Westport Field Hockey Honors World Down Syndrome Day
On Sunday, March 21st, the world celebrated the Down syndrome community in the most beautiful way.
Over in Westport, the Junior Senior High School field hockey team put on a heartfelt display to bring awareness to the annual spotlight on Down syndrome and it was lead by Jacquelyn Legendre. The 22-year old field hockey player is the head coach for the Westport Junior Senior High School team and wanted to honor her 13-year-old sister Brenna, who was born with Down syndrome, so she got her players together and organized a fashion statement that speaks volumes.
"Myself and my younger sister Brook, who's a freshman on the team, wanted to do something for our younger sister Brenna who also goes to Westport Elementary," Legendre said. "We wanted to honor her along with the Down syndrome community, so we wore crazy mismatched socks, crazy patterns and colors over our shin guards, and blue and yellow shirts to represent the colors of Down syndrome awareness."
COVID-19 pushed fall sports to the spring, which the MIAA is calling the "Fall 2" season. The girls have been trying to make the season as normal as possible between the junior varsity and varsity teams and making it special for the seniors, since they were denied an entire season.
"The team's main goal is to change the team culture and make it a positive environment for the girls, so we saw World Down Syndrome Day and decided to get involved in the community to celebrate the day," Legendre said. "Obviously we couldn't celebrate on Sunday, so we did it on Monday during practice."
When Brenna showed up to the practice and saw everyone wearing colors to celebrate her, she was overjoyed.
"There was so much excitement on her face," Legendre said. "She loved seeing everyone in the colors and she felt like a queen, a celebrity."
A little over 10 years ago, Legendre's stepmom created a support group called 21 Friends in the area that started off as just a local project but has now stretched to over 100 families across the state and neighboring states.
"It's a support group that advocates for inclusion where they send people on conferences, parents included, and they throw events like Christmas parties, summer parties, and even a big event at White's where hundreds of people would attend, pre-COVID of course," Legendre said.
The team's advocation for Down syndrome awareness and diversity and accepting people for who they are is the stepping stone needed to make the world a better place and the love that Legendre and her team displayed on Monday was heartwarming.
"To my sister Brenna, I'm so proud of the young woman that she's becoming, she's very hard-working, passionate about everything she does," Legendre said. "She's kindhearted and I'm so glad that she lives in a community where's she's accepted and supported."