March 21. Spring is finally here. It’s the vernal equinox; days are now longer than nights. And Saturday, March 21, is World Down Syndrome Day. This special day is to raise awareness and highlight the many positive qualities of people with Down syndrome, as well as to increase public understanding and civil discourse. This year will mark the 10th annual World Down Syndrome Day, the fourth since was recognized by the U.N., in 2011. Across the world, people with Down syndrome, their families, friends, teachers, co-workers, and supporters will be observing this special day. March 21 is symbolic: as the 21st day of the third month, it represents the third copy of the 21st chromosome that characterizes Down syndrome.
The theme of this year’s event, according to Down Syndrome International (DSI), is “My Opportunities, My Choices. Enjoying Full and Equal Rights and the Role of Families.” According to DSI, “On this day, people with Down syndrome and those who live and work with them throughout the world organize and participate in activities and events to raise public awareness and create a single global voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion and well-being of people with Down syndrome.”
The official statement of NDSS is, “We are able to do things that other people can and can’t do—just like anybody around the world.”
In the U.S., the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) provides a wealth of information via its Web site and social media.
- First, here are the facts:
- With facts in hand, it’s time to dispel myths and misconceptions of Down syndrome For example, Down syndrome is not a rare disability. It is not hereditary. It is not more common among older parents. People with Down syndrome do not have short lives. Children and adults with Down syndrome do not have severe cognitive delays (and we must never use the R-word).
- People with Down syndrome can share their Great Story online to inspire and inform others.
- NDSS is seeking 21 people with that extra copy of the 21st chromosome to join Team NDSS21 in a fundraising spectacular.
If you are in New York City, be sure to check out the landmark Empire State Building, which will be illuminated in green, as part of an effort among several Down syndrome advocacy groups promoting “Random Acts of Kindness.”
Adds NDSS Ambassador, actor Chris Burke, “No matter who we are or where we live, give us a chance to do something with our lives so we can look forward to the future.”