South Jersey family spreading positive message on World Down Syndrome Day

VOORHEES, N.J. (WPVI) -- If you saw a lot of people wearing crazy socks but weren't sure why, it's for World Down Syndrome Day - a day to raise awareness about accepting differences.

One family in South Jersey is helping spread the message.

Little Lila Steffen was the star of the show inside Miss Mahon's first-grade class at Osage Elementary School in Voorhees, New Jersey.

Big sister Ella, with her brother Jack, wanted to introduce Lila to her classmates for World Down Syndrome Day. The kids had colored welcome flyers and were sporting crazy socks in honor of the day.

Parents Kristen and Tom say Lila is an ambassador for "Nothing Down: A global campaign showing the positive side of Down Syndrome.

At 22 months old, Lila is friendly and loving. She walks and signs to communicate.

"When we know Ella's bus is coming she signs 'bus.' So, it's not as sad as it's made out to be. It's not sad at all, really. She just makes us so proud and she's made us all better people," said Kristen.

The message today is simple.

"That you need to accept others for who they are, and we explain that they're all different too," said Ricki Mahon, first grade teacher at Osage Elementary.

And it's especially helpful to be doing this in first grade, which is the foundation for their education. It helps instill the message of acceptance and being kind throughout their lives.
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