As South Africans enjoy the day off from work, celebrating Human Rights Day, today marks yet another special day.
March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day. A day where people with Down Syndrome and those who live and work with them organise and participate in activities and events to raise public awareness about Down Syndrome. It also creates a single global voice for advocating the rights, inclusion and well-being of those with Down Syndrome.
AFRT, the French Association for Research on Trisomy 21, was created in 1990 for supporting research and informing on medical and scientific advances in the field of Down syndrome (trisomy 21).
Then in 2005, AFRT decided to select March 21 as a symbolic date for the Day of Trisomy 21. It officially became a recognised day in 2012
Looking at taking a global stance in creating awareness about Down Syndrome, on 21 March 2012, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon said “On this day, let us reaffirm that persons with Down syndrome are entitled to the full and effective enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Let us each do our part to enable children and persons with Down syndrome to participate fully in the development and life of their societies on an equal basis with others. Let us build an inclusive society for all.”
As this day ties in nicely with the South African public holiday of Human Rights Day, let us ensure that others are able to enjoy the rights we often take for granted.
To learn more about Down Syndrome, here are four facts you might not know:
- There is an extra number 21 chromosome (Trisomy 21) which causes delays in physical and intellectual development.
- Due to the evolution of medical care, the majority of those born with Down Syndrom today have a life expectancy of approximately 55 years.
- The likelihood of giving birth to a child with Down Syndrome increases with a woman’s age. However, 80% of babies with Down syndrome are born to women under 35 years of age.
- Their average IQ is 50, as opposed to a 100 in children who were not born with Down Syndrome. But this does not mean they are all mentally impaired. Some children manage to cope in mainstream schools.
With today marking World Down Syndrome Day, wear different coloured socks to show your support.
The initiative to wear mismatched socks is part of the ”Lots of Socks” campaign begun by an organisation called Down Syndrome International. This is to encourage people to start a conversation about diversity, uniqueness, inclusion and acceptance, as mentioned by downsyndrome.org.au.
Be sure to show your support.