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World Down Syndrome Day 2024—#End the Stereotypes

12:00am | | Tips and Advice

It doesn’t matter whether you are a senior, whether you have dark skin, whether you practice a certain religion, whether you went to college, whether you are from a different country, or whether you have a disability.

Everyone deserves the right to be treated equally, make decisions for themselves, and have control over their own lives.

This year on World Down Syndrome Day, you can unite with the millions of people all over the world living with Down syndrome who are fighting to drown out harmful stereotypes, crying out to be respected and valued for the unique, multifaceted individuals that they are.

Read on to learn more about World Down Syndrome Day 2024’s theme of “End the Stereotypes” and how you can become a part of putting an end to the stigma and discrimination behind disabilities.

What is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome , also known as Trisomy 21, is a genetic condition in which a person has an extra chromosome.  It occurs naturally, with no known cause.

Chromosomes are strands of DNA that determine how a baby’s body will form and function as it grows.

This extra chromosome that defines Down syndrome will usually cause “varying degrees of intellectual and physical disability and associated medical issues.”

In fact, it is estimated that about 1 in 800 babies will be born with Down syndrome.

What is World Down Syndrome Day?

World Down Syndrome Day is a global awareness day that has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012.

The purpose of its observation is to educate the public and raise awareness of Down syndrome, as well as work diligently to improve the quality of life of those living with Down syndrome.

When is World Down Syndrome Day?

World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is on March 21st every year.

As a matter of fact, the selection of this day and month has a strong significance.

WDSD being observed on the third month of the year (March) on the 21st day represents the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome that causes Down syndrome.

What is the 2024 Theme for World Down Syndrome Day?

The 2024 theme for World Down Syndrome Day is “End the Stereotypes.”

This theme encourages a shift in how society views and treats people with Down Syndrome away from the influence of stigmas and stereotypes associated with intellectual disabilities.

For example, people who have Down Syndrome or other intellectual disabilities are often treated differently than other people, sometimes being infantilized and treated like children, being underestimated, excluded, treated badly, or even abused.

However, the reality is that every individual is unique, and this holds true for any demographic or subset of people—including those with Down syndrome or intellectual disabilities.

Diversity is inherent in our personalities, preferences, and behaviours.

Just like everyone else, people with Down Syndrome possess their own distinct identities, passions, strengths, and weaknesses.

Down syndrome or an intellectual disability is just a fraction of their identities—It’s not who they are.

Stop being a part of the problem and start being a part of the solution, respecting them as who they are—individual people deserving of dignity and equal treatment.

Real-Life Examples of the Harmful Effects That Stereotypes Have on People with Down Syndrome

Stereotypes hurt.

They not only deny us basic human rights and equal treatment, but they reduce our unique characteristics that make us unique down to a one-dimensional misrepresentation of who we really are.

Below are some real-life experiences of people with Down Syndrome that expose the damaging consequences that stigmas and stereotypes cause in our society:

“I used to work at a primary school. I was hoping to help with the school newsletters on the office computer. I presented my CV to the receptionist to show her what I can do. She asked me, “Who did this for you?” I told to her I did it. She did not believe that I made the CV and she did not let me help her.”

Andrew – New Zealand

“I went to a clothes shop on my lunch break at work. I was looking at the different clothes. A lady who worked in the shop told me, “You aren’t going to buy anything, get out!” I was so upset I couldn’t speak. I don’t deserve to be treated like that.”

Emma – United Kingdom

“I don’t like it when people look down at people with Down syndrome. On World Down Syndrome Day we must come together with a common goal to change this.”

Moyosore – Nigeria

“Why do people think that people with Down syndrome can’t work? They also think we shouldn’t get paid! I work hard and I deserve to be paid.”

Muthoni – Kenya

“I wanted to go to college but, because I have an intellectual disability, the only courses available to me were in ‘Life Skills’. I don’t want to go to college to learn to make my bed!”

Tia – United States

“People think that Down syndrome is a sickness. It is not! Down syndrome is a condition. We are like any other person. I want the world to see us for who we really are.”

Carlos – Mexico

“Some people think that people with Down syndrome can’t live ‘normal’ lives. That’s wrong! And what is ‘normal’ anyway?
My life is similar to lots of my family and friends. I went to my local school, I’m involved in a local orchestra and the scouts. I am training to be a teaching assistant.
All of this for me is ‘normal’, just like everyone else.”

Pearl – Switzerland

“I am discriminated against because I have a disability. People don’t let me speak up for myself. But I can! I enjoy speaking to people about my life.”

Andrew – Australia

“People think that all people with Down syndrome are the same. We are not! My favourtie thing is learning about different people and what they do.”

Janet – Canada

How Can You Raise Awareness and Educate Yourself and Others About Down Syndrome?

There are several ways that you can get involved in World Down Syndrome Day, whether it’s learning more about Down syndrome, raising awareness, or participating in events that revolve around Down syndrome.

Here are just a few of the ways that you can get involved:

  • Use these resources to advocate for change
  • Share your stories on social media and tag it with #WorldDownSyndromeDay and #EndTheStereotypes
  • Look into lighting up a landmark for World Down Syndrome Day in blue and yellow
  • Learn more about Down syndrome from people with Down syndrome
  • Look for local events to participate in
  • Join the ‘Lots of Socks’ campaign in support of Down syndrome

To see more ways that you can get involved in World Down Syndrome Day 2024, click here.

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