Students screen Down Syndrome documentary

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by Regina Mobley, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on March 21, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 21 at 6:41 PM

NORFOLK--The ABC show " Life Goes On" broke ground back in the 1990's when Chris Burke became the first person with Down Syndrome to star in a sitcom.  Each week viewers followed along as "Corky" and his family dealt with the struggles and joys of having a child with Down Syndome.

The show was beamed into homes just as the nation was experiencing a spike in the number of children born with DS each year. 

According to the Centers For Disease Control, the prevalence of DS jumped 31 percent betweeen 1979 and 2003. Today, more than 400,000 adults and children in America have the disorder.

Nine-year-old Gus Zaletski of Norfolk is a star at home, on the basketball court and at Larrymore Elementary School in Norfolk despite having Down Syndrome. Gus and his friends gathered in the school auditorium on World Down Syndome Day for a screening of the documentary "Just Like You." The eight-minute video explores the life, hopes and challenges of three teenagers living with DS.

The screening was organized by Gus's grandmother, who calls herself a grandmother on a mission. "They [teachers] will be able to take it back to the classrom, and talk about it a little more, and get them [the students] on the right path to increased understanding. This will lead to acceptance, inclusion and friendship," said Melissa Zaletski.

"Just Like You" is a nonprofit organization that partnered with the Down Syndrome Guild of
Greater Kansas City.  The DS edition hopes to answer questions about medical concerns, commuication difficulties and the learning needs of DS children.

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