21 March is marked as the World Down Syndrome Day and has been officially recognised by the United Nations since 2012. On this day, people with down syndrome and those who live and work with them throughout the world organise and participate in activities and events to raise public awareness and create a single global voice to promote the rights, inclusion and well-being of people with down syndrome.
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. It’s typically associated with physical growth delays, mild to moderate intellectual disability, and characteristic facial features. According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 8 million people with down syndrome across the globe.
The reality today is that the widespread of negative attitudes, low expectations, discrimination and exclusion, ensure that people with down syndrome are left behind. There is a lack of understanding of the challenges individuals face across their lifetimes and a failure to support them with the opportunities and tools needed to live fulfilling lives.
Across areas of life such as personal development, personal relationships, education, healthcare, work and livelihood, recreation and leisure and participation in public life, ALL people with down syndrome must have opportunities, included on a full and equal basis with others.
People with down syndrome and those who support and work with them must be empowered to advocate for these opportunities. We can reach out to education, health and social care professionals, employers, community and public bodies, media and the wider community to ensure they understand how to provide these opportunities and encourage them to spread this message.
It is our role as society to leave no one behind. All people with down syndrome must have opportunities to live fulfilling lives, included on a full and equal basis with others, in all aspects of society.