RMG – World Down Syndrome Day: a change in approach is needed

22 March 2017

(ANS - Rome) – Even small gestures can bring changes in the way we consider those who are different from ourselves. Yesterday, 21 March, was   International Down Syndrome Day. In Cartagena in Spain, the students of "San Juan Bosco" primary school, were invited to do drawings to express how they see their companions with this syndrome. The intention was to break stereotypes and discover the positive contributions that people with Down syndrome can make.

In Cartagena, the message of common brotherhood among children was evident in all the drawings. But globally there is a lot of work to be done for people with Down syndrome to be given due recognition. The specific objective of this year's World Day was in fact to emphasize the active role of people with Down syndrome in society: "My Voice, My Community" was the motto chosen.

People with Down syndrome - and the many associations of family members - have asked society to give due recognition and appreciation to people with Down syndrome in their communities. They are capable of speaking, of being heard and of influencing political decisions.

To bring about a cultural change in the approach towards Down syndrome, and disability in general, CoorDown (the national coordination of associations of persons with Down syndrome) has launched a communication campaign #NotSpecialNeeds.

In the film, Lauren Potter, a 27-year-old actress with Down syndrome, challenges the definition of special needs: "We do not need to eat dinosaur eggs, wear armour, be massaged by a cat or wake up as a movie star. Like everyone else, we need education, jobs, opportunities, friends and affection."

In a word, our needs are the specifically human needs of every human being. What may change, according to CoorDown "is the degree of assistance or the way we meet that need, but not the need itself."

For persons with Down syndrome access to employment is still one of the areas where there is much to be done. There was unanimous approval when a girl with Down syndrome called Mélanie Segard was employed as announcer of the weather forecast in France, but initiatives like this are still few and far between.

This is a challenge that cannot be ignored by people like the Salesians who work for the education and training of all young people.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

This site also uses third-party cookies to improve user experience and for statistical purposes. By scrolling through this page or by clicking on any of its elements, you consent to the use of cookies. To learn more or to opt out, click "Further Information".