March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day. This is a very important day and is very close to our hearts with our beautiful Woody.
World Down Syndrome Day
World Down Syndrome Day, 21 March, is a day all about raising awareness of Down Syndrome and promoting inclusion. This day has been recognised since 2006 and officially observed by the United Nations since 2012.
Why the 21st of March? It signifies the three copies (3rd month) of the 21st chromosome which results in Down syndrome - more on this below.
We think WDSD is very, very important. 18% of Australians have disabilities and we are simply not inclusive enough and this must change. At F&F we have a very diverse team and we'd like to see more companies being more inclusive.
What's with the socks? We typically wear bright and bold socks on this day to start people talking and raise awareness.
What is Down Syndrome?
Down Syndrome, or Trisomy 21, is a genetic difference. Most of us have 23 pairs of chromosomes (46 all up) but someone with Down Syndrome has an extra copy of the 21st chromosome so 47 chromosomes.
This results in physical and intellectual differences which can include:
some level of intellectual difference
some characteristic physical features eg almond shaped eyes
increased risk of some health conditions (many of which are treatable)
some developmental delays
areas of strength and other areas where they need support
We have been asked a few times if we can cure Down Syndrome. It is a genetic difference, and a beautiful difference, so not something to be cured, and no it can't be.
Who is Woody?
Woody is our amazing two year old baby boy. We found out Woody had Down Syndrome when I (Julie) was 12 weeks pregnant. Being very frank the support around this diagnosis was non-existent and a lot needs to be done to support parents with this when they find out - it's a mission of mine to change this. Woody is a beautiful soul and he is the life of any room. He isn't walking yet and does a fantastic zombie crawl and this doesn't slow him down. He is learning like any other baby, just at his pace and we are in no rush. The best job we can do as parents is love him, support him and make sure we do everything to get him the right early intervention he needs so he has the best start in life. Woody also has an ASD (hole in the walls of his heart) so will need heart surgery in a year or two. Approximately 50% of babies born with Down Syndrome have congenital heart defects.
What Can I do?
The best thing you can do is be inclusive always, learn about Down Syndrome, and be an advocate for change.
Unconscious bias is a big thing and it slips in every day so try and be conscious of it. I hear many terrible stories of people with disabilities, not just Down Syndrome, being discriminated against in the workplace, at school, in shopping centres, and out and about. I would much prefer people to come up to me and ask about Woody and ask about Down Syndrome so that I can talk about it. So please, please think about always being inclusive and also being curious. You could really help change someone's life.
In addition, you can raise funds for Down Syndrome, or HeartKids. We raised money recently for HeartKids and then they came in to tell the team a little about what they do. And, of course, read about it.
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