Today is World Down Syndrome Day and a Winkler mom, Tracey Dyck, wants people to think about how wonderful March 21st can be.

Two of Tracey's children, Elijah and Madylynn (Madi) were born with Down Syndrome. Thirteen-year-old Madi is in grade 9 at Winkler's Garden Valley Collegiate, and Elijah is in grade 6 at Parkland Elementary School.
Tracey says the siblings are thriving, and bring joy to their family and the people around them.

"It was a little difficult with Madelynn, she was born prematurely. She was born at 33 weeks," Tracey responded when asked about the challenges faced when Madi was born. "We had our normal NICU stay, and challenges that way, and she's had some other challenges as she grew. She has a mild hearing loss and has dealt with some hearing aids that she uses, and also wears glasses."

Tracey says Madelynn also deals with verbal challenges, but that doesn't stop her from communicating.

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"Her iPad that she uses to communicate with us, she's very good with that. She very much communicates her wants and her needs through it." 

Tracey added some of Madi's struggles have been with her hearing, but they're hopefully going to get some advancements for her, possibly with a BAHA hearing device." 

"Elijah, on the other hand, struggles verbally but has come a long way. He's very social, he loves to say hi to anybody. We just talked about this yesterday, how there's no discrepancy with him. It doesn't matter, young, old. Anyone is someone that he loves to talk to." 

Tracey says the siblings share a unique and special bond.

Madi with her younger sister.Madi with her younger sister.

"They have quite a unique bond. They are very empathetic to one another. Elijah will often reach out his hand to Madi, and Madi will hold his hand. They have a very loving relationship. Their siblings as well. I can't say that enough. They have wonderful siblings that help them, and love to have that relationship with them." 

Last fall, Madelynn transitioned to high school, leaving Elijah behind at Parkland Elementary.

"It's going well. At the start, it was a bit of a struggle, but she's connected well with her peers, EAs, and teachers. And she's having a lot of fun, especially in drama class," Tracey chuckled.

Elijah enjoying a ride on his older brother's shoulder.Elijah enjoying a ride on his older brother's shoulder.

And how is Elijah doing at Parkland?

"I think he thoroughly enjoys it. I just heard yesterday how he is doing the announcements for the school through the PA system. So that's something new, and the kids are just loving it, and he is loving it. He loves being at school." 

Tracey said Madelynn has a love for music. The first language she learned was ASL (American Sign Language), 

"One of the gifts she uses, while we have music going she will sign the whole song. That's one of her gifts." 

"Elijah. He's very comical. He loves to make you laugh," 

"They both have incredible memories. But, Elijah personally will remember every face that he sees. And he'll have his own unique "hi" for everybody." 

Healthwise, Tracey said Madi and Elijah are both doing well. "We're finally at a better place. Madi struggled a lot when she was younger. We had a lot of hospital stays for RSV and different lung infections...But I would say over the last five years, they've both been doing pretty good."

"I had a great community around me that helped me, especially with being in the hospital longer for her, and for me. It was a great support system. And just the community - It always takes a village. And I feel like that's what I got."