World Down Syndrome Day

By: Ashley Stephens

The word “Freedom” has several meanings, the pursuit of equal opportunity for life, liberty, and happiness. Collectively, this affords us the opportunity to create the life we want to live. Perhaps, your life choice could make an impact on genetic research, discovering, and identifying complex disorders. The choice is yours and everyone should feel like they have that choice.

But, what if your life was chosen for you? The diagnosis of an individual with Down Syndrome (DS) often stereotypes the life they will live. Their diagnoses sets expectations for their health, capabilities, life span, and quality of life. Often times, a person with DS will endure health complications that consist of congenital heart defects, leukemia, hypotonia, and much more. Each complication presents a roadblock to the next milestone and it’s easy to look at their peers and be discouraged as they race past, milestone after milestone.Life may present you with a diagnosis, but it should not choose your life.

Pearson, Ashley’s son.

As a mother, an aspiration of mine is to encourage society to view individuals with Down Syndrome through the same lens as their peers, not the lens blurred by the preconceived notions of a diagnosis. This kind of clarity allows us to focus on what a person can do rather than what they can’t. Casting aside the stereotypes and the way things have always been done gives a person with DS freedom to pursue equal opportunity for life, liberty, and happiness. Choose to see past the diagnosis and share freedom.

World Down Syndrome Day is observed every year on March 21st. This is a global effort to raise Down Syndrome awareness and advocate for rights to inclusion and well-being, rights of all free people, even people with a diagnosis of Down Syndrome. On this day you can do something fun and educational. Wear your CRAZIEST pair of socks to represent the 3 Chromosomes that identify Down Syndrome. Post your crazy sock pictures with the hashtag #downswithpearson and show your support on March 21st!