Canadian Down Syndrome Week: Proof that inclusion benefits everyone
VICTORIA - It's Canadian Down Syndrome Week, a chance for folks to emphasize the importance of inclusion and an opportunity to celebrate people with Down Syndrome.
Cohen Mazzoni is in Grade 3 at Ecole Willows Elementary School. He has Down Syndrome and benefits from the help of an educational assistant and speech pathologist. He loves going to school and takes all the same courses as his classmates.
His teacher, Stuart Cairns, says Cohen is an important part of the class.
"I could not imagine not having Cohen in our class, because he just naturally fits in and the other kids include him in whatever they do," Cairns said. "He is just a natural fit and a natural part of our class."
Cohen's mother, Erin Mazzoni, says although including him in all the classes' activities is natural, it's also something that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
"I think inclusion is a really important part of our current society," Mazzoni said. "I think it's become an expectation for parents, and it should be an expectation that your child can attend your local school."
She adds that any concerns she and her husband had about Cohen's experience at school were quickly dispelled.
"We just had questions on how that would go for him when he entered school, what would that look like for him? But it has been amazing," Mazzoni said.