Tie-Dye Party at the Rise School for World Down Syndrome Day

Story and Photos by Jan Osborn.

While considered a bit nostalgic, tiedye has started to rise in its comeback! Last Friday, Camp Crafty Parties and Benchmark Bank partnered with The Ashford Rise School of Dallas to prepare for World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) on Saturday, March 21st. WDSD is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012.

Lilly Neubauer, Founder, Camp Crafty Parties, with husband Markus Neubauer.

Lilly Neubauer, Founder, Camp Crafty Parties, with husband Markus Neubauer.

Dallas Doing Good also had the opportunity to participate in the fun.  Benchmark Bank provided the t-shirts and employee volunteers to assist Camp Crafty Parties with the colorful project. Lilly Neubauer, the founder of Camp Crafty Parties, said, “I think in a world where everyone and everything, especially the fashion industry, is consumed by uniformity and an expectation to fall in line, tie-dye or hand-dyed clothing offers some individuality and an opportunity to differentiate yourself as the wearer.”

When Lilly first opened a small business, she wanted to be intentional with any profits she was fortunate to receive.  Being able to invest back in her local community was very important to her. She shared this intention with Benchmark Bank when she opened her business checking account with them. Their local expertise and connections connected Lilly with The Ashford Rise School, one of their patronages. Lilly said that it has been such a great opportunity, and that Camp Crafty and The Ashford Rise School have worked together in a couple of different ways. Now, they are working together on World Down Syndrome Day. 

Lilly explained that she wanted to do a craft with the kids. “My first idea was with tie dye,” said Lilly. “It’s really fun and expressive, and I love the story of tie dye.  We can all attempt to fold the shirt the exact same way, but the different intricacies and how the shirt folds within itself, no matter really how we try to create the exact experience, it’s all going to look different.”


The re-birth of tie-dye has actually provided individuals with the opportunity to reclaim some of their personal identity. The process of tie-dying — tying up portions of the fabric with waxed thread so that they will not absorb the dye — means that no piece is the same.

Lilly continued that the beauty is in those differences.  “We can all look the same when it’s bound on the outside, but when we really open ourselves up, and really let ourselves be seen showing our work, that’s where you see the differences. You see how all the colors mix together.”


Lilly said when she thinks of the richness of our community, with beautiful places we have like The Ashford Rise School that celebrates differences, she felt called to complete an exciting activity. “The Ashford Rise School has such incredible occupational therapists on campus that help me develop an activity that helps the children with Down Syndrome, or any toddler, develop some essential motor skills. The Down Syndrome Community is especially focused on muscle development. So, the folding of the shirts and the grabbing of the rubber bands and the squeezing of the bottles helps with getting them familiar with finding power and their muscle tone.” Lilly continued, “Between the pride in exerting themselves here today and then the pride when they see their shirts, I’m just really excited to contribute to this.” 

Lilly started Camp Crafty with the mission to help families in Dallas connect with joy. She went on to say in our society, we have accidentally conditioned ourselves to go a little over the top with our recreational or celebratory time with our children. She admits that she was in the category of being overwhelmed in these areas. Lilly has discovered that sometimes it’s easier to outsource celebrations and is hoping Camp Crafty parties will make it simpler to outsource some nostalgia. “Simplicity is what we all grew up on. It’s good for us and it’s good for our kids,” said Lily.

Caroline Snabes, Director of Development at The Ashford Rise School of Dallas, believes that it is always important to share our model of inclusivity.  “We are not just a school for children with Down Syndrome. Both children with and without delays benefit from our program,” she said. 


Elizabeth Gorman, Speech Therapist and Educational Coordinator from The Ashford Rise School shared that the benefits of tie-dying address several development skills.

Fine motor development: squeezing the color bottles and twisting the shirts provides an intrinsically motivating opportunity to work on hand strengthening, shoulder and core muscle stability, and endurance (all of which are required for hand-writing upon entrance to kindergarten).

Language: The hands on experiences give teachers opportunities to model color names, items of clothing, verbs (dip, twist, drip, squeeze, wash, etc . . . ), adjective comparisons (wet/dry), and the opportunity to follow single step and multi-step directions.

Social skills: The children must use socially appropriate greetings with new people, solve problems and work together with their peers and adults, take turns, and communicate with each other about their experience.


World Down Syndrome Day is an opportunity to highlight the gifts that every person has to offer the world.  “At Rise, we work to recognize the talents of every single child regardless of diagnosis,” said Elizabeth. “We can list the unique qualities of every child in our school. For example, E loves music and has a remarkable ear for rhythm. R is super sensitive to the emotions of others and loves to be a helper. A knows every letter and sound in the alphabet. A chooses the book center at every opportunity and has several favorite books memorized. J hates vegetables and would love to spend the whole day coloring. J likes to chat all day with anyone. K ice skates and rides a bike. K tries to sound out words and loves Asian food. Who has a chromosomal diagnosis? Who do you want to hang out with? We ALL have the potential to make the world a better, richer, more beautiful place.  Doing so starts with seeing the gifts in others. WDSD is an opportunity to practice that way of looking at the world with deliberate intention.”


Here are five ideas for ways you can celebrate World Down Syndrome Day.

  1. Wear Odd Socks! …

  2. Be fashionable with a message! …

  3. Support a business owned by an individual with Down Syndrome! …

  4. Help advocate and educate! …

  5. Do a random act of kindness for another.


For more information on World Down Syndrome Day, go to https://www.worlddownsyndromeday2.org/.