Tomorrow marks World Down Syndrome Day, a global awareness day that helps to highlight what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities.
In celebration of the annual day of action which has been running since 2006, Everton star Seamus Coleman and Club Ambassador Ian Snodin met participants from Everton in the Community’s Down syndrome team at Everton Free School to take part in a special game of football.
Before the game got underway, the Everton defender and former player sat down with the participants to help them in a design session as part of the #lotsofsocks campaign that runs every year as part of World Down Syndrome Day. The campaign sees the general public encouraged to wear different socks to help raise awareness around the international day and to get people talking about Down syndrome.
The group of participants then led the Blues’ duo into the sports hall where they took part in a warm-up session led by Everton in the Community coaches before starring opposite each other in a competitive and adrenaline fuelled game of football.
The Ireland international spoke to evertontv after the game and said: “I’ve really loved being here today and first and foremost I was just delighted to be asked down to get involved. Once the game got going it was great, some of the finishing of the players was brilliant and it’s something I’ve really enjoyed and although I am sweating quite a bit, it was brilliant.
“We’re a family orientated Club and we as players really enjoy coming down to be a part of it and putting smiles on people’s faces. They’ve also put a smile on myself this evening and I’ll go home happy.”
Each year the aim of World Down Syndrome Day is to help advocate for the rights, inclusion and well-being of people with Down syndrome and each year the voice of people with Down syndrome, and those who live and work with them, grows louder.
Snods also spoke to evertontv after the event and added : “That was absolutely fantastic, it’s been a pleasure to be here today. Seamus and I have just spoken after that and wow, if you can’t enjoy that with these kids, it’s just been fantastic.
“We’ve had an hour and a half with them, colouring socks for the Down syndrome awareness day, and then to see them play football and the energy they have, especially the celebrations when they’ve scored a goal, honestly it’s been an absolute pleasure to be here today with them all.”
The Everton in the Community Down syndrome team has been running for over three years and sees them train once a week and compete every other week in an open disability league. Through football, the project aims to create a multi-tier learning environment for the participants that will improve their overall physical, social and emotional abilities.
The official charity of Everton Football Club offers over 40 programmes covering a range of social issues including health, employability, anti-social behaviour, crime, education, dementia, poverty, youth engagement, youth justice and disability.
Operating 7 days a week, 365 days a year, Everton in the Community supports the most vulnerable and underprivileged members of local communities.
For more information on the work of Everton in the Community, click here.