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The Top 5 Ways You Can Support Down Syndrome Awareness Month

2018-10-03 by Carrie Aitkenhead
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October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, a time to celebrate people with Down syndrome and their abilities, as well as a time to educate and inform people about resources and fundraising opportunities for the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition there is. Here are 5 ways that you can support someone with Down syndrome and their families.

Down syndrome Awareness

  1. Learn more about Down syndrome

    What is Down syndrome? According to to the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, “Down syndrome is the most frequently occurring chromosomal disorder and the leading cause of intellectual and developmental delay in the U.S.and the world.” It occurs when someone has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.

    Though there are particular physical characteristics of Down syndrome (such as cognitive delays and an increased risk of certain medical conditions), Down syndrome does not define the people who are born with it. People with Down syndrome have fulfilling lives, attending school and work, developing meaningful relationships, voting, and contributing to society.

  2. Purchase a ribbon, or take part in fundraising walks or events

    Down Syndrome Awareness Ribbon

    Down syndrome awareness is represented with a blue and yellow ribbon. According to the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Down syndrome is the least-funded genetic condition in the United States. Consider participating in a charity walk to support Down syndrome advocacy. The National Buddy Walk Program offers events all across the country throughout the year.

  3. Give developmentally appropriate gifts to friends or family members with Down syndrome

    Melissa & Doug First Bead Maze

    There is a spectrum of abilities in children who have Down syndrome, but it is often characterized by difficulty with cognitive ability, speech & language and fine motor skills. There are plenty of materials out there to help a child develop these skills, including toys:

    Gift ideas to support cognitive development
    Gift ideas to support letter and number skills
    Gift ideas to support shape and color recognition

  4. Join or support an organization that supports Down syndrome

    Adele's Over the Rainbow Baskets

    We have been particularly inspired by Adele’s Over the Rainbow Baskets. Started by Krista Rowland-Collins and modeled after Beau’s Baskets of Hope, this organization makes welcome/congratulation baskets for families who have a baby born with Down syndrome in Calgary, Alberta, in Canada. The baskets include gifts and resources for the family. Krista started the organization because she felt families of children born with Down syndrome deserved a warm welcome for their baby instead of a message they too often get of “I’m sorry, there’s something wrong with your child.”

    Here are four large national organizations focused on Down syndrome:

    Global Down Syndrome Foundation
    Dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education and advocacy.

    National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC)
    Provides information, advocacy and support for all aspects of the lives of individuals with Down syndrome and works to ensure equal rights and opportunities for people with Down syndrome.

    National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS)
    Works to promote the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. Works with Congress and federal agencies to protect the rights of people with Down syndrome, and educates individuals to advocate on local, state and national levels.

    Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action (DSAIA)
    A national trade association made up mostly of local Down Syndrome organizations, DSAIA’s purpose is to serve their affiliates through collaboration, resource sharing, and networking.

  5. Talk to your child about kindness and embracing differences and diversity

    Melissa & Doug Star Diner

    Perhaps the most lasting way you can make an impact this Down Syndrome Awareness Month is by talking to your children about being kind and embracing differences and diversity. This “Just Like You” video from the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City is a helpful jumping off point for a conversation.

    It is when we learn to see beyond labels and diagnoses that we learn to truly value each other for our uniqueness and strengths that we bring to the larger community. Teaching our children these lessons at a young age will prepare them for a life of kindness, empathy, and joy.


Carrie Aitkenhead

Carrie Aitkenhead is a Connecticut State Certified Educator and member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children with fifteen years of experience in multiple areas of education including public school, private school, special education, and outdoor supplementary education. These experiences have shaped a core belief in the necessity of play. Through her work she hopes to promote the value of play and personal connection to support children to develop a sense of imagination, creative empowerment, and self-worth.

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