World Down Syndrome Day
annually on March 21st (since 2006)
World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) endeavors "to create a single global voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion, and well-being of people with Down syndrome." It raises awareness about what Down syndrome is, what it means to have it, and how people with it play a vital role in our lives and communities. Observers of the day participate in events and activities to pursue these goals.
A day where people with Down syndrome could be celebrated and advocated for was first publicly called for by Dr. Balbi Singh. Soon afterward, World Down Syndrome Day was formally proposed by Professor Stylianos Antonarakis. It was subsequently created by Down Syndrome International and first observed in 2006. Following efforts by Down Syndrome International to expand international support for the day, the United Nations General Assembly adopted A/RES/66/149 in 2011, and the United Nations began observing the day the following year, inviting the day's observance to raise public awareness of Down syndrome.
The day is marked with WDSD Conferences at the UN Headquarters in New York and at the UN Office at Geneva, and other official events are held around the world. The Down Syndrome International organizes a "Call to Action" which has a different theme each year, and they also hold a "Lots of Socks" campaign. Observers of the day often organize fundraisers, such as car washes, bake sales, and runs, to raise money for Down Syndrome International and other local, regional, or national Down syndrome charities. WDSD awards are given to individuals, groups, and organizations that have improved the quality of life for people with Down syndrome as a result of their voluntary, professional, or scientific activities. These awards are presented every two years at the World Down Syndrome Congress.
A person with Down syndrome has an extra partial or whole third copy of chromosome 21. World Down Syndrome Day takes place on the 21st day of the 3rd month "to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome." Down syndrome exists in all parts of the world and between 1 in 1,000 and 1 in 1,100 children are born with it. It has varying effects on learning styles, physical characteristics, and health. For the continued growth and development of the individuals who have it, it is crucial that they have access to health care, early intervention programs, and inclusive education, and that research continues to be done. World Down Syndrome Day helps raise awareness to make sure these are a reality.
How to Observe World Down Syndrome Day
The following are some ways that World Day Syndrome Day can be observed:
- Attend an official event. Check online to see what is happening near you.
- Fundraise to support individuals with Down syndrome. There are many ideas online on how to do so.
- Participate in the "Call to Action" or the "Lots of Socks" campaigns.
- Attend the World Down Syndrome Day Conference in New York City or Geneva. If you can't attend, you could follow what is going on with them on the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for the conferences.
- Make plans to attend the next World Down Syndrome Congress.
- Follow the official Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages for the day.
- Watch videos related to the day on the Down Syndrome International YouTube channel.
- Pick something up from the World Down Syndrome Day Shop. New socks are designed every year for the "Lots of Socks" campaign.