The Mighty Logo

Entrepreneur and Self-Advocate With Down Syndrome Speaks at United Nations

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

John Cronin, an entrepreneur with Down syndrome, took to the world stage on March 21 as he spoke at the United Nations for World Down Syndrome Day. John brought his message of inclusion and showing what people with differing abilities can do as he and his partner and father, Mark X. Cronin, served as speakers and moderators during the event, sponsored by the United Nations and Down Syndrome International. John is the founder of John’s Crazy Socks, the world’s largest sock store.

“I loved speaking at the United Nations,” said John Cronin. “I spoke to people from around the world and met many amazing self-advocates.”

John arriving at the United Nations

This was the second time that John has spoken at the United Nations. He previously spoke at a conference on entrepreneurism and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

2023 World Down Syndrome Day Conference at the United Nations

The theme for the 2023 World Down Syndrome Day Conference was “With Us, Not For Us” and featured speakers and guests from around the world. Ambassador Krzysztof Szczerski, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Poland to the United Nations and Magosaki Kaoru, Minister for Social Affairs with the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations welcomed the attendees. Doctor Liam Fox, a Member of the UK Parliament, set the tone by outlining the many policy advances made in the United Kingdom to protect the rights of people with differing abilities. And Kandi Pickard, the CEO and President of the National Down Syndrome Society, spoke of the many advances in U.S. public policy as well as the issues we still need to address.

The Conference consisted of three sessions:

1. Understanding the Right to Legal Capacity

2. Good Practices in Supported Decision Making

3. Easy to Understand Communications

John and his father moderated the second session on Supported Decision Making and spoke in the third session on Good Communications. John introduced the second session by explaining, “Supported Decision Making is when people with Down syndrome are helped in making decisions about their lives. But I make my own decisions. It is my life.”

john and mark with panel participants from decision making

In speaking about good communications, John said, “We shared our experiences from John’s Crazy Socks, where more than half our colleagues have a differing ability. We showed how ensuring that we can communicate with our colleagues with differing abilities benefits our whole business. This is in keeping with the larger lesson that hiring people with differing abilities is not altruism, it is good business.”

Connecting with Self-Advocates and Leaders from Around the World

“One of the best parts of the conference was getting to meet so many people from around the world,” said John.

The speakers at the session moderated by the Cronins included Sam Potterton, a self-advocate from Bristol, England, Yunfang Zong, Chairperson of the Shanghai Hope Star Charity and Saif Ahmed, from the Emirates Down Syndrome Association.

John said, “These are amazing people doing amazing work.”

Wearing ‘Crazy’ Socks to Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day

To celebrate World Down Syndrome Day, people around the world wear fun and “crazy” socks. “I loved seeing people wearing our socks to celebrate this day,” said John. “All day long, people showed me their socks. It was so great.” Thousands of people online tagged John and John’s Crazy Socks to show off their socks.

John Cronin designed and created the world’s first Down
Syndrome Awareness Socks
in 2017.  Since that time, John has designed many new Down syndrome-themed socks and products, including throw blankets so that John’s Crazy Socks now has a full line of Down Syndrome Awareness products.
John’s favorite socks are the Down Syndrome Super Hero Socks. Come holiday time, John’s Crazy Socks creates a holiday Down Syndrome Super Box that has products made by companies led by or employing people with Down syndrome.

Originally published: March 29, 2023
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home