fun and a way to know those who had joined their cause.

“People like fun things and this is fun, easy to do and you learn to respect everyone,” said Kerns. “The purpose of wearing non-matching socks is because we all have differences and, those differences should be accepted and respected.”

This is another reason Snyder enthusiastically signed the pledge.

“I was born without my left hand and a lot of people don’t understand these kind of things,” Snyder said. “By respecting everyone, we can all feel better about ourselves.”

While this is the first year for the event, Hess said the hope is to expand the pledge to other schools next year.

“I know the kids hope to include more schools in Wood County next year,” he said.

The event was March 21 because the congenital disorder of Down syndrome is caused by having an extra 21st chromosome.