World Down Syndrome Day 2017 advocates #MyVoiceMyCommunity

March 21, 2017
Today is World Down Syndrome Day, a global awareness day officially observed by the United Nations since 2012, which encourages raising awareness of Down syndrome. Many PROaupair host families have children with Down syndrome, which is a chromosomal condition in which someone is born with an extra 21st chromosome. One in 700 babies born in the U.S. will have Down syndrome – making it the most common chromosomal condition.

According to the World Down Syndrome Day website, March 21st (the 21st day of the 3rd month) was chosen “to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome."

This year’s call to action for World Down Syndrome Day, highlighted by the hashtag #MyVoiceMyCommunity, is focused on “enabling people with Down syndrome to speak up, be heard and influence government policy and action, and to be fully included in the community.” Specific areas of focus include (1) encouraging people with Down syndrome and their advocates to influence local, national, regional and international policy makers; (2) promoting key policies that affect the lives of people with Down Syndrome; (3) sharing how advocates can get more involved in various aspects of advocacy; and (4) empowering people with Down syndrome to advocate for themselves.

In the weeks leading up to World Down Syndrome Day, various organizations affiliated with Down syndrome have conducted campaigns to raise awareness. For example, for the last 21 days, the European Down Syndrome Association (EDSA) has been sharing individual stories from different European countries regarding "My Voice Counts." Participating countries included Ireland, Ukraine, Spain, Germany, Poland, Turkey, Hungary, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and many more! Below is a short story from Ireland:

“My name is Fionn Crombie Angus, I am from Ireland. I live in the west of Ireland, dividing my time between Mountshannon, a small village where I grew up, and Galway, a small city nearby, where I have my own apartment. I enjoy playing Irish traditional music, learning about world wildlife, bird watching, film making, visual arts, and basketball. I am passionate about people with disabilities having a great life. I also care about the planet and work with a group dealing with climate change. I am the Public Relations Officer for the National Advisory Council in Down Syndrome Ireland (NAC). The NAC is an elected Council representing the voice of people with Down syndrome in Down Syndrome Ireland. We meet every month in Dublic. I travel independently from Galway to Dublin. I enjoy discussing things with the other council members, being involved in lots of projects and learning new things. My voice counts!”

In addition, in an effort to help highlight the need for inclusion in society, various groups and organizations affiliated with Down syndrome from around the world sent in video clips that were edited together and released as part of a Global Video event. Visit the World Down Syndrome Day YouTube page to see all the videos clips from the submitting countries as well as the compilation video.

Events that help demonstrate how people with Down syndrome play an important role in our communities and lives are  encouraged and are scheduled all over the world. In the United States, various events are planned around the country, from a ballooning event to a virtual run to a fashion show to an art gallery exhibit. Visit the website for US events for more information: https://worlddownsyndromeday.org/united-states

If you are a PROaupair host family or an au pair working with a child with Down syndrome, you can get involved via social media. Post a picture of yourself and your child with the hashtags #wdsd17 or #MyVoiceMyCommunity. Or visit the World Down Syndrome Day website for additional information: https://worlddownsyndromeday.org/