Raising Awareness For World Down Syndrome Day

Dear DSAW Family,

Happy March!! March is one of my favorite months of the year because March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day. While we celebrate the beautiful gift of Down syndrome every day, March 21st is set aside every year as an international holiday – the day the rest of the world celebrates with us. This year, we are making this celebration BIG, and we are celebrating all month long.

This month is all about awareness – raising awareness and acceptance of our amazing friends with Down syndrome. We know how incredible they are, now let’s shout it to the world!

We have some fun ideas and easy ways that you can raise awareness this month:

5th grade.JPG
  1. Raise awareness everywhere, every day!
    1. Change your cover photo to educate your friends and family about World Down Syndrome Day and how we are #morealikethandifferent. Click here to download the photo!
    2. Print out these Down Syndrome awareness cards to hand out at school, work, or local businesses. This is an easy way to spread awareness wherever you go! Click here to download the printable cards. 
    3. Share our special World Down Syndrome Day photo that we’ll post on 3-21. Stay tuned!
  2. Join us in rockin’ your crazy socks on March 21st! Crazy socks have become a symbol of World Down Syndrome Day – everyone is unique and beautiful. Use the hashtag #DSAWCrazySocks in your posts for a chance to be featured on our page!
  3. Raise money for DSAW's Statewide Parent's First Call Program with a Dimes for Down Syndrome campaign! Click here to download our printable label and tape it to a coffee can/other container. Place the containers at local businesses, your child’s classroom, or your office. The group that raises the most money will receive a pizza or donut party delivered by our Self-Advocates with Down syndrome. Send in your change, or start a fundraiser online (click here to visit the Dimes for Down Syndrome website).
  4. Find a DSAW World Down Syndrome Celebration near you!

Not only are we celebrating World Down Syndrome Day this month, but we are also launching the DSAW Statewide Parent’s First Call Program by sending materials to more than 400 medical professionals in Wisconsin, launching billboard campaigns, and unveiling our new DSAW Parent’s First Call Magazine.

When you raise awareness for Down syndrome in your local community, you are not only raising awareness for your child, neighbor, or sibling… but you are raising awareness for individuals with Down syndrome who aren’t yet born.

The termination rate for fetuses with Down syndrome is still well over 80%. Through DSAW’s awareness campaigns and the Parent’s First Call program, YOU can be an integral part of reaching expectant parents who may one day face a terrible decision.... expectant parents who may look back on your work, your joy, your hope… and decide that this life is actually very beautiful. YOU can make that difference for families and individuals with Down syndrome in Wisconsin.

So join us. Raise your voices for Down syndrome! Change your cover photo, rock your crazy socks, and participate in Dimes for Down Syndrome. Because at the end of the day, we are #morealikethandifferent.




Meet a DSAW Leader: Joy

Hi, my name is Joy Bosch, and I am the Advisory Board President for DSAW-Sheboygan and Surrounding Counties. I was born and raised in the rural Mayville area. I am married to John, and together we have 6 children, 7 grandchildren, and grandchildren #8 and #9 arriving in 2017.

When my nephew was born with Down syndrome, I searched the internet to find more information about it and came across DSAW's website. We learned all about how we could organize a walk to help raise awareness and monies for the community. A few family and friends got together and did just that -- we were delighted to raise over $3,000 our first year! Through the years, many of the walk's founding members are still involved, and we have continued to involve new community members that have helped a lot! I am proud to be part of DSAW-Sheboygan & Surrounding Counties, and hope you will consider getting involved too.

Looking Back on February 2017

Statewide Webinars

In February, we hosted two webinars for families around the state. We hosted the fourth and final part of our Speech Therapy Webinar Series, and also hosted a webinar on Financial Resources. Both webinars received accolades from parents and professionals who listened in. Didn't get a chance to listen? You're in luck - all of our webinars are recorded! Click here to access the recordings.

Chippewa Valley

Chippewa Valley hosted a Parent's Night Out and Meet and Greet with DSAW ED Dawn Nuoffer on Saturday, February 18th. Parents from across the area came out to the Green Mill for appetizers, drinks, and conversation! 



Fox Cities

The Fox Cities Chapter hosted an AWESOME Adult Night Out at the Escape Room in Appleton. And we made it through! The chapter also hosted its 2nd Annual Valentine's Dance for families. Thanks to Melanie Baeten for taking beautiful photographs!

This Spring, the Fox Cities Chapter continues to sponsor Spread The Word to End the Word campaigns around the Fox Cities area. Below is a picture from just one of these campaigns at the Taste of Oshkosh!

Finally, several of the Fox Cities Advisory Board Members attended the Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action Conference at the end of February. They listened to incredible speakers and came away with new ideas for programs, services, and events in the Fox Cities area. Stay tuned!

Green Bay

Our Green Bay Chapter hosted an Open Gym at Fusion Athletics on Friday, February 3rd, the monthly Kidz Town Playdate on February 4th, and held its first Bike Camp/Walk Meeting of the year on February 14th. Plans are coming along quickly for the rest of the year!

DSAW-Green Bay also hosted a Mom's Night Out on Sunday, February 26th. We had a great night of fun and laughter. Join us on the 4th Sunday of every month!

La Crosse

La Crosse's monthly Music Group was held on February 14th. This free class is open to children with Down syndrome ages 0 - 6 and is a great chance to be introduced to many music therapy techniques. Click here to learn more.


DSAW-Wausau hosted its first event on Saturday, February 4th. The playdate was a huge success, and families are already excited for our next events! Join us for a Mom's Coffee Date on Thursday, March 9th to get to know other moms and help plan for future events.





Greater Milwaukee Chapter & DSAW State Headquarters

DSAW-Greater Milwaukee hosted its annual Valentine's Dance on February 11th. Participants had an amazing time dancing, play games, making crafts, and enjoying a delicious pasta meal! 

Young Leaders Bootcamp
Self-Advocates joined us for a fun month of Young Leaders Bootcamp taught by our friends at the Milwaukee Center for Independence. Our topic was Communication Management - Self-advocates learned all about how to communicate in personal and professional settings. Consider signing up for our March Bootcamp

Cooking with the Kiddos
We had a great time at Cooking with the Kiddos, so much so that we've started holding class twice per month!. This class is a great time of family bonding, plus a free meal... what could be better? Join us next month.

Young Leaders Academy
Self-Advocates joined us for Young Leaders Academy twice in February. Every class involves a respite activity such as kickball or yoga, and then ends with an hour of employment-readiness curriculum. Self-Advocates are invited to join our class anytime. Consider joining us in March!

Tween Club
Tweens had a great time at February's Tween Club. We played games, made delicious treats like puppy chow, and had lots of fun playing the Wii! Many of our parents got to attend Parent's Night Out while their children had a night of fun. Join us in March! 

Parent's Night Out
Parents hung out at Club Paragon during February's Parent's Night Out. We had a blast! Join us in March!

Family Zumba
We had an AMAZING time at Zumba in February. Almost 15 children and adults joined us for the Saturday morning class. We have a volunteer Zumba instructor who makes the class fun for individuals of all ages and ability levels. Join us in March!

Family Movie Night
We had a blast watching Shrek together at our Family Movie Night. We brought sleeping bags and snuggled in for this family-favorite. Join us in March!

Self-Advocate Corner: Michelle's Poetry

Enjoy a collection of poems from one of our amazing Self-Advocates, Michelle. Michelle is currently completely an internship at DSAW, where we are working on learning office work and management, as well as working on her poetry. 

god made you smile
around you take the heart
to pray god everyday you are born
god make you smile

trust in yourself each child
be proud yourself
you are born god made you this way
just a way you are love yourself trust
in your heart

be proud yourself when you feel proud
make you smile feel hug yourself
be proud be your best friend yourself D
proud you are

love special way just a way you are
love yourself inside in your heart feel
special you are born special

Happy New Year from DSAW!

Dear Friend,

Happy New Year! As we celebrate the beginnings of 2017, I also celebrate the amazing year that is ending. You helped DSAW climb to new heights during the past year, and I’m thrilled to share our success.

In 2016, we served 4,500 individuals with Down syndrome and their families throughout Wisconsin, and countless others through our resources, webinars, and other virtual support. We continued our core programming of training medical professions on delivering a fair and compassionate Down syndrome diagnosis, helping individuals overcome obstacles through “Roadmap Sessions,” training children on what it means to be a good friend to someone with Down syndrome, and more.

But more than just continuing our core programs and services, 2016 was a year of growth and exciting changes for DSAW. We officially launched the Parent’s First Call Program, which connects new and expectant parents to resources and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our 7 Down Syndrome Awareness Walks throughout the State increased their fundraising by 23% in 2016… WOW! I’m so excited for you to see the impact this additional funding will have in your community. 

We also focused efforts on reaching families throughout the state, no matter where they live. We launched a new series of statewide webinars on important topics for families and medical professionals. We also launched a new, organized, and easy-to-use website (click around after you finish reading this post!). Finally, we moved the DSAW state headquarters to a new location in West Allis, WI. This office serves the entire state while piloting replicable programs and services in the Greater Milwaukee Area.

2016 could not have been so successful without our incredible community partners. In the Greater Milwaukee Area, we’re thankful for Bader Philanthropies, Cardinal Capital Management, the Home Depot, Dries Painting, the Racine Community Foundation, the Stackner Family Foundation, Nonprofit Management Fund, Professional Construction Inc, Trawicki Electric, Sid Grinker Restoration, Ben’s Cycles, and many other foundations and businesses. Thank you for supporting our programs and services. A special thank you to Potawatomi Bingo & Casino’s Heart of Canal Street Program for giving DSAW more than $35,000 in December! 

Thank you to the Otto Bremer Trust in La Crosse; the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin in Wausau; the Gordon Flesch Company, Green Bay Packers Foundation, LaForce Employee Giving, and Cornerstone Foundation in Green Bay; and the Lyssa and Andrew Schmidt Charitable Fund in the Fox Cities. We LOVE you all, and are so grateful for your support. Click here for a full list of our partners and sponsors around the state.

I’d also like to thank the individuals and families around the state who make our work possible. Thank you to the DSAW State Board, the Chapter Advisory Boards, all of our top fundraising teams at the walks, and our 800+ statewide volunteers. As a member and volunteer-driven organization, you are the backbone that supports everything we do. Thank you!!

2016 was an amazing year for DSAW, and I’m confident that 2017 will build upon this past success. At the end of 2016, we finalized DSAW’s new 5-Year Strategic Plan, which will guide DSAW through its planned growth and change over the next 5 years. We have reorganized the way we talk about our programs and services, and the way we approach our fraternal support. More than anything, we want to be known as an organization that supports the entire state of Wisconsin. No matter where you live, DSAW is here to help you and your family. No programs or services nearby? Get in touch with us to start a Parent/Grandparent Support Group, Coffee Club, Monthly Playdate, Mom’s Night Out, or other activity near you. Read more about our 5 Year Strategic Plan here.

Looking ahead, I am filled with hope. Individuals with Down syndrome and their families are more prepared than ever before in history to lead rich and rewarding, meaningful lives… but an agency like DSAW must be at the forefront of cutting-edge programming, individually designed to help them excel at school, at home, in the community, and to prepare them for an independent life with housing, supports, and income. Because of your support, Wisconsin is on its way to becoming the best-supported state for individuals with Down syndrome. We have big things ahead of us in 2017. With your support, I know that anything is possible.

Thank you for investing your time, talent, and treasure in DSAW’s future!


Dawn Nuoffer
Executive Director
Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin

A Look Back on December 2016

The month of December was full of holiday cheer and new programs and events throughout the state. Check out what we've been up to!

Fox Cities

Fox Cities Holiday Party
On December 3, Santa welcomed forty-eight (48) families of children with special needs from the Fox Cities for the Santa Celebration hosted by WisconSibs, Inc and DSAW Fox Cities. A record attendance of more than 120 children with disabilities and their siblings, 78 adults, and 60 volunteers played games, decorated cookies, made new friends, and got some lap-time with Santa. 

This was the 13th year that WisconSibs has offered the event.  Spirited volunteers from high schools, businesses and the Humane Society, financial support from the Appleton Rotary and DSAW Fox Cities, and in-kind gifts from Fleet Farm, make it possible to host the event and provide a gift from Santa for each child attending. 

Chippewa Valley

Chippewa Valley Holiday Party
We had a wonderful time at the annual holiday party, including visits & presents with Santa, horse-drawn carriage rides in the snow, food, music, and lots of fun. Thanks for everyone who helped make this another memorable event!

La Crosse

La Crosse Holiday Party
Families attended the La Crosse Holiday Party (despite the bad weather!) to enjoy food, crafts, and holiday music. Santa also visited and passed out presents (& hugs) to the children. Thanks to everyone who attended and helped spread holiday cheer!

Greater Milwaukee Chapter & DSAW State Headquarters

Milwaukee Holiday Party
More than 250 people attended the annual Greater Milwaukee Holiday Party on Saturday, December 3rd. We held the party in the Nathan Hale High School Cafeteria, which was a perfect location! Santa made an appearance to hand out presents to each child, and we enjoyed a taco/nacho bar, hot chocolate, cookies, and plenty of crafts and games. We also spent plenty of time dancing with our favorite DJ. Check out photos from the event here.

Milwaukee Self-Advocate Shopping Event
Self-Advocates with special needs and volunteers from Caroll University and New Berlin West High School joined us for an afternoon of Holiday Present Shopping. Everyone had a great time buying presents for loved ones. And of course, we also grabbed coffee and gelato! Thanks for everyone who made this a fun event.

Motor Skill Playgroup
Enroll today for our twice-monthly motor skills playgroup, taught by a certified Occupational Therapist! This program is for kids 6 and under. While your kiddo is having fun, you can join us for coffee club!


Grandparents Support Group
A note from our group facilitators: "Hello. We’re Jim and Robbie Fackelman and we will be facilitating the Grandparent’s Support Group.  We are the proud grandparents of four year old, James. James lives in Conifer, Colorado with his mom and dad and eighteen month old brother, Robert. James has been a gift to our whole family.  He has taught all of us what pure love, kindness, and acceptance means.  James has made our lives better because of his ability to make us stop and enjoy every single moment, every kiss, every hug, and every accomplishment.

We are very anxious to hear your stories and to share your photos. The Grandparent’s support group is a place where we can share resources, tips, books, articles, new advances, and ways to be involved in DSAW and the Down Syndrome community.  We will be meeting on the first Tuesday of each month from 4:00 to 5:00 at the DSAW office, but because of the holiday in January, our meeting will be on January 10.  Every grandparent is welcome.  We want to get to know you and your grandchildren, make new friendships, and support each other in our journeys." Join us in January!!



Young Leaders Bootcamp
Self-Advocates joined us for Young Leaders Bootcamp this month on Communication Management. Consider signing up for our January Bootcamp!

Cooking with the Kiddos
We had a great time at our first month of Cooking with the Kiddos. We made a full meal together and then got to enjoy the hard work! This class is a great time of family bonding, plus a free meal... what could be better? Join us next month.



Young Leaders Academy
Self-Advocates joined us for Young Leaders Academy twice in December. We are still working our way through the Job Skills Training curriculum, but we will start a new lesson soon. This is the perfect time to jump into our course -- consider joining us in January!

Tween Club
Tweens had a great time at December's Tween Club. We played foursquare, gym games, and had lots of fun playing the Wii! We also had an awesome nacho bar. Many of our parents got to attend Parent's Night Out while their children had a night of fun. Join us in January

Parent's Night Out
Parents hung out at the Brass Tap during December's Parent's Night Out. We had a blast! Join us in January at Club Paragon in Greenfield.

Family Zumba
We are excited to dive into Zumba in the coming months! We have a volunteer Zumba instructor who is ready to instruct our families in this fun and family-friendly activity. Join us in January!

Spanish-Speaking Support Group
Multiple families joined us for this month's Spanish-Speaking Support Group! We had a great time. Join us in January!

Family Movie Night
We got snowed out for our family movie night this month, but we're excited for January's movie - Frozen! 

Milwaukee Wave Game
About 40 people joined us for the Milwaukee Wave Game on Saturday, December 17th. Thanks to our AMAZING partners Profession Construction Inc, tickets were free, and families received food and beverages too! In addition, some of our families participated in special activities before the game. Thanks so much, PCI!

A New Website and a New Era for DSAW

By Dawn Nuoffer, DSAW Executive Director

I am excited to announce the official launch of DSAW’s new website. This website has been a work-in-progress for a number of months, and we’re thrilled to share the final product with you. I encourage you to take a look around at the beautiful photographs (you might see you or your loved one!), updated gold-star resources, and a reorganized, fresh take on who DSAW is and what we do.

Our website launch couldn’t be more perfectly timed: we have just finalized DSAW’s new 5-Year Strategic Plan, which will guide DSAW through its planned growth and change over the next 5 years. We will continue to be an organization that is first and foremost built on fraternal support, but we will incorporate new and exciting components into those offerings.

Our programs and services will now be organized around eight areas: Statewide Fraternal Support, Statewide Parent’s First Call, Statewide Medical Training, Statewide DSAW-Family Services, Statewide Education Services, Statewide Down Syndrome Awareness, Statewide Advocacy, and the DSAW State Headquarters. Overall, we hope this reorganization sends a crucial message to families and individuals across the state: no matter where you live, DSAW is here to support you.  

While we will continue to utilize our effective Chapter system, we have incorporated incremental levels of support from the individual, all the way up to the Chapter level. We believe that in doing so, we can more effectively serve people whether they are in the smallest, most rural areas of the state, or a major metropolitan area like Milwaukee.  We have structured ourselves to serve people across four different “levels” – Individuals, Parent Support Groups, Regional Committees, and DSAW Chapters. Read more about these four levels here.

In addition to our vital Fraternal Support, DSAW will continue focusing on the key areas that are essential to our mission: Parent’s First Call to reach new and expectant parents, Medical Training to educate medical professionals about delivering a fair and compassionate Down syndrome diagnosis, DSAW-Family Services to help individuals with individualized direct services and support, and Down syndrome Advocacy and Awareness. Now, we’re excited to add replicable, niche, and model programming to this list.

At our West Allis-based DSAW State Headquarters, we serve the entire state of Wisconsin while piloting replicable programs and services in the Greater Milwaukee Area for implementation by families across the state. We will start by hosting programs for families (Family Movie Nights, Zumba Class, and Cooking with the Kiddos), parents (New Parent Support Group, Spanish Speaking Support Group, Alzheimer's Support Group, Autism Spectrum Support Group, Grandparents Support Group, Mommy & Me Yoga, and Coffee Club), little ones (Motor Skill Workshop, Speech Therapy), tweens (Tween Club, Family Activity Days, Cooking with the Kiddos), and Self-Advocates ages 15 and older (Drivers Education, Tech Skills Class, Young Leaders Bootcamp, Young Leaders Academy, and Club DSAW).

These exciting programs and services will not solely be available in Milwaukee. Through our more organized volunteer/fraternal support model, we can launch programs just like these all over the state in the next 5 years. Programs that help individuals with Down syndrome learn crucial skills and build relationships with their peers, programs that connect families together for fraternal support, and programs that create lifelong community memories. 

The Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin is looking forward to a bright future for the individuals and families that we serve. Through our programs, services, and events, we’re confident that Wisconsin can be the best-supported state in the nation for individuals with Down syndrome. We hope you continue to join us on this journey. Click here to start at our new website’s homepage and take a look around – not just at our new website, but at DSAW’s future. I think you’ll like what you see.