March 21: With the agenda of ‘Leave no one behind’, the world is celebrating all people with Down syndrome today to have opportunities to live fulfilling lives, included on a full and equal basis with others, in all aspects of society.
Every year, World Down Syndrome Day is marked on March 21 across the world to raise public awareness. Also known as WDSD, the global health event has been backed by the United Nations since 2012.
What is Down Syndrome:
Down syndrome is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that has always been a part of the human condition, exists in all regions across the globe and commonly results in variable effects on learning styles, physical characteristics or health.
Normally a person has 46 chromosomes but a person suffering from this condition has 47 chromosomes and having an extra chromosome disrupts the way body and mind function.
Kids suffering from this genetic disease are at a greater risk of childhood leukemia, heart defects and immune and endocrine system dysfunction.
Situation in India:
India has the highest number of people suffering from Down Syndrome in the world.
The numbers are alarming but what is more frightening is the fact that this condition is fatal in India due to negligence, lack of awareness, and obsolete medical and technological facilities.
This congenital condition often comes with congenital heart diseases which can be treated. But, out of the 23,000 to 29,000 kids born with Down Syndrome in India every year, the survival rate is only 44% for those who have congenital heart disease.
There are a handful of organizations that are dedicated to help and support individuals suffering from this congenital condition.
1. Down Syndrome Federation of India, co-founded by Dr. Rekha Ramachandran offer day care services to individuals with special needs operating not only in India, but also in the Middle East.
2. Down Syndrome Care Association, registered by the Govt. of Maharashtra, started in the year 2006 caters to people suffering from this medical condition.
‘Lots of Socks’ campaign:
“Lots of Socks” is a simple, yet powerful campaign that encourages people to wear mismatched socks on WDSD to represent a celebration of differences. The initiative is intended to spark conversations about diversity, uniqueness, inclusion and acceptance of all beings. Participating in the campaign, people from all over the world are joining the celebration by rocking their mismatched socks.
Meet these remarkable people who have fought their way through Down Syndrome and proved inspirational:
· Actress Jamie Brewer is the first woman with Down Syndrome to model at New York Fashion Week.
· Gautemalan fashion designer Isabelle Springmiihl, who designs her creations specially for others who have Down Syndrome was voted among BBC 100 women in 2016.
· Pablo Pineda is the first European person with Down Syndrome to get a degree.
· When Angela Bachiller was sworn in as city councillor, for Valladolid, Spain, her strength and determination were on display.
· Special Olympian and motivational speaker Tim Harris also used to run a restaurant on his own.
· Public speaker Karen Gaffney has a doctorate and her own foundation and has spent her entire life pushing herself to show everyone that ‘All lives matter’.