Thursday, March 21, 2013

World Down Syndrome Day 2013

World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is a global awareness day observed on 21 March each year. This date (21/3) represents the 3 copies of chromosome 21, which is unique to people with Down syndrome (DS), and people and organisations worldwide observe this day in a variety of different ways.

DS is a life-long genetic condition from conception caused by the presence of an extra chromosome in a baby's cells affecting approximately 1 in 800 live births, although there is considerable variation worldwide. DS usually causes varying degrees of intellectual and physical disability and associated medical issues. With around 7 million people with Down syndrome living worldwide, it is the most common and recognised form of learning disability. But most people with DS face a harsh reality of low life expectancy, physical and psychological abuse, stigma and segregation, and limited life opportunities as children and adults. People with DS living in poverty face these challenges but it is also true across the spectrum of wealth due to educational, political, medical and social barriers.

On 19 December 2011, the United Nations General Assembly declared 21 March as World Down Syndrome Day. The General Assembly decided, with effect from 2012, to observe WDSD on 21 March each year, and invites all Member States, relevant organizations of the United Nations system and other international organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, to observe WDSD in an appropriate manner, in order to raise public awareness of DS.

Down Syndrome International (DSi) is a UK based international charity, comprising a membership of individuals and organisations from all over the world, committed to ensuring quality of life and human rights for all people with DS. DSi invites everyone across the world to wear LOTS OF SOCKS on 21 March 2013 to raise awareness on WDSD. Their website says, “We want to get people talking about WDSD on 21 March, and we can do this if we all wear socks…But not just any socks...brightly coloured socks, mismatched socks, long socks, printed socks, 1 sock…maybe even 3 socks (or EXTRA socks) for 3 chromosomes. Or if you don’t normally wear socks then wear them. Just so long as they are socks which are on display and people will ask you about.”

DSi will also organise World Down Syndrome Day Conference on 21 March 2013 at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, USA. This year's World Down Syndrome Day Conference is entitled: "Right To Work". Article 27 of the UN CRPD recognises the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others; this includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities.

There will be presentations from people with Down syndrome, disability organisations, employers, service providers and others from around the world including North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. One can watch the live UN webcast at

What to say, what not to say?

Useful resources:

WDSD official site 

Down Syndrome International (DSi) 

Indelible :A feature length documentary telling the inspiring stories of 7 people with Down syndrome in India, which is the official film of Down Syndrome Federation of India. This short version of the film was created specifically for the closing ceremony of WDSC 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa. Youtube link of the video is available at

WDSD Events in India on 21 March 2013

Down Syndrome Federation ofIndia

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