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Down Syndrome Awareness Week: Surprises, socks, and a special guest in New Haven

The Chapel Haven living and learning community is participating in activities highlighting people of all abilities

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — In many ways, AJ Reilly is your typical eight-year-old.

“He loves Power Rangers, he loves he loves ninja kids, he loves Disney,” said Anthony Reilly, whose son has Down Syndrome. 

But what mom and dad say makes their favorite Red Ranger extra special are the superpowers that he has all his own.

“I love that he can kind of read situations,” said Desiree Reilly, mom to AJ. “He knows when you need that extra hug, that extra smile.”

FOX61 first met AJ when First Lady Jill Biden visited Meriden. It was then that he saw himself on TV for the first time, and screamed with joy as he saw his face on the big screen. 

So, we knew we had to invite him to be our special guest for Down Syndrome Awareness Week festivities at Chapel Haven in New Haven.

“I think it is so important to have Down Syndrome Awareness, to put a face with the diagnosis,” said Desiree “I think we have come a really long way, and the Down Syndrome Association of Connecticut has helped with that, but as parents, we want people to see AJ as the precious human being he is, he is more than just Down Syndrome, and I really appreciate you guys and Fox 61 News for spreading that awareness.”

The Chapel Haven living and learning community is participating in activities highlighting people of all abilities. From a Rock Your Socks 5k to a silly socks fashion show that we broadcast on the FOX61 morning news. 

“We are celebrating World Down Syndrome Awareness Spirit Week at Chapel Haven Down Syndrome Awareness Spirit Week at Chapel Hill, and one of our days is devoted to wearing your silly, miss-matched socks, which is really a symbol of starting a conversation with people about Down Syndrome Awareness,” said Catherine Sullivan DeCarlo from Chapel Haven.

The Reilly family says conversations are key, especially for families who are new to their world.

“People with Down Syndrome have full wonderful lives,” said Anthony. “So I would say, if anything, enjoy the journey.”

You can learn more at Chapel Haven's website and Down Syndrome Association of Connecticut's website.



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