Around the world on March 21 thousands celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. This date has special significance since Down syndrome results from the existence of three copies of the 21st chromosome. Hence, World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) takes place on the 21st day of the third month — March.
Made official by the United Nations in 2012, this day celebrates those diagnosed with Down syndrome. It also raises awareness and creates a platform for advocating the rights and inclusion of people with this disorder.
Sadly, there are many common misconceptions that have resulted in a negative stigma. However, WDSD breaks down those barriers and helps people to see that those with Down syndrome are just like the rest of us! Though they may look different or speak differently, they lead normal lives, going to work, school and social events like everyone else.
The Facts About Down Syndrome
Down syndrome is one of the the most common chromosomal conditions in the world. In the U.S. alone, it occurs one in every 700 babies, accounting for 6,000 diagnoses per year. Just imagine how many people have Down syndrome the world over!
Out of the three types of this disorder, the most common is Trisomy 21. This type accounts for 95% of the Down syndrome population. What challenges come along with this form, as well as the other two types?
Individuals may suffer from health problems such as heart defects, speech impediments, hearing loss and infections. Especially with recent medical advances, most of these can be treated successfully. The effectiveness of current treatment is proven by the fact that the average lifespan has risen in the past 30 years from 25 years to 60. That’s quite an improvement!
And, in reality, these illnesses and health problems are really nothing exceptional. They are nothing that the rest of the population is not also susceptible to. That means that there’s no reason to view or treat anyone any differently. That’s why it’s so important that we continue to educate on and create more understanding of this syndrome.
The Impact of the Syndrome
Among the many misconceptions about this syndrome, there’s the idea that caring for an affected person is a tiring task or chore. How far from the truth that is!
Just like anyone else, with a safe, supportive environment, a person with Down syndrome can lead a normal and productive life. We’ve seen firsthand that the challenges that they face do not keep them from being intellectual, emotional or social!
World Down Syndrome Day celebrates not only those who have the condition but also all of the wonderful things that they can and do accomplish!
How will this day be celebrated? The National Down Syndrome Society is hosting a virtual event in which participants walk, bike, jog, hike or swim 3.21 miles at any time, pace and place. This can be done alone or with a group of fellow advocates.
Another way that many people celebrate is by wearing lots of socks — long socks, one sock, socks with crazy patterns, three socks on each foot, etcetera. The socks are a conversation piece to open the way for a discussion about Down syndrome.
Still others will wear t-shirts or attend events. As you can see, there are many ways to show your support. No matter how you choose to do so, we hope that you will join us in celebrating this special day!