BY JASMINE KAPOOR
March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), a day for awareness and inclusivity of Down syndrome and people with Down syndrome. WDSD was first observed by many countries in 2006, and in 2011 the United Nations General Assembly declared that from 2012 onward, countries, organizations, and communities associated with the United Nations would observe this important day to raise awareness of Down syndrome.
You might be wondering, what is Down syndrome? Down syndrome is when an individual is born with a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21 in the nuclei of the cells which make up their body. Typically, these nuclei consist of 23 pairs of chromosomes. As a result of the extra genetic material, the individual develops with characteristics of Down syndrome. Some physical characteristic of Down syndrome include low muscle tone, an upward slant to the eyes, and a deep crease along the centre of the palm. These are only a few common traits, and it is important to keep in mind that each individual with Down syndrome is unique, and may possess these traits in different degrees if they possess them at all.
As for the significance of the date March 21st as the recognized day for WDSD, it falls on the 21st day of the 3rd month, to represent the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome that causes Down syndrome.
WDSD is a great opportunity to raise awareness of Down syndrome, from what it is, to what it means to have Down syndrome, and much more. It is also important that we recognize how vital people with Down syndrome are in our communities and lives.
Be sure to join the voices promoting the rights and well being of all people with Down syndrome today! While today is an excellent opportunity to recognize and educate ourselves on Down syndrome, don’t forget that this can be something we do every day! Tell your friends and family about WDSD, generate conversations to further support the community, and get involved in the advocacy of the community in as many ways as possible!
Some resources about Down syndrome are: