Rock Your Socks- WDSD

World Down Syndrome Day

World Down Syndrome Day!  March 21st

By Carey McLaughlin

World Down Syndrome Day is a global awareness day that has been officially observed since 2012 by the United Nations, and even longer in many other communities.  People with Down Syndrome have a third copy of the 21st chromosome, hence the significance of celebrating on 3/21.   World Down Syndrome Day was created to celebrate the accomplishments of people with Down Syndrome and to advocate for their inclusion, rights, and well-being in local and global communities.  This day helps highlight that people with Down Syndrome are valuable members of the world with unique gifts, and things to contribute if given the opportunity.  Frank Stephens in 2017 told the United States Congress, “I am a man with Down Syndrome and my life is worth living.”  This holds true for every person with Down Syndrome and that is why we celebrate on March 21st.

Though there is always work to be done and further strides to make, we are fortunate that locally our loved ones with Down Syndrome are accepted, loved and have many opportunities to be included.  We are beyond lucky to have places like GiGi’s Playhouse to help us with this mission of raising awareness and including those with Down Syndrome.  Unfortunately, in other places, both at home and abroad, people with Down Syndrome are not accepted nor included.  They don’t have access to organizations such as GiGi’s Playhouse, the Arc, et cetera, that tirelessly advocate for them so that they have as many opportunities as possible.  Raising awareness about Down Syndrome helps to change misperceptions and improve the lives of people with Down Syndrome around the world.

One special way that people celebrate World Down Syndrome Day is by wearing mismatched, colorful or crazy socks on March 21st.  The goal is to start conversations about Down Syndrome and the very special ways those with Down Syndrome enhance our lives (#lotsofsocks, #rockthesocks).  Prior to Covid-19, GiGi’s Playhouse Rochester celebrated World Down Syndrome Day by hosting a sock hop.  People young and old had a blast dancing and celebrating while rocking their most unique and colorful socks.  It was a joyful, exciting event and we are all looking forward to the day when we can celebrate this special day in person again.

Despite the strides toward acceptance, it remains clear that we have miles to go before people with Down syndrome are fully accepted and included and able to live the most independent lives possible;  therefore, celebrating on just one day per year isn’t enough.  Wearing crazy socks starts the conversation, but let’s not let it end there.  People with Down Syndrome should be included in their schools and communities every single day.  They need opportunities for employment and independent living every day.   GiGi’s Playhouse calls their global message of acceptance ‘Generation G’ and it challenges people to:

Make a conscious decision to be better every day.

Be Accepting.

Be Generous.

Be Kind.

I challenge you to do the same.   How can you do that?  Well, give an individual with a disability an employment opportunity. Be patient. Volunteer. Share a smile.  Write to your state representative or to Governor Cuomo to oppose the cuts to the NYS 2022 executive budget that targets New Yorkers with disabilities.  Urge friends, family and coworkers to do the same.

So, please join us on March 21st to celebrate all of the wonderful strides we have made toward acceptance and the accomplishments of those with Down Syndrome.  Wear your colorful socks and start the conversation or post something on social media.  But don’t let it end there for the remaining 364 days of the year.  Follow in the footsteps of GiGi’s Playhouse Generation G and make a conscious decision to be better every day–not just on World Down Syndrome Day



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