County Fare: A 4-year-old goodwill ambassador for Nothing Down

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Lukas loves being Lukas. The 4-year-old preschooler from Adams enthusiastically attends Hoosac Valley Elementary School. He has caring classmates and teachers. His mother, Jennifer Solak, says her son simply finds joy in everyday life.

"Lukas makes us slow down; he makes us appreciate the little things. He just started to walk on his own," Solak proudly tells County Fare.

Lukas is now a bit of a celebrity in Adams, recently named one of 29 new ambassadors worldwide for Nothing Down, an organization aimed at changing the public perception of Lukas and others with Down syndrome.

"Lukas doesn't have to do anything special, just show the world who he is and what he does," Solak said about her son's new role.

Nothing Down provides support, advocacy, education and opportunities for individuals and families that have been touched by Down syndrome. Nothing Down aims to eliminate the stigma associated with the genetic disorder, according to its website, nothingdown.org.

Saturday is World Down Syndrome Day, an occasion that Lukas and school friends planned to mark Monday. The celebration is in a holding pattern, as the state has ordered all public and private schools closed for next few weeks to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

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Lukas, as you can imagine, isn't a happy camper about the school closures.

"Lukas has amazing friends, and that will help him down the road," Solak said.

Jennifer and Scott Solak say they are "lucky enough" to have, two years ago, adopted Lukas and his twin brother, Christopher, who has autism.

"There are kids out there with Down syndrome who need to be adopted," she said.

Nothing Down runs several programs supporting new and expectant parents of babies with Down syndrome. Just such parents formed Nothing Down four years ago, and already, they are seeing success.

"There's been a huge transition from the negative stigmas that were so common not too long ago. Nothing Down has produced [14] viral projects, with another big one on the way," according to nothingdown.org.

County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.


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