Four Ways to Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day (Even if you don’t know anyone with Down syndrome)

Today is World Down Syndrome Day!

A day that takes place on 3/21 every year, representing the 3 copies of chromosome 21, which is unique to people with Down syndrome. Before Kate was born, I would have barely noticed this day — but today, I celebrate it with a joyful heart.

Whether or not you know someone with Down syndrome, there are many ways to celebrate with the Down syndrome community. After all, when it comes to love, acceptance and awareness of our differences, we’re all in this together.

Here are some ways to celebrate:

1. Share your favorite blogs, videos and stories of families with Down syndrome or other special needs on Facebook, Twitter, by email, or wherever you share.

Here are a few of my favorites: Dear Future Mom (a BEAUTIFUL video created by an Italian ad agency that went viral last week — get your tissues ready), Enjoying the Small Things (a blog that I discovered the day Kate was born that truly gave me comfort in those first few weeks), Down Syndrome: A Year of Grief and Joy (an honest and heartfelt article published by ABC News this month, written by my friend and new mama to a baby with DS, Genevieve Shaw Brown).

Why is this important? For many parents who receive a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis, they feel scared and alone — as they have never even met a person with Down syndrome, let alone understand what the diagnosis means. The more we share the reality of Down syndrome, the less we are scared of it.

2. Take time to mindfully teach your children about compassion –– and there are so many ways to do that. Expose your children to people who are different than them, talk to them about our differences while emphasizing what we have in common — and set an example by embracing those that others may be weary of. Also, compassion and kindness are examples set not just in how we treat people with “special needs” — but in how we treat everyone: the Target cashier who is going slow, the person who cuts us off in traffic, the coach who doesn’t play our child enough.

3. Celebrate your own special talents. Kate may have Down syndrome — and while many choose to look at this as a disability, I see it as an incredible strength. Some things are challenging for her — while other things come much more easily for her. The same goes for my other two children. We all have different abilities — and today is a day to celebrate those.

4. Get involved in your local Down syndrome community. In a rut? Looking for a way to volunteer and change your life? Find the local Down syndrome society in your area. Volunteer. Help. Make friends. And realize first-hand how we’re all so much more alike than we realize.

“I can’t believe that God put us on this earth to be ordinary.” – Lou Holtz
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