Mother's mission to educate students that those with Down syndrome are "amazing friends"
BLAINE, Minn. -- Tuesday is World Down Syndrome Day, a day for awareness that has been officially observed by the United Nations for more than a decade now.
One Blaine mother is on a mission to help educate students about the condition, as well as how they should interact with their peers who have it. Behind her story is a friendship worth celebrating.
Sana Soussi is the mother of Salim, a third grade student who has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. Salim's best friend in school is Sofia.
"My favorite thing about Salim is that he is really kind and gives lots of hugs and his smile is so big on his face and he has just a really warm heart," Sofia said.
The two schoolmates have been best friends since kindergarten.
"She is helping him go to places, handing papers to him," Sana Soussi said. "I noticed she was doing it not the baby way, she was not babying him. She was doing it the right way. She was helping him, and I like that."
She and Salim's father want more children to follow suit.
"Maybe it's a little bit weird to them, a little bit different, just to understand he is a normal kid just like everybody else," Ahmed Soussi said.
Sana Soussi is making that point on the big stage at DaVinci Academy in Ham Lake. She even had a pediatrician to explain what the extra chromosome is all about. She has hopes this lesson will carry on down the road.
"I want them to understand that Down syndrome is not scary or something judge of or fear. I want them to understand kids with Down syndrome are amazing friends, they are social, they are the best friends you could ever ask for," she said.
In the moment WCCO caught up with them, Salim and Sophia said they have big plans coming up. They can't wait to go swimming together this summer.
"Sofia and me are best friends, I love her too," Salim said.
There are 4,500 Minnesotans like Salim who have a Down syndrome diagnosis.
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