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I Believe Down Syndrome Day Is for Everyone

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March 21st  (3/21)   is World Down Syndrome Day.

A day set aside by countries and communities around the world to celebrate people with Down Syndrome. A global movement toward awareness, acceptance and change.

Before having a child with Down syndrome, I was unaware that 3/21 was a “world holiday.” And it had never crossed my mind that something like an extra chromosome was cause for celebration.

The truth is, most days I don’t really think about Down syndrome. Yes, Down syndrome is a huge part of my family’s life and I am my son’s biggest advocate. But I don’t look at my son, Davis, and see Down syndrome. I look at Davis and see Davis. He is his own unique individual, just as his brother is, as I am, and as you are.

Davis is a fun-loving, 6-year old boy who loves music, animals and the outdoors. He is in a general education Kindergarten class in which he enjoys his friends and excels at reading. He is a Daddy’s boy and fights daily with his brother yet loves him more than anyone. He prefers his mommy to be the one to kiss his boo-boos and console him when he’s sad. He loves macaroni and cheese, ice cream and hummus. His favorite thing in the whole world is birthdays; not just his own but anyone’s. He gives the best melty hugs and sweetest, wet kisses.

Davis is more alike than different. It is easy for me to look around and see distinctive differences in each person. Is there really such a thing as normalcy? I don’t consider my life to be normal… do you consider your life to be normal? I imagine you probably don’t. Aren’t we each unique, with our own sets of strengths and challenges, likes and dislikes, bodies and minds, thoughts and feelings? Yet we are all human. We are more alike than different.

This day isn’t just about Down syndrome and that extra chromosome. It’s about all of us. A day to embrace each other’s uniqueness and spread kindness. A day to support a culture of inclusion of everyone. As you go about your day, I hope you are inspired by this cute, innocent, loving, beautiful little human to do something to celebrate… a random act of kindness, a phone call just because, a kind word to a stranger — anything that supports humanity and acceptance of one another.

My hope is for a future in which people with Down syndrome and other individuals with disabilities will not be looked upon as inferior; a future in which they are not segregated in their schools, careers and communities… a future of growing opportunities. I’ve already seen change firsthand in the last six years. And maybe one day, it will be common knowledge that 3/21 is a world celebration of people with Down syndrome.

“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” — Nathaniel Branden

Originally published: March 21, 2018
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