Saturday, April 13, children from The Upside of Downs organization participated in Danie’s Day in the IM Gym. Danie’s Day gave children with Downs Syndrome and their parents and siblings a chance to interact with college students, doing various fun activities such as playing corn hole, dancing, bowling and hula hooping.
Many different student and community organizations, such as Sigma Phi Epsilon, the Arrupe Scholars Program and the Latin American Student Association, supported this event in memory of Danielle Rose, a sophomore in the Arrupe Scholars program who passed away earlier this school year.
Some students ran the different stations for the event, and other students were given the opportunity to be “buddies” with the children for the day. The “buddies” took the children to each station and interacted with them throughout the entire day.
Sam Barsa, the graduate assistant for the Arrupe Scholars program, stated that the program was a way for students to remember Danie, because working with children with disabilities was something that was important to her.
“Danie’s sister has Downs Syndrome, and the Arrupe class of 2015 wanted to do something to honor her,” Barsa said. “Since working with children with Downs Syndrome was important to Danie, the students thought that having this type of program would be the best way to honor Danie’s memory. Many other student organizations heard about this idea and decided to partner with the Arrupe Scholars to support it.”
Barsa became involved in Danie’s Day because of her job as the graduate assistant for the Arrupe Scholars program. However, she also had a relationship with Danie and liked that this event would involve many students.
“I really liked that I saw many different students involved with this event. It was great to see so many students that I didn’t know getting involved,” said Barsa.
Barsa spoke about her favorite part of the event saying, “ It brought a different population to campus and gave students an opportunity to interact with the children. I also liked that the children’s parents had a chance to relax and see a great side of college students.”
Students who volunteered for Danie’s Day also had a positive view of the event. Jess Yurick, a member of the Latin American Student Association, helped with the organization’s station at the event. She thought that this event benefited both the volunteer students and the participants.
“I like that the event gets students into the community and lets them and the volunteers have a relaxing and fun day,” Yurick said.
Mary Gleason, a junior in the Arrupe Scholars program, participated in this event as a “buddy.” She said that she really enjoyed interacting with her buddy and visiting all of the different stations.
“I think this benefits the volunteers because it breaks down the negativity surrounding Downs Syndrome,” said Gleason. “Volunteers see how the kids like being treated like normal kids, and it gives the kids a chance to have a break from their parents and everyday life.”
Barsa said that the event was a great success, and the Arrupe Scholars will likely hold this event annually.