Photos by Jamie Plain
Hayden VanHoosier is known as the Mayor of Tamarack Elementary School. Pretty good for someone who is only in first grade.
With bright blue eyes and rosy red cheeks, Ayden always looks happy, warm and inviting to others.
Carrie Munsey, principal of Tamarack, said Ayden, who has Down syndrome, is always the life of the party.
“Ayden loves to sing, dance, and perform for the office staff,” Munsey said. “His captivating smile is so infectious that the hardest of hearts will melt.”
All Tamarack students, kindergarten through fifth grade, know Ayden. He is known for being a constant source of entertainment for others – singing, giving big hugs, and a huge smile.
Always looking for a laugh, Ayden loves to imitate Munsey and pretend he is principal of the school. He especially gets a kick out of calling other staff members in the school building.
Munsey said Ayden loves the school’s custodian, Mr. Ricky, and Charlotte Davis, who is the after school director and a lunchroom monitor.
“He loves every teacher in the building and every student knows Ayden’s name,” Munsey said.
Munsey said Ayden loves visiting the principal, assistant principal, secretary and bookkeeper on his daily rounds. He takes his role very seriously and always wants to bring a smile to others.
“Ayden loves the school intercom, speaker phone, and microphone in the office,” she said. “He is our enjoyment on any bad day. He is our ray of sunshine.”
The faculty and staff at Tamarack want all children to be a part of an enriching and loving environment at Tamarack.
“All means each at Tamarack,” Munsey said.
Britt Cobb, executive director for the Green River Area Down Syndrome Association said Ayden was her first new member after she took the job.
“I had just gotten this job in July and my first call was from a woman named Rebecca who had just heard about GRADSA,” Cobb said. “She introduced me to her son Ayden and he was my first new member. I couldn’t believe there was a kid with Down syndrome in the area who was not involved with the organization.”
Cobb said after joining GRADSA, Ayden really started to shine.
“He is definitely the life of the party,” she said. “He is a rambunctious little boy who definitely knows how to hold his own.”
Locally, GRADSA’s mission is to enable families enriched with Down syndrome the connection to share resources, build friendships, and advocate together for the future of individuals with Down Syndrome. They are located in Owensboro,but serve the counties of Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, McLean, Ohio, Union, and Webster.
If you want to support the Down syndrome community World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated on March 21, and is a day dedicated to all individuals with Down syndrome. The date for World Down Syndrome Day being the 21st day of the 3rd month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.