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World Down Syndrome Day: Bath student educates classmates

BATH, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - March 21 marks World Down Syndrome Day.

A day of awareness and educating people about the genetic disorder.

One fourth grader in Bath took it upon himself to do just that at Dana Lyon Middle School.

Kellen Stermole shared his story to his classmates about living with down syndrome with his brother Mclane by his side.

"We were just trying to get them to understand the meaning of down syndrome and that down syndrome is not a sickness and they cannot get down syndrome unless they're born with it," Mclane said.

Ever since Kellen's diagnosis, his father Leo has set out to change perceptions about people with the genetic disorder.

"Kids with down syndrome are no different than anybody else and we're really trying to spread the message of acceptance," he said.

Leo designed and sold shirts for students and teachers to wear on World Down Syndrome Day, he tells 18 News he is thankful the school gives his son a place to learn and simply be himself.

"We're so proud of the kids that he interacts with and how they interact with him, how they accept him and the fact that he's able to play sports with them, participate in all of the different academics that they do." 

Kellen made quite the impression with the whole class, making them laugh but has one common goal: awareness.

"Kellen has learned so much from us but I think we've learned more from him and what he shows us everyday and how hard he works and the kindness he shows us," said teacher Todd Drozeski. 

About $300 was raised from selling the t-shirts, the money will be donated to the Down Syndrome Network in the Southern Tier.

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