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Students Think Up Creative Products to Support People With Down Syndrome

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A group of students in the U.S. are working together to improve the day-to-day lives of people with Down syndrome.

On August 7-10, 2015, students from 28 colleges and universities met at Northwestern University in Chicago to brainstorm ideas for products and services that could benefit people who live with Down syndrome, according to the NU website. Nearly 100 students with varied academic backgrounds got together to address issues affecting people with Down syndrome, like employment, living options and the social isolation parents feel when their children are newly diagnosed, ABC News reported.

The program at Northwestern was part of Design for America, a network of students and community members who work together to improve society on a local and national level. Each year, Design for America students choose a topic where they feel they could create a positive social impact.

To better understand the needs people with Down syndrome face and what kinds of solutions would benefit them, the students talked with people who have Down syndrome and their families. Participants then worked in teams to address the concerns they learned about and devise solutions. On the last day of the program, the groups presented their ideas to business professionals and Design for America staff.

One team designed a series of dolls modeled after well-known people with Down syndrome, according to the NU website. Another came up with a game where children with and without Down syndrome try on hats associated with different careers to help instill the idea that children with disabilities can achieve whatever they want, ABC News reported. Other ideas included care packages for parents whose children were recently diagnosed and hygiene kits to help children with Down syndrome learn to take care of themselves.

“My biggest takeaway [from the event] would probably be that [people with Down syndrome ] are just all kids trying to do the same thing that we are, but they’re being held back by normal society perceptions about Down syndrome,” Amanda Kibbel, a student participant from the University of Oregon, told ABC News in the video below. “Really, [people with Down syndrome] can do the same things with just a little bit of adaption.”

Learn more about this story in the video below:


For more information about Design for America, head here.

Originally published: August 18, 2015
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