Three Lima Senior DECA students have taken on a project to raise awareness about Down syndrome, a project that is very dear to their teacher.
Seniors Tatyanna Talbert, Otisha Calhoun and Jalinda Houston started Spread Jada’s Joy, a public relations campaign named after Jada Hood, the 1-year-old daughter of DECA Teacher Chrissy Hood. Jada’s dad, James Hood, runs the digital academy at Lima Senior.
The Hood family found out Jada had Down syndrome when she was born just over a year ago. They knew nothing about Down syndrome until then and are committed to creating more awareness about it.
The three students came to Hood at the beginning of the school year and said they wanted to do the project for Jada. It was the perfect fit.
“This is pretty special to me,” Chrissy Hood said. “It was very touching. A personal bond with them was formed instantly.”
For the students, it was simple: they wanted to show their teacher and her family that they care.
“I have had classes with Mrs. Hood for three years,” said Calhoun, who has a cousin with Down syndrome. “I wanted to let her know that I really care and support her.”
“Mrs. Hood has opened up her family to us,” Houston said. “We want to show her that we care and that she has our support.”
Students hope children like Jada know that while they are very special, they are just like other kids.
“I have an aunt who is autistic, so I can relate a little bit to what Mrs. Hood is going through,” Talbert added. “This really hit home.”
Students first created the campaign name and logo (a take on Jada’s name – Jada Joy). The logo appears on shirts sold at school and will be worn by the Hoods and supporters at the Sept. 30 Buddy Walk, put on annually by the Down Syndrome Association of Western Ohio.
The walk will be at Faurot Park. Registration begins at 10 a.m. All are welcome.
Students sold more than 100 shirts, with proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House and the Lima Host Lions Club, organizations that helped the Hoods and countless other families.
The three students will have a booth at the walk. It will include face painting, free stress balls a wreath raffle (blue and yellow – the colors associated with Down syndrome) and a place for people to donate.
Students will soon be collecting aluminum can tabs to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House and used eyeglasses for the Lions Club. Many children with Down syndrome have vision problems. Students also hope to spend some time volunteering at a Ronald McDonald House, possibly preparing a meal for families.
Collection bins for the tabs and glasses will be located at Lima Senior. The students hope other businesses will request a bin to collect as well. To request a bin or to make a monetary donation, call Hood at 419-308-1188.
The project will continue throughout the year with other ways to raise money possibly coming later. Every year, DECA students work on projects that they take to competition. The Spread Jada’s Joy project is no different.
“This is more of an emotional project than I have had in the past,” Hood said. “It is so close to my heart. It just makes it even more meaningful.”