World Down Syndrome Day: End the Stereotypes

Every March 21, World Down Syndrome Day is commemorated with the aim of raising awareness within society about the enormous value of these people, as well as vindicating their contributions to society, their rights and independence in making their own decisions and their personal growth.


Origin of World Down Syndrome Day


At the end of the 19th century, the English physician John Langdon Down was the first to discover the common characteristics of this genetic condition, naming it with his surname. French geneticist Jérome Lejeune discovered in the 1950s that Down syndrome was caused by an extra chromosome in the 21st pair. That is, the person is born with a trio of chromosomes, which is why Down syndrome is known as Trisomy 21.


The 21st day of the third month of the year symbolizes this trisomy and, therefore, this date was chosen for World Down Syndrome Day. It has been commemorated since March 21, 2012, by Resolution approved by the United Nations General Assembly on December 19, 2011.


Right to equality and inclusion


This condition is not treated as such, i.e., doctors and therapists attend to accompanying conditions such as: muscular hypotonia, cardiac or hearing anomalies; among others. By receiving early and continuous stimulation, people with Down syndrome can develop their greatest potential and thus achieve autonomy and independence through educational and social inclusion.


People with Down syndrome should enjoy the same benefits and privileges as the majority of people in society. Their right to equality, opportunity and full happiness are inalienable.


For the United Nations, World Down Syndrome Day is part of the 2030 Agenda, as part of the sustainable action plan to protect these people against any kind of abuse, abuse or discrimination.


Their value and contribution to society should not be underestimated. With work, care and support, people with Down syndrome can be incorporated into social life, performing multiple activities and achieving autonomy.


End the stereotypes


The theme of World Down Syndrome Day 2024 is “End the Stereotypes”. Most stereotypes are limiting, whether positive, negative or neutral. They are false, preconceived ideas that have nothing to do with reality. Stereotypes are often reinforced by how a topic is treated in the media. And once a cliché is formed, it can be difficult to change.


For people with Down syndrome, stereotypes can create inequalities and cause us to stop treating them like everyone else. For example, because of stereotypes, they are sometimes treated as if they were children, undervalued and excluded. Sometimes they are mistreated or even abused.


Therefore, this year’s theme seeks to call for an end to stereotypes regarding Down syndrome and people with intellectual disabilities.


World Down Syndrome Day is a timely date to celebrate the existence of all children, youth and adults born with this condition. It is also an ideal day to remember the importance of respect, tolerance and acceptance of all members of society.

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