World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), 21st March, is an annual global awareness day, officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. On the 21st March 2021, people all over the world will choose their own activities and events to help celebrate and raise awareness of Down syndrome. World Down Syndrome Day provides an opportunity to show how people with the condition play a vital role in the every day lives of their communities.
Individuals with Down syndrome all have an extra copy, or part of an extra copy, of chromosome 21 in their genetic blueprint (which is why Down syndrome is also known as Trisomy 21). They have 3 copies of chromosome 21 as opposed to 2 in the mainstream population. Hence the reason why 21st March (21/3) was deemed a perfect fit to raise awareness each year.
This year’s date, 21.03.21, is especially important to the Down syndrome community and everyone is gearing up for a fabulous year of awareness. This is no exception for Mark Jones, a 48 year old father of two, from Gloucestershire. In 2002, Mark’s son arrived into the world, complete with an extra chromosome. He lives with Down syndrome.
Dan, who is now 18 years old, is the life and soul of our family, says Mark.
Dan is the reason Mark and his family continue to raise awareness year in year out about Down syndrome and the Down syndrome community.
This year Mark has had to down tools on previously successful WDSD events which supported the community with the help of the fantastic Badgetastic team. Mark usually designs a different image for button badges each year to raise awareness and funds to go towards a preferred cause by the buyer. The challenges created by the global coronavirus pandemic in the past year have made this almost impossible, and means that most of the official events planned to mark the day have had to be cancelled.
Nevertheless, we celebrate with you at a distance, but, we celebrate! said Mark.
Taking the initiative, dad Mark, organised a private online Facebook group, which is growing daily, called WDSD21 Window Displays. The group is designed for others to participate in celebrating and raising awareness of Down syndrome on the run up to and on WDSD 2021. Everyone, from anywhere, is invited to participate, and is very welcome.
A window ‘poster’ has been designed by Mark, enabling the whole family to take part. To participate all you need to do is join the group, print out the line art celebrating WDSD21 and colour it in. Then you can place the works of art in your window for all to see, upload to the group and share them on social media. And if you upload your design to the group you might find your family’s work of art featuring on the group’s cover image.
The Jones family are hoping the activity will spark conversations about Down syndrome within the family home, and, once displayed in windows, within local neighbourhoods. For those in towns and countries not in lockdown, they can even be displayed in workplaces, and schools. And there are mini competitions running to enjoy within group if you have a competitive streak.
During a global pandemic, organising events and activities to raise awareness and funds to support the needs of individuals with Down syndrome are proving more difficult due to the current covid-19 restrictions. Many of the Down syndrome events have shifted to digital platforms. Some people feel isolated and the ability to communicate becomes more difficult, said Mark.
The Jones family have always tried to spread awareness of Down syndrome, but said,
there is a lot more to be done, i’m hoping the group will lend positivity to a lot of families, while raising awareness of WDSD and the community as a whole.
Mark goes on to say that he,
hopes it offers a little more to do for those self-isolating. This is your opportunity to tell everyone about World Down Syndrome Day. Let’s help shine a light on the importance of World Down Syndrome Day 2021.
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