World Down Syndrome Day: March 21st

World Down Syndrome Day: March 21st

By: Baani Bhathal

Created on February 27, 2014

March 21st was declared the World Down Syndrome Day in December 2011 in order to raise awareness about the syndrome.(1) Down syndrome occurs when there is an extra chromosome in the carrier’s genetic makeup.(2) It is not a disease or a mental condition, and those with Down syndrome should not be seen as being afflicted by this condition.(3) Down syndrome mainly affects learning styles, but this varies on an individual basis.(4) The Down Syndrome Association of Toronto (DSAT) outlines some basic principles that should be considered when discussing those with Down syndrome.(5) These principles state that those with Down syndrome “have the right to be raised at home with family,” “have the same civil and human rights as all other Canadian citizens,” “have the right to supports and services as needed without prejudice,” and are “are entitled to quality medical care, without prejudice, including newborns.”(6) Raising awareness about those with Down syndrome is especially important since there is still stigma surrounding the condition. Health professionals, business owners and educators should encourage a positive and accurate image of those with Down syndrome. Cristina’s Tortina Shop in Brampton, Ontario is a great example of a local business attempting to end negative stereotypes surrounding those with Down syndrome.(7) Mary, whose young daughter Cristina has Down syndrome, owns the shop.(8) Mary told reporter Avery Haines that soon after Cristina’s birth, the medical community advised her not to “have any expectations” of her daughter.(9) In the interview Mary also addressed the stigma that those outside of the medical field have of Down syndrome, citing an incident when a woman asked Mary why she didn’t abort her child.(10)

The shop employs five people with Down syndrome and autism.(11) Mary hopes that the shop will help end stereotypes surrounding the syndrome. You can access the shop’s website here: