Both the TCI Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education recognizes today as World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), 21 March; a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012.
Let us as a country join hands, minds and with love celebrate, recognize, support and create our own national voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion and holistic development of all individuals among us with Down Syndrome.
Down Syndrome is a congenital disorder arising from a chromosome defect, causing intellectual impairment and physical abnormalities. It arises from a defect involving chromosome 21, usually an extra copy (trisomy -21).
Five Facts on Down Syndrome:
1. Children with Down syndrome do best in an inclusive learning environment, and typical kids do best when they learn about diversity, kindness, and friendship at an early age. Inclusive classrooms teach and benefit all kids;
2. In 1983, the average life expectancy of a person with Down Syndrome was a mere 25 years old. Today, it’s 60;
3. People with Down syndrome contribute to their families, their schools, their co-workers, their employers, and society;
4. People with Down syndrome are beautiful;
5. A person’s facial features do not determine cognitive ability. Just because someone has many of the characteristic physical feature of Down syndrome does not mean they have a lower Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Just because someone has soft features of Down syndrome does not mean their IQ is higher.
Although there are less than 8 persons with Down Syndrome registered in the Turks & Caicos Islands, our aim is to enable people with Down Syndrome to speak up, be heard and influence government policy and action to provided essential services for these special individuals. Additionally, the Special Needs Unit Director Ms. Betty-Ann Been and Education Officer-Special Needs Mr. Jasmin S. Walkin are committed with the support of their respective ministries to advocate for the education and successful inclusion of these individuals in our community here in the Turks & Caicos Islands.
Sevenly states, “When you judge someone based on a diagnosis you miss out on their abilities beauty and uniqueness”.
Let us be our brother keepers and take time out to show genuine love to persons with Down Syndrome.