Today is World Down Syndrome Day!
March 21, 2018
March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day. Today, people with Down syndrome, and those who live and work with them, organize and participate in activities and events to raise public awareness and to create a unified global voice advocating for the rights, inclusion, and wellbeing of people with Down syndrome.
According to the National Down Syndrome Society, about 6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born in the United States each year. That’s 1 in every 700 U.S. births.
This day was chosen because Down syndrome occurs when there is a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. So, three copies of chromosome 21 translates to 3/21, or March 21.
This extra material alters development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. The physical and mental traits are as varied as the individuals. The qualities they exhibit are as unique as they are.
What is Down syndrome?
As someone who is lucky enough to work with people who have Down syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities, I’ve stopped noticing text book traits. To me, Down syndrome is a headstrong young woman putting a jar lid on so tight, it sits unopened on my shelf like a trophy to this day. It’s the level of her dismay with me when I tried to help her with something she knew she could do all by herself. It’s a passionate young man speaking at the United Nations about a “poorer, colder, less happy” world without people like him.
You can show your support for World Down Syndrome Day by wearing colorful mismatched socks, or sport an extra pair to signify the extra chromosome. You can paint your fingernails blue and yellow and share why you care with the world. Donate, volunteer, say hello; you may find a surprising anecdote, learn something new, or even make a lifelong friend.