Wear Your Crazy Socks for World Down Syndrome Day
What are you doing March 21st? In 2019, the date falls on a Thursday and although this day may not seem overly important, it most definitely is because the 21st of March is World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD). A globally recognized day that promotes a community who shares the awareness of Down syndrome to the world. A WDSD conference is held on this day at the United Nations HQ in New York, New York in the United States as well as a Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Officially recognized by the United Nations (UN) and put into effect since 2012, WDSD is a day to encourage all people to observe and create public awareness of Down syndrome. Leading human right organizations like Down Syndrome International (DSi) and National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) encourages people all over the world to participate in activities and events like wearing “Lots of Socks” and “Racing 3.21” on WDSD to help promote understanding of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities.
What is Down syndrome?
The occurrence of Down syndrome happens in 1 in every 792 births. The significant factor that defines Down syndrome is an extra chromosome. From a cellular level, humans are made up cells originating at the conception of egg and sperm which each have 46 chromosomes that divide into 23 chromosomes. The prenatal development ensues where each new cell will normally have 23 pairs of chromosomes (half from the egg and half from the sperm) for again a total of 46. Down syndrome occurs when the egg or sperm cell keeps both copies of chromosome 21, which transfers an extra chromosome, then 47, to each the newly developing cells. Down syndrome is also known as Trisomy 21 due to this extra copy. Thus, the 21st day of the 3rd month of the year represents the three copies of chromosome 21.
Down syndrome can affect anyone of any race, nationality, religion or socioeconomic status. All people with Down syndrome have the right to live fulfilling lives, as compared with others, in all aspects of daily life and in society. In fact, the United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development for 2030 is working on creating a global plan of action for people and the planet by pledging that “no one will be left behind”. There are 3 ways the UN hopes to tackle this plan which includes: reducing today’s negative attitudes towards people with Down syndrome, empowering the advocates, and encouraging others to help raise awareness.
The UN believes all people, including those with Down syndrome, deserve the rights to live a life that encourages personal development, relationships, access to healthcare, work and leisure activities inequality to all. This message can be portrayed by supporting those who advocate and work with people who have Down syndrome within the education, health and social care, employers, media and the broader community. Change is possible when communication is made in efforts to deconstruct the ongoing cynical thought processes.
What can we do to help raise awareness?
Checking in on the WDSD website and the other human right organizations are fast and easy ways to discover all the activities and events going on that are local to you that raise public awareness for the inclusion of people with Down syndrome. Other great ways to share your voice is on social media platforms as well. The convenient access to such a large network allows for each year the voice and support to grow louder by using the community hashtags #LeaveNoOneBehind #WorldDownSyndromeDay #WDSD19.
One of the more popular campaigns for 21 March 2019 for WDSD, put on by Down Syndrome International, is the #LotsOfSocks campaign. People all over the world wear their best, craziest, and brightly colored socks. Socks are chosen as the symbol for WDSD because a pair of socks resembles chromosomes. By wearing #LotsOfSocks that are eye-catching, creative and crazy, printed, long or even 3 socks for 3 chromosomes will surely grab the attention of your neighbor, colleague, or even a stranger and that can help bring forward a discussion. The simplest way to share your support is to wear your best and craziest socks on the 21st of March and invite all your friends, family and colleagues to do the same then making sure to take pictures and videos and posting them on social media using the hashtags #LotsOfSocks, #WorldDownSyndromeDay and #WDSD19.
Additionally, there is a virtual race called Racing for 3.21 put on by National Down Syndrome Society on March 21. This is an annual event which allows participants and advocates from all over the world to run, walk, bike, hike, swim and/or move for 3.21 miles at any time, any place and at any pace on March 21, 2019, in recognition of World Down Syndrome Day. This race promotes a healthy way to promote awareness and raise funds for programs and initiatives that go directly to individuals with Down syndrome. Then be sure to share your accomplishments on social media using the hashtags #WDSD #Racingfor321 #TeamNDSS. And if you are feeling extra supportive, run your race in your crazy socks!