News From Princeton

Our very own Jenni Newbury organized an incredible Down Syndrome Awareness conference at Princeton University over the weekend. Laura Karp, a two-time counselor, was there. She details her experiences during the conference in the piece below.

Breaking Down Barriers!

Well, Jenni outdid herself once again. This year’s Down syndrome Conference at Princeton was AWESOME. Each of the children and teenagers was paired up with a volunteer who remained at their side for the entire day. The pairs were put into groups by ages and had a BLAST at the Carnival, while their parents listened to speakers and checked out cool booths pertaining to Down syndrome (one of which featured Camp PALS!).

My day began at 6:30 AM when I woke up to catch a train from D.C. to Trenton, NJ. After that I took one to Princeton Junction, and then a “Dinky” (actual name) to Princeton University. As you can imagine, I was quite ecstatic by the time I reached the Friend center at 11 and saw Jenni’s bright red hair! She sent me over to the Frist Center where the Carnival was being set up. There were rooms for everything you can imagine. We had arts and crafts, face painting, story-telling, special Olympics, parachute games, outside play, puzzles, snacktime and more! Each room was decorated with streamers and balloons of all colors.

Even more exciting was checking the rooms to see if all the volunteers had shown up; there were six counselors (Jenni, Josh, Connor, Evan, Emily, and Kelly) and at least ten campers in attendance! The groups hung out at the Carnival with their peers and volunteer buddies from noon to 5 PM.

All the kids were having the greatest time of their lives. They played, made art, made friends and got a chance to run outside. The volunteers were all smiles and (though tired out by the end) loved every minute of it. When parents started arriving at 5, buses brought us over to Jadwin (the basketball arena) where we had a fantastic dinner, saw wonderful performances by Princeton’s oldest male and female a capella groups, and watched an adorable slideshow of all the kids.

The families all seemed to really enjoy the conference. The speakers were phenomenal and sparked lots of conversation over dinner. The parents were so pleased that their kids were well taken care of and had such a fun day while they were able to enjoy the company of people in similar situations as themselves.

After Jenni and Connor gave a speech thanking everyone for coming, they opened the doors to show off the magnificent dessert: a chocolate fountain! Everyone was so excited; they ran over to enjoy their delicious snack, a perfect ending to a perfect day.