LIMA — A project that began a few years ago to raise awareness of Down Syndrome was continued Sunday in a COVID-19 safe way.
The DECA Joy Project at Lima Senior High School kicked off Sunday in the Ridge Crest Circle neighborhood. It has evolved to include all disabilities and this year highlighted individuals’ abilities rather than disabilities.
“DECA is not all just about the competitions and the projects and winning the medals. It really is about making a difference. This project in particular, you know, helping Jada, is really inspiring. I decided that I wanted to be part of it.” said Alivea Buchanan, one of the co-organizers of the event.
Jada Hood, daughter of Lima Senior High School teacher Chrissy Hood, has Down Syndrome and the DECA students gathered Sunday in their neighborhood to write positive messages in chalk on the sidewalks and then walk around the neighborhood.
“Normally there’s a big Buddy Walk at Faurot Park every year, but obviously, because of COVID, we couldn’t have that. So what we’re doing here in our neighborhood for my daughter Jada, is we’re having our own little neighborhood Buddy Walk,” said Hood.
Buchanan, Je’Niya Allen and Nakiya Sigman organized this year’s project themed: UnstoppABLE: The Power of Choice.
“For me, personally, I actually have a connection with Jada. I think it’s very important. And the thing that it promotes that it’s okay to be different and not really different, but just like us, that they can do everything that we can do,” Sigman said.
Hood agrees it’s time to look past our differences.
“I think it’s important to know that everybody has strengths and weaknesses. And rather than focus on anybody’s weaknesses, we want to draw upon what they can do and show everybody that we are more alike than we are different. I think at this time, in this climate that we’re in, it’s important to try to unite, try to bring about positive choices and, and ideals for all types of people,” Hood said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.