Family's jeep spreading Down Syndrome awareness
How to Raise Down Syndrome Awareness
People with Down Syndrome, their loved ones, and other allies have worked hard to celebrate the lives of those who have Down Syndrome (DS). Down Syndrome Awareness was created in the honor of people with DS, and sends a message of acceptance and hope. Here is how to increase education about Down Syndrome and make the world a more welcoming place.
Read articles from people with Down Syndrome.Listen to what they experience, what they want, and what they love. What do they say about how you can be helpful?
Celebrate Down Syndrome yearly events.This can be a great conversation starter, and you can educate people.
- March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day.The date was chosen because it is 3/21, and people with DS have 3 pairs of the 21st chromosome.
- October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
Dress up to show your love.The Down Syndrome awareness ribbon is blue and yellow, and you can buy a Down Syndrome shirt or make your own outfit. Colorful socks (three pairs) are used to symbolize the three pairs of chromosomes.
Encourage legislators to pass bills that help people with disabilities.Disabled people need resources, acceptance, inclusion, and self-determination. Find bills that are promoted by the disability community (not just parents—actual disabled people too). Try organizing a letter-writing campaign or educating people on the internet.
- You can work in conjunction with other groups of disabled people, such as Deaf and Autistic self-advocates.
Support health problems that people with DS face.Many people with Down Syndrome have heart issues, stomach problems, eyesight issues, and other health problems. They are more likely to face Alzheimer's and dementia as they age. You can help by advocating for funding for these medical issues, and donating to organizations that help people get the surgeries and treatments they need.
Promote safe, effective education for children and teens with Down Syndrome.Education should be fun and individualized, with as much mainstreaming as is reasonable for the child. Teens will need help transitioning to the workforce, and may need programs in high school or vocational programs.
- Campaign against violent restraint and seclusion practices in special education. This is still legal in some areas.
Encourage acceptance and inclusion.People with DS can be wonderful people and capable workers. Write to local businesses in support of inclusive hiring practices, encourage your peers to befriend any lonely people with Down Syndrome, and talk about how to make the world a more loving and accepting place.
- Encourage local businesses to use inclusive hiring practices.
- Help make sure that classmates or colleagues with Down Syndrome have people to hang out with.
- Fight bullying.
- Use inclusive language—"genetic differences" instead of "genetic defects," "intellectually disabled" instead of the r-word, and other language that helps people with Down Syndrome feel like they aren't broken.
Challenge the idea that a person's worth is measured by intelligence.Yes, smarts matter, but are theyeverything?Why are bad things called stupid, bad ideas called idiotic, and bad people called morons? How might this feel to someone whose IQ will never be close to average, no matter how hard they work?
- Pay attention to how you reference intelligence when you speak. How would this feel to someone with Down Syndrome or another intellectual disability?
Support self-advocates.Some people with Down Syndrome speak up about their needs, and how the community can be helpful. It's important that people listen to these advocates. Try sharing their articles, or reminding disability organizations to listen to the voices that matter most: those of the people they support.
Spend time with people with Down Syndrome.Maybe you have a family member or friend with DS, or perhaps you'd like to go volunteer at a disability group. Find someone with Down Syndrome, hang out together, and find a way to make them smile.
QuestionIs Down Syndrome "bad"?Community AnswerIt's not appropriate to call any developmental/mental condition or disorder "bad." While Down Syndrome can have a negative impact on a person who has it, that doesn't make it "bad."Thanks!
QuestionMy classmates often make a lot of jokes about people with DS. I don't have it or know anyone who does, but I think what they're doing is wrong. How can I get them to stop?Community AnswerThe best thing to do here would be to tell them about what Down Syndrome really is. Your classmates probably aren't trying to be cruel; they just don't understand what Down Syndrome really entails. Tell them more about Down Syndrome, and inform them that what they are saying isn't right.Thanks!
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