To mark World Down Syndrome Awareness Day on March 21 people with the condition have been urged to share their stories.
Organised by the group behind World Down's Syndrome Day, the ‘What I bring to my community’ campaign aims to highlight the good work carried out by people with the condition - whilst highlighting just how vital a role they can play in enhancing the lives of others.
Down's Syndrome is a genetic condition that can often be spotted prior to birth. It causes a degree of learning difficulties and physical characteristics, with its cause being attributed to a one-off genetic change that adds an additional chromosome.
The likelihood of having a child with the condition increases as the mother ages, with NHS statistics showing it to be at 1 in 1500 for 20 year olds, rising to 1 in 100 for 40 year olds.
Children born with the condition find themselves at a greater risk of heart conditions, sight and hearing problems and thyroid issues.
Despite these challenges however Down's Syndrome International aim to change the image associated with the condition - with four key areas set to be targeted. They want to:
- Explain how people with Down's syndrome can and do make meaningful contributions throughout their lives, whether in schools, workplaces, living in the community, public and political life, culture, media, recreation, leisure and sport.
- Explain how negative attitudes and a lack of knowledge about their potential as individuals prevent people with Down's syndrome from having opportunities to make contributions.
- Empower people with Down's syndrome (and those supporting them) to advocate for their rights and opportunities to make meaningful contributions.
- Reach out to key stakeholders including educators, employers, public authorities, media and the wider community to ensure they see the benefits of enabling people with Down syndrome to make meaningful contributions and encourage these stakeholders to bring about change and disseminate this message.
National Executive Officer at the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association, Zandra Vaccarino, commented: “Health and Allied Health professionals have a crucial role to play in correcting myths and changing society’s perceptions and narratives about Down syndrome, while also providing valuable and appropriate health care and support.”
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