Every year, on March 21st, individuals with Down Syndrome, as well as their families, friends, coworkers, communities and governments, celebrate their extra chromosome and advocate for those individuals.
Here is a history of World Down Syndrome Day, an overview of what World Down Syndrome Day is and how one can participate.
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World Down Syndrome Day officially became an internationally recognized day by the United Nations General Assembly to participate in activities that raise awareness for the “rights, inclusion and well-being of people with Down Syndrome” in 2012. Before this international declaration, many countries had been celebrating World Down Syndrome Day since 2006, as a way to spread awareness.
March 21st was specifically chosen because 3/21 represents the fact that individuals with Down Syndrome have a third copy of the 21st chromosome.
What is World Down Syndrome Day?
As stated before, it is a day to advocate for the rights, inclusion and well-being of individuals with Down Syndrome. There are a lot of misconceptions about the value of life a person with Down Syndrome as well as what these individuals are capable of. World Down Syndrome Day is one of many efforts to propel forth the message that individuals with Down Syndrome have a voice and a valuable place in society.
Each year, there is a theme for World Down Syndrome Day. For 2020, the theme is “We Decide,” meaning each individual with Down Syndrome should have
“full participation in decision making about matters relating to, or affecting their lives.”
The theme may change, but the main focus of World Down Syndrome Day is to encourage full inclusion in society (classrooms, workplaces, community events, etc) via accessible information, good support for the individual with Down Syndrome, as well as education for others about what inclusion means and how to effectively incorporate inclusive practices into their communities. Another focus is to empower individuals with Down Syndrome and their families to advocate for and access meaningful participation with their communities.
How Can I Participate?
There is no one way to participate in World Down Syndrome Day. Each community and family celebrates a little differently, which is beautiful in its own way; celebrating diversity and differences is at the core of the message of World Down Syndrome Day.
However, some common ways people celebrate are:
- Wear colorful, mismatched socks. Why? Socks look similar to chromosomes and chances are, if you are proudly wearing loud socks, someone will ask why, which can open the door for discussing Down Syndrome, World Down Syndrome Day and what they mean.
- Acts of Kindness to spread joy and awareness.
- Many communities hold events to raise money and awareness to support the efforts of organizations dedicated to promoting the inclusion, rights and well-being of individuals with Down Syndrome.
- Share information in the classroom, workplace or in your community about Down Syndrome. This website has some good resources to use!
- Support businesses owned by individuals with Down Syndrome. Here are a few (there are many more!)”
- John’s Crazy Socks
- Sweet Heat Jams
- DaBombs: Bath Bombs
- Gracie’s Doggie Delights
- Riverbend Galleries
- Ashley Brickhead Art
- Christian Royal Pottery
- Allie Art Designs
- Advocate and educate! Really, just sharing the message via social media or interactions with others is the main goal of World Down Syndrome Day. Educate yourself, ask questions, have discussions, then share with others.
There you have it! An overview of World Down Syndrome Day and an invitation to join the journey of spreading awareness and advocating for the rights of individuals with Down Syndrome, not only on March 21st, but every day.
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