Jul 20, 2020 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 other individuals like them.
As part of our goal to be a global voice for advocating for Down syndrome awareness, this blog presents the history of World Down Syndrome Day, an overview of what World Down Syndrome Day is, and how you can participate.
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In 2012, World Down Syndrome Day officially became an internationally recognized day by the United Nations General Assembly. Its mission is to participate in activities that raise awareness for the “rights, inclusion, and well-being of people with Down syndrome.” Before this international declaration, many countries had been unofficially 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 I said before, it’s 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. This year’s event, World Down Syndrome Awareness Day 2020, is just one of many efforts to spread the word 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 was “We Decide,” meaning each individual with Down syndrome should have:
“Full participation in decision making about matters relating to, or affecting their lives.”
In 2021 the theme is #CONNECT. Watch virtual World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) side event at United Nations Geneva!
The theme may change, but the main focus of World Down Syndrome Day stays the same. Its message is to encourage full inclusion in society, in classrooms, workplaces, community events, etc. This goal is achieved by making information accessible, with good support for individuals with Down syndrome, as well as education for others about what inclusion means.
Another major part of this is showing how to effectively incorporate inclusive practices into their communities. An important 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 celebrate activities and events a little differently. This 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 socks, wear brightly coloured, mismatched socks. Why? Socks look similar to chromosomes. Chances are, if you proudly wear loud socks, someone will ask why. This action 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.
So, this is an overview of World Down Syndrome Day. Please note that you are invited to join the effort to raise public awareness and advocate for the rights of individuals with Down syndrome, not only on March 21st but every day.
Reach out when you have questions on how to use Speech Blubs to improve speech at home!