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March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day

Mar 16th, 2024 | by Cait Parr, PT, DPT

Cait Parr, PT, DPT

March 16th, 2024

March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day

A day to celebrate, advocate and spread global awareness.

World Down Syndrome Day 2024: End the Stereotypes

The purpose of World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is to raise awareness and advocate for the rights, inclusion and well-being of people with Down syndrome. On this day, people with Down syndrome are being asked to speak up and tell others what they have to offer, as well as to advocate for their rights and opportunities in their communities.

The World Down Syndrome Day 2024 Theme is “End the Stereotypes”

What Is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21. Approximately 6,000 children are born with Down syndrome each year. The United Nations website states that “Down syndrome is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that has always been a part of the human condition” and it exists in all regions of the globe.

Why Is World Down Syndrome Day Celebrated on March 21st?

This date was selected for WDSD to reflect the “uniqueness of the triplication of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome,” according to the WDSD website.

How Is World Down Syndrome Day Observed?

Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day March 21st each year.

WDSD is being observed with a variety of activities and events around the world and virtually. For instance, individuals and teams are being encouraged to participate in “Racing for 3.21” by walking, running or biking 3.21 miles to raise awareness and funds to support the National Down Syndrome Society and WDSD.

Down Syndrome International also holds an annual conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. The conference brings together people with Down syndrome, their advocates, leaders of major employers, experts in the field of disability employment, and government and U.N. officials. The purpose of the conference is to make key employment stakeholders aware of the benefits of enabling people with Down syndrome and other disabilities to make meaningful workplace contributions so that they can begin to facilitate positive change.

#LotsofSocks Campaign to Spread Awareness on WDSD

At NAPA Centre, we celebrate WDSD by wearing #LotsOfSocks, a campaign created specifically for this day to help raise awareness and celebrate all abilities worldwide. Our therapists generally sport fun socks, but on March 21st our sock game will be on an elevated level. Join this movement by wearing the most wild and out-there socks you own. Help spread awareness by explaining why you are wearing this statement piece when bystanders comment. In addition, you can post a picture of your socks using the hashtag #LotsOfSocks to reach people on a larger scale.

What We Wish the World Knew About Down Syndrome

In honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Day, we would like to share with you how we at NAPA see our friends with Down syndrome. Up until as recently as the 1980s, it was unfortunately the norm to institutionalize individuals with Down syndrome. Thankfully, times and perspectives are changing. Today, people are now identifying the uniqueness and potential of people with Down syndrome that we have known all along. Popping up globally in ads, some of these special individuals have begun to model for big companies.

It’s apparent we are growing as a society in understanding that different is beautiful. But really, we think that different is the most beautiful.   

Strike a Pose for Down Syndrome Awareness Day

Modeling is absolutely not the only thing our friends with Down syndrome can do! It’s important to recognise, many children go on to live both happy and fulfilling lives. Adults with Down syndrome are now reaching old age on a more regular basis and are commonly living into their 50s, 60s and 70s.

With the right support, they can build rich lives and play an important role in their communities.

Many adults live nearly on their own, have jobs, and relationships. Of course, those with Down syndrome have a range of needs, abilities, and desires, just like any other group of people. While some will learn to drive, others will work on building relationships. Some can live on their own, while others will need more assistance. They are quite capable of working a part-time job and participating in meaningful social activities.  

What Would Adults With Down Syndrome Tell New Parents?

Down Syndrome Awareness Day is March 21st, also known as World Down Syndrome Day.As international discussion over prenatal testing for Down syndrome grew, researchers noted one perspective was noticeably absent from the research literature—the voices of people with Down syndrome themselves! In a 2011 study, 296 people with DS shared about their lives and, for the first time, revealed their advice for expectant couples. Their views and responses were collectively and systematically analysed. The overwhelming majority of people with Down syndrome surveyed indicated they live happy and fulfilling lives. When asked, “if a new mom and dad just had a baby with Down syndrome, what would you like to tell them?”, many people with DS wanted to express that their own lives are good, saying “It’s not so bad having Down syndrome” and “If everyone was as happy as me, that would be great.” One individual with Down syndrome shared, “I am very happy in my life. I have friends who care about and love me.” The general sentiment towards the new parents was that they need not worry:

“Don’t be afraid. Your baby will have a wonderful life.”  

 

Patience was of particular importance to the interview participants with Down syndrome, who stated, “The baby has to work hard. Help the baby reach their goals.” and “Be patient because I found out that it is harder for me to learn.” Many participants also highlighted similarities between people with DS to those without DS, saying “The baby is just like you and me, just a little different.” and “That baby is not different from a regular person just because they have a disability.” We love what these individuals had to say about love: “Love them, and they will love you lots.”

“If you love the baby with all your heart, that is what really matters.”

 

 NAPA Strives to: 

  • Provide education and support to families and caregivers of children with Down syndrome
  • Walk with families and caregivers of children with Down syndrome through the medical issues commonly encountered by the population
  • Empower children with Down syndrome and their families and caregivers with accurate information so that they can take positive action over the course of the lifespan of individuals with Down syndrome
  • Raise awareness and provide an advocacy framework for medical and psychosocial needs commonly encountered by individuals affected by Down syndrome  

Get Connected! 

Instagram is a great way to connect with some of our favorite friends with Down syndrome. Here are some of our favorite accounts to follow:

Still Want to Know More?  

About the Author 

Cait Parr is a paediatric physiotherapist at NAPA Centre. Her favorite animal is snails, because they remind her to slow down and enjoy the beautiful details about life. e

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