By: Rachael Staley
I would like to introduce you to a little girl whose smile can light up a room. Jada is a 21-month-old little girl who receives Early Intervention Services through Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Jada’s parents both work at Lima City Schools. Her mom, Chrissy, is the high school marketing instructor at Lima Senior High School.
Part of her marketing responsibility is the DECA program, which expands upon the marketing curriculum by allowing the students to put their marketing knowledge into practice. Each year the students design a project to implement and carry out. Last year’s project was titled, Jada’s Joy.
Jada was born with Down Syndrome. Shortly after her birth, Jada’s parents along with the Lima Senior DECA group, created an outreach program they called “Jada’s Joy”. This program was designed to reach all new parents in Allen County that have a child born with Down Syndrome. Jada’s Joy provides a care package to the family that includes: lotion for mom, books of encouragement for parents, links to local groups, small toys and adaptive spoons for the baby.
The students fully embraced this project to support new parents and raise awareness of Down Syndrome. They have held their own fundraisers to assist in purchasing the items for the care packages. The students presented their program at the state level and received first place, which earned them a trip to the National DECA Competition in Atlanta, Georgia. These students traveled to Atlanta and made a presentation on Jada’s Joy. Although they didn’t place at Nationals, the outcome is larger than receiving a trophy at the National Level.
“These students will forever have a connection to our family,” notes Jada’s mom, Chrissy. “They made this much more than a competition; they completely embraced my family!”
The students that completed this project graduated in 2018, but there are already new students ready to continue their outreach for this amazing family. In fact, they are calling next year’s project “We Are More Alike Than Different.”
Jada has brought so much joy to her family. And through the work of Lima Senior students, she is able to bring joy to so many others. We appreciate how the Lima Senior High School DECA Students have loved on the Hood Family and for the awareness they have brought to the needs of families with a child who has Down Syndrome. We also appreciate the Hood family, for being Jada’s biggest advocates and creating joy and hope for other families in Allen County. Thanks for sharing your story with all of us!