Did you know that March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day? It’s true. In December 2011, the United Nations General Assembly declared that March 21 would be the annual worldwide day for raising public awareness of Down syndrome and the need for advocacy for adequate access to health care, early intervention programs, inclusive education and research programs.
This year’s World Down Syndrome Day theme is “With Us Not For Us.” Down Syndrome International (DSi) chose the theme to stress the worldwide need to adopt a human rights-based approach to disability, moving on from the outdated charity model, where people with disability were treated as objects of charity, deserving of pity and relying on others for support. With Us Not For Us encourages viewing people with Down syndrome as having the right to be treated fairly and having the same opportunities as everyone else, working with others to improve their lives.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities calls for everyone to have the freedom to make their own choices and asks that supporters of those with Down syndrome do things with them instead of for them. DSi’s global network is also calling for all decisionmakers to commit to involving organizations representing people with Down syndrome in all policy involving them.
For more information about how you can get involved and to receive free WDSD resources, including guides for advocacy, schools and organizations (as well as templates and posters to help commemorate this important day), sign up here.
I should point out that World Down Syndrome Day is separate from Down Syndrome Awareness Month, which takes place every October in the U.S.