Faces of people with Down syndrome
Photo:© Down Syndrome International
Faces of people with Down Syndrome. © Down Syndrome International

Down Syndrome

Down syndrome occurs when an individual has an extra partial (or whole) copy of chromosome 21. It is not yet know why this syndrome occurs, but Down syndrome has always been a part of the human condition. It exists in all regions across the globe and commonly results in variable effects on learning styles, physical characteristics and health.

Adequate access to health care, to early intervention programmes, and to inclusive education, as well as appropriate research, are vital to the growth and development of the individual.

In December 2011, the General Assembly declared 21 March as World Down Syndrome Day (A/RES/66/149). The General Assembly decided, with effect from 2012, to observe World Down Syndrome Day on 21 March each year. In order to raise public awareness of Down syndrome, the General Assembly invites all Member States, relevant organizations of the United Nations system and other international organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, to observe World Down Syndrome Day in an appropriate manner.

Background

The estimated incidence of Down syndrome is between 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 1,100 live births worldwide. Each year, approximately 3,000 to 5,000 children are born with this chromosome disorder.

The quality of life of people with Down syndrome can be improved by meeting their health care needs, including regular check-ups with health professionals to monitor mental and physical condition and to provide timely intervention be it physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, counselling or special education. Individuals with Down syndrome can achieve optimal quality of life through parental care and support, medical guidance, and community based support systems such as inclusive education at all levels. This facilitates their participation in mainstream society and the fulfillment of their personal potential.

"We Decide"

For World Down Syndrome Day 2020, Down Syndrome International focuses on the theme "We Decide": all people with Down syndrome should have full participation in decision making about matters relating to, or affecting, their lives. Effective and meaningful participation is a core human rights principle supported by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The overall aim of the events is to:

  • Show how effective and meaningful participation of persons with Down syndrome can be achieved via accessible information and communication, good support and inclusive consultation;
  • Empower persons with Down syndrome, those supporting them and their representative organisations, to advocate for effective and meaningful participation;
  • Reach out to key stakeholders, including education, health and social care professionals, employers, community and public bodies, the wider disability movement, media and the wider community to disseminate this message and bring about change.

Events and Information

Lots of socks

Lots of socks 2020

We want to get the world talking about World Down Syndrome Day! How can you help? By wearing lots of socks! But not just any socks… wear brightly coloured socks, long socks, printed socks, 1 sock, even 3 socks for 3 chromosomes. If you do not normally wear socks, wear them! Wear them at home, nursery, school, college, university, work, play, travel, on holiday, wherever you are on 21 March! Here's how you can get involved.

 

Francisco Javier Lafuente pose for a picture during a family event

Related observances

Geometric illustration with the Secretariat building at UNHQ, New York.

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.