Marc Ridel Creative

Last February at Joshua’s birthday party, the moms she knew from the Down syndrome community all asked Christie the same question: Where did Josh get all these friends?

Without even looking, Christie knew the answer. “From school.”

School. The Jordan Child & Family Enrichment Center where, for the past 2½ years, Joshua has thrived. Before that – while Christie and her husband Alejandro both pursued doctoral studies – Joshua attended a different daycare. When he struggled to keep up, the daycare’s only recourse was to place him with increasingly younger children.

Life is different at the Jordan Center. From the first day, Josh has been embraced for who he is: a curious, exuberant 4-year-old. That he has Down syndrome is barely a footnote in his story.

“The children know that Josh is different, it’s pretty easy to notice,” Christie says. “But they all play on the same playground. Joshua is invited to parties and it’s amazing how he is included.”

In the classroom, the children are always ready to help. When he doesn’t speak, they sign. When he can’t move a stool, someone steps up. And last year on World Down Syndrome Day, the whole school participated by wearing crazy socks in honor of Josh.

“We have received so much support from the Jordan Center community and we are very grateful,” Christie says. “But I think Joshua has contributed to their lives as well. The kids have learned to be more sensitive to differences. By knowing Josh, they understand his life’s message: Don’t be scared because I’m different. I’m still friends.”