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.