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World Down Syndrome Day

11 April 2018

Sheri Brynard

What I bring to my community

In 2011, the United Nations General Assembly designated 21 March as World Down Syndrome Day.  In adopting the resolution, the UN General Assembly called for “all Member States, relevant organizations of the United Nations system and other international organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, to observe World Down Syndrome Day in an appropriate manner, in order to raise public awareness of Down syndrome.”

Down syndrome is the most common occurring genetic condition caused by an extra chromosome, known as Trisomy 21, which causes both physical and intellectual delay.  Evidence suggests that the pre-valence of live-births is 1-500 in South Africa.

What do we as a nation and more specifically our government do to honour and commemorate this day?  What has the government done to improve the lives of persons with intellectual disabilities, specifically persons with Down syndrome?

Perhaps the government of South Africa can answer this in terms of its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which it ratified in 2007, when they appear for review before the CRPD committee in September 2018.

The reality for many persons with Down syndrome living in South Africa is that obstacles, such as discrimination and exclusion, still prevent them from being able to enjoy their full and equal rights and to participate fully in their communities as defined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Many of our members have expressed grave concerns that they cannot make decisions on their own and are prevented from choosing where and with whom to live, excluded from the labour market, many of them live under the poverty line, which only deepens their social exclusion and marginalization.  Many children with Down syndrome are excluded from mainstream schools, and either segregated in special schools or denied access to education completely.  Thus, persons with Down syndrome still don’t have access to justice, to education, to goods and services, and to healthcare on an equal basis as others.

All persons with Down syndrome must have opportunities to contribute to the community and live valued lives, in all aspects of society. It is with this in mind that the focus for World Down Syndrome Day 2018 was “What I bring to my community”

This campaign was about encouraging persons with Down syndrome and their advocates to show the world how they can contribute to society, that they can and do bring so much to the community, wherever they live around the world, when given the opportunity.

#WhatIBringToMyCommunity #WDSD18, was a call to every person with Down syndrome to tell the world what they brought to their community.

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