Today, the United Nations Human Rights Office in Geneva, the Palais des Nations, will host the 2018 World Down Syndrome Day. Down Syndrome International will this year focus on encouraging those with Down Syndrome to speak up about “What I bring to my community”, aiming to highlight the contribution of those with Down Syndrome in political and employment domains, their gifts and strengths and what enables them to contribute and participate in their community.

Down Syndrome is a genetic condition that occurs when a baby is born with a third, extra copy of chromosome 21. It affects approximately 1 in 1000 live birthsworldwide, though these numbers are somewhat lower in Australia, affecting around 1 in 800 babies. The additional chromosome is due to a process called disjuncture, during which genetic materials fail to separate at a crucial point in gamete formation. Thereason for disjuncture is not known and the condition does not discriminate between ethnic or social groups, however there is a connection to a woman’s age at the time of pregnancy.

While the condition is associated with numerous other health complications including hearing and sight defects, congenital heart disease and some degree of learning difficulty, there are many people living with Down Syndrome who live happy, healthy and independent lives. World Down Syndrome Day works to highlight this fact and provide a platform for those living with the condition to fight for their rights and opportunities. It also aims to communicate to policy makers and key stakeholders the significant contributions those living with Down Syndrome can make to their community and how they can best provide opportunities to enable such participation.

Often partnering with organisations and patients involvedwith challenging diseases and disabilities, we at VIVA! understand just how important it is to raise awareness and improve the education around conditions such as Down Syndrome to ensure these members of our community are provided with equal opportunities and offered the best chance at living a full and happy life.

Fun fact: World Down Syndrome day is held on the 21st day of the third month to signify the triplication of the chromosome 21.

For more information on World Down Syndrome Day, you can visit their website.