World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is observed on 21 March. On this day, people with Down syndrome and those who live and work with them throughout the world organize and participate in activities and events to raise public awareness and create a single global voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion and well being of people with Down syndrome. Many of these events are recorded on the official World Down Syndrome Day website.
Down syndrome is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that has always been a part of the human condition, being universally present across racial, gender or socio-economic lines, and affecting approximately 1 in 800 live births, although there is considerable variation worldwide. Down syndrome usually causes varying degrees of intellectual and physical disability and associated medical issues.
The date for WDSD being the 21st day of the 3rd month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome. The original idea was proposed by members of the European Down Syndrome Association and Down Syndrome International.
WDSD was first observed in 2006 in many countries around the world and Down Syndrome Association Singapore launched and hosted the World Down Syndrome Day website from 2006-2010, on behalf of Down Syndrome International, for global activities to be recorded.
On 19 December 2011, the United Nations General Assembly declared 21 March as World Down Syndrome Day (A/RES/66/149). The General Assembly decided to “designate 21 March as World Down Syndrome Day, to be observed every year beginning in 2012;” and “invites 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;”.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon said on 21 March 2012 “On this day, let us reaffirm that persons with Down syndrome are entitled to the full and effective enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Let us each do our part to enable children and persons with Down syndrome to participate fully in the development and life of their societies on an equal basis with others. Let us build an inclusive society for all.”
Since 2011, Down Syndrome International (DSi) has co-ordinated the World Down Syndrome Day website and the WDSD Global Video Event “Let Us In!”. In 2012, DSi organized the first WDSD Conference held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA on 21 March which was sponsored by the Brazilian Mission and Polish Mission to the United Nations, UN Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and UNICEF and was organized in collaboration with the Brazilian Federation of Associations of Down Syndrome, Down España, National Down Syndrome Congress, National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation, and Global Down Syndrome Foundation. DSi also announces the World Down Syndrome Day Awards every year on 21 March.