In less than one week, World Down Syndrome Day will be celebrated! March 21 (3.21) is significant as it represents the third copy of the 21st chromosome - Trisomy 21, most commonly known as Down syndrome. This will be the 13th year since its inception in 2005, when the French Association for Research on Trisomy 21 (AFRT) chose this symbolic date to hold activities that would help raise awareness of people with Down syndrome. Along with the European Down Syndrome Association (EDSA), and Down Syndrome International (DSI), the date was adopted to support awareness and “well-being” events for people with Down syndrome. It took a few years before the United Nations came on board (in 2012) and declared March 21st “World Down Syndrome Day”.
Since that time, awareness events and celebrations surrounding this date have grown significantly. You might not be aware, but there is actually a website dedicated to this event! was created, and is maintained, by the Down Syndrome International group. It shares the history of WDSD, global events, merchandise, and even tips on fundraising. Take a peek to see how other countries celebrate – there are some interesting events! Everything from tea with the Parliament (Australia) to movies (Columbia) to art galleries (Luxembourg) to cooking demonstrations (Macedonia). Here in the States, many Down Syndrome support groups have parties, walks or other events surrounding the date, and encourage their families to share stories, and advocate for their loved ones (or themselves). More events seem to be added each year.
But what to do if you can’t find something to do close by your location? There are still plenty of ways to party! Check social media for businesses that put out t-shirts, hats or other apparel (although time is limited now). Crazy socks are a biggie! Wearing colorful and/or mis-matched socks has somehow come to represent this day – perhaps to recognize how unique our loved ones are who wear their extra chromosome proudly. Random acts of kindness have also developed into a way to celebrate, first begun by the International Down Syndrome Coalition. Some families print up cards to hand out as they do good deeds, letting recipients know about WDSD, and post photos of their activities on social media. Participants can be family members, friends, or the individual with Down syndrome themselves.
The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) is once again hosting their “Racing for 3.21”, a virtual event, which encourages participants & advocates to “move for 3.21 miles on March 21 to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day and raise awareness for the Down syndrome community.” See their website to register. The National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) is featuring different quotes and photos each day, leading up to the 21st.
Another way to raise awareness among friends, families, co-workers or schools is to bring in blue and yellow treats (the colors that represent Ds). Share a fun fact about your family member on a slip of paper tied to a wrapped baked goods. Wear blue and yellow shirts, socks, ties, or bows that day. Let your local newspaper or television station know about the day, and how you plan to celebrate. Share your story! Post three facts about Down syndrome to your followers, friends and fans. (Some common facts: there are three types of Down syndrome, one in every 700 babies in the US is born with Ds, Ds occurs in all nationalities and economic levels.)
Most of all, have fun! The goal of WDSD is to help raise awareness, advocate and celebrate. Any way you can manage to do one, two or all three, helps to bring Down syndrome into the conversation. March 21st is quickly approaching! Get your plan together, get out there and have fun!
We’d love to hear how YOU plan to celebrate. Please let us know!