March 21st, 2018, marks the 13th annual World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD). The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of Down syndrome and to recognize how people with Down syndrome make meaningful contributions to the world throughout their lives.
On this day, all 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, according to the WDSD website.
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by extra material in the 21st chromosome. Approximately 3,000-5,000 children are born with the disorder each year. In the U.S. alone, approximately 250,000 families are affected.
This date was selected for WDSD to reflect the “uniqueness of the triplication of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome,” according to WDSD website.
WDSD was first celebrated by many countries in 2006, and then in 2011, the day was declared an official worldwide observance by the United Nations General Assembly. The U.N. 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.
WDSD is being observed with a variety of activities in different countries. In the United States, for example, 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 will also hold a conference at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. The conference will bring 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.
At NAPA Center, we are celebrating 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.