March 21. That’s Three twenty-one. These numbers are symbolic of the medical name for Down syndrome: trisomy 21. In humans, each cell normally has 23 pairs of chromosomes, which contain the person’s genetic makeup. In people with Down syndrome, the 21st chromosome has three rather than the usual two copies. The condition of there being three copies is known as trisomy; Down syndrome is the most common trisomy condition (please see our earlier blog post on Trisomy Awareness Month). Such seemingly tiny genetic variations can have a tremendous impact on a person. A prime example is the 23rd chromosome: females have two copies of the X chromosome and males have one X and one Y.
The theme for World Down Syndrome Day this year is #MyVoiceMyCommunity, “enabling people with Down syndrome to speak up, be heard, and influence government policy and action, to be fully included in the community.” In addition, Down Syndrome International will hold a conference on March 21 at the United Nations World Headquarters, New York. The conference and campaign will address four questions:
- Why it is important for people with Down syndrome and their advocates to speak up and influence policy makers at all levels?
- What key policies affect the lives of people with Down syndrome? How can these policies ensure full inclusion in society?
- How can advocates become involved?
- How can we empower people with Down syndrome, along with those supporting them, to advocate for themselves?
These are important questions we should ask of ourselves in serving our consumers with Down syndrome.
For those interested in following the World Down Syndrome Day Conference at the U.N., the event is being streamed. Information on the speakers, along with important background knowledge, is available on March 21.
Some portraits in Down syndrome
Walter, now 63, survived the Nazi genocide against persons with disabilities. Instead, he has found dignity in his independence in the community.
ZEIT Magazine, Nr. 37, 6. September 1996
The Huffington Post recently featured a photographer who compiled a photo essay depicting the beauty of children with Down syndrome.
Former Prime Minister took the time to enjoy a precious moment with his daughter, Anne, who had Down syndrome.