by Genetic Counseling students Ivy Johnson and Lupe Rodriguez
Many of us have heard of Down syndrome, but if someone asked you about it, would you be able to explain what it is? As World Down Syndrome Day approaches, now is the time to learn more so you can educate your friends, family, and coworkers.
What is Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome is one of the most common chromosomal conditions. About 1 in 800 babies is born with Down syndrome. As a review, our body is made up of lots of cells and inside most of those cells are chromosomes, which are the instruction manual for our body. Typically, we have 23 pairs of chromosomes, but this is not always the case. Individuals who have Down syndrome have three copies of the 21st chromosome instead of the usual two copies, which is why another name for Down syndrome is trisomy 21.
About 5,100 babies with Down syndrome are born in the Unites States each year, and every one of them has different physical and mental abilities, strengths, and unique characteristics that make them who they are. You could meet people with Down syndrome at any point throughout your life, like at school, work, and other social settings.
What is World Down Syndrome Day?
Due to individuals with Down syndrome having three copies of the 21st chromosome, World Down Syndrome Day is observed on 3/21 of every year. World Down Syndrome Day brings an opportunity to spread awareness and celebrate individuals with Down syndrome.
Ways to Get Involved
Rock Your Socks
Every year for World Down Syndrome Day, people celebrate by wearing colorful, mismatched socks. You can rock some fun socks to show that you support acceptance, inclusion, and advocacy for individuals with Down syndrome in our community. If someone asks about your socks, share what you’ve learned about Down syndrome and why this day is so special!
The Down Syndrome Alliance of the Midlands has socks for purchase each year in the weeks leading up to World Down Syndrome Day. Consider getting your team or department organized for next year to support the Down Syndrome Alliance’s mission.
Visit Down Syndrome Alliance of the Midlands for volunteer opportunities. They rely on volunteer support to provide education, activities, and resources to individuals with Down syndrome and their families. Volunteer opportunities include working with children at special events and programs, summer camps, boxing and improv classes, and sessions on social skills and relationships. There are also opportunities to help with fundraising and other behind-the-scenes activities.
Do you know someone, or encounter patients or families, who might benefit from resources for Down syndrome? The Down Syndrome Alliance of the Midlands is a local organization that provides information, education, and support to people with Down syndrome and their families. Share their information – it just takes a quick, free online form to get connected with other families in the community and a wide variety of resources. They also have a bilingual family navigator and resources and events for Spanish-speaking families.
The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) provides information and resources about Down Syndrome. They also lead national advocacy efforts to improve laws and policies that impact the lives of people with Down syndrome.
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation connects people with Down syndrome (and those who care about them) all over the world!