Our Approach

Down Country operates off three key philosophical ideals:
Every child is a gift.
Every child can learn.
Every child learns differently.

Down Country utilizes Down syndrome to provide an overview of disability awareness. It is NOT an organization for only for those affected by Down syndrome, but for the ENTIRE Tri-State community that learns outside of the box. Down Country operates as an umbrella educational and positive awareness information share uniting the differently abled/exceptionally gifted community among the three states (MO, IL, IA) comprising the Tri-State area


Our Story

Primary Mission:
Down Country operates with two goals:

1) to promote positive awareness for individuals with disabilities/exceptional abilities in the Tri-State area and

2) Facilitating the education/specialized training of teachers, therapists, administrators, doctors, nurses, support staff, families, and rural residents working with differently abled/exceptionally gifted people within the Tri-State rural community. It’s dedicated to helping provide training and promoting positive awareness for individuals of ALL abilities.


I LEARN Scholarship:

Open March 21 thru September 14

Each year ten I Learn Scholarships are awarded and announced at Down Country’s Rhinestones & Rodeo Art Auction & Dance in February. The scholarships provide 5 years of national conference funding @ $2000.00 per year with a maximum of $10,000.00 over 5 years per scholarship. The initial conference is chosen by the Board of Down Country, however, subsequent conferences are to be in the recipients area of interest pending approval by the Down Country Board. ALL Tri-State area residents (family, therapist, teachers, administrators & community members are eligible). Recipients MUST PAY FORWARD what they learn!!! Applications available online.

Down Country’s I Learn scholarship program has sent over 500 Tri‐State area residents (professionals & families) to national/international conferences such as: the Tourette SyndromeAssociation, American Academy of Cerebral Palsy & Developmental Medicine, Missouri Assistive Technology Conference, Autism Intervention conference, National Association of State Special Educators, National Down syndrome Congress Convention, International Reading Association, Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference, The Young Child With Special Needs Conference focus on Autism & Developmental Challenges, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Ed Tech Teacher Conference, CHADD Annual International Conference on ADHD, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Closing the Gap Conference on Technology, Wired Differently, and are adding MORE ALL THE TIME!!! All I Learn scholarship recipients are require to PAY FORWARD here in the Tri‐Stateswhat they learn in order to maintain their scholarships which run for 5 years.

I Speak:

Down Country brings nationally recognized speakers and exhibits to the Tri-State area and hosts local “outside the box” experts on educational, technology and/or medical issues.

Past speakers: Michael Remus, Special Education Director (Inclusion), Sean J. Smith PhD, University of Kansas (Education & Technology), Jim Faber, President of the National Down Syndrome Congress, Stacy Taylor, (Behavior), John Effinger, Missouri Assistive Technology, Dr. Jim Nuttall PhD, Katie Roe, Illinois Assistive Technology Program, Stacy Kintigh(Transitions), Suzanne Faber, Master in Public Health, MPH and Certified Nutrition and lifestyle Coach, Dr. Nathan Seaman, General Practitioner and Local Expert on Diet and Nutrition, Penni Ippenson, Cognitive Behavior Therapist and Local Expert, “I Have a Voice” display from Gigi’s Playhouse, “Million Voices” display from Gigi’s Playhouse, Karen Gaffney Self advocate/Inspirational Speaker & Swimmer, David Tolleson, Executive Director of the National Down Syndrome Congress, Marilyn Tolbert, President of the National Down Syndrome Congress, Lee Jones Self‐Advocate and many more!!!