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Saturday, March 21, 2020

World Down Syndrome Day

It is World Down Syndrome Day, a date established by the United Nations in 2012 to celebrate people with this genetic disorder, to raise awareness about their challenges and to provide protection of their rights.

One of ECPM’s priorities is defending life and human dignity. We believe that every human life matters, even if it is not seen as perfect. People with special physical or mental abilities are fully part of our societies and we need to make sure they are protected and can participate in their environment.

Did you know that life expectancy for people with Down syndrome is 60-65 years old, a significant increase in the last century? However, they continue to face negative attitudes, low expectations, discrimination and exclusion in education and employment, which basically affects their ability to make decisions about their lives. For instance, many times they are employed in the food service, at grocery stores or in janitorial jobs, although they can be proficient in using the computer.

These problems stem from a lack of understanding of the challenges individuals face at different stages of their lives and a failure to support them with the opportunities and tools they need to thrive. Therefore, ECPM supports the declaration published today by EU For Trisomy 21 and thanks the 100+ Members of European Parliament who have signed it. The declaration is calling on the EU and all member states to make empowering people with special abilities a priority and to meaningfully support projects and initiatives meant to increase the autonomy of people with Down Syndrome. It is also drawing attention to the under-representation of people with disabilities in media, in politics and in popular culture and commits to work towards reducing this invisibility. Bert-Jan Ruissen, MEP, who was one of the signatories, said “Every person is unique. People with Down Syndrome deserve a strong place in our society and families. They inspire us every day to look beyond stigma and abilities. They are like any other of God’s creatures.”

So let’s use today to become more informed and engaged and to stand up in solidarity with our brothers and sisters with Down Syndrome, calling for their empowerment and autonomy.