Today, March 21, is World Down Syndrome Day. It's a day meant to encourage an open conversation about what it means to have Down syndrome, and the important roles people with Down syndrome play in their communities around the world.
WDSD falls on an appropriate date — the most common form of Down syndrome is trisomy 21, which results in extra genetic material in the 21st chromosome. In Canada, Down syndrome occurs in one of approximately 800 births.
Today, the goal is to raise awareness about the condition, which is why you might see people wearing bright, colourful socks. Lots of Socks is the official campaign of Down Syndrome International. They're encouraging people around the world to wear brightly striped socks to act as conversation starters, in the interest of sparking a dialogue about misinformation about Down syndrome. The ultimate goal is to end discrimination against people with Down syndrome. This year in particular, DSI is hoping to highlight the following issues:
1. Having Down syndrome does not make a person unhealthy.
2. Down syndrome is a genetic condition, not an illness.
3. People with Down syndrome may have health issues throughout their lives, just like everyone else, and they should have access to healthcare on an equal basis with others.
4. There are specific known health issues which may affect people with Down syndrome, for which accurate, evidence-based information is available.
5. Health professionals should be aware of these specific issues when treating a person with Down syndrome.
6. Health professionals should not discriminate against people with Down syndrome by: refusing to treat them; blaming health issues on Down syndrome in general, or; considering only specific known health issues which may affect people with Down syndrome.
The Canadian Down Syndrome Society is participating in the Lots of Socks campaign, too. They're also promoting the achievements of Canadians with Down syndrome. In honour of WDSD, they've released a video called "See the Ability," a montage of positive Down syndrome stories across Canada. You can watch the whole thing here:
For a complete list of events happening in Canada today, check out the World Down Syndrome Day website here.
You should also check out this great video of 15 people with Down syndrome giving messages to a future mom:
Down syndrome is something we've talked about before on the show. When actor John C. McGinley was in the red chair, he discussed his own experience raising a child with Down syndrome. You can watch his conversation with George below:
And of course there's George's conversation with Evan Sneider, an actor with Down syndrome and the star of the critically acclaimed film Girlfriend: