Learn & Show Respect on World Down Syndrome Day

Stephanie and Lindsay are Hall of Fame athletes. They have great jobs. They are global ambassadors and advocates in the nation’s capital. Lindsay is married. Stephanie is a world traveler.

And both women have Down syndrome.

World Down Syndrome Day is on Tuesday, March 21, and has been officially recognized by the United Nations since 2012 as a way to raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome and how individuals with Down syndrome play an impactful role in our communities and society as a whole.

It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that approximately one in every 700 babies in the U.S. is born with Down syndrome – or about 6,000 born every year – making it the most common chromosomal condition. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. While there are three types of Down syndrome, trisomy 21 accounts for 95 percent of all cases. Hence, World Down Syndrome Day on 3.21.

Down syndrome research has improved mightily in recent years and scientists are continuing to learn more every day. Quality educational programs, a stimulating home environment, good health care and positive support from family, friends and the community help people with Down syndrome make strides in their own right. Incredibly, the life expectancy for someone with Down syndrome has improved from 9 years old in 1910; to 25 in 1983; to now approximately 60.

Individuals with Down syndrome, and those with other intellectual disabilities, battle stereotypes and overcome obstacles every day to hold jobs, play sports, vote, develop meaningful relationships and play an active role in the community. Stephanie and Lindsay have been Special Olympics athletes for more than 20 years and currently serve as Special Olympics Global Ambassadors. Both have steady jobs and Lindsay lives independently in an apartment with her husband, and fellow Special Olympics athlete, Ryan.

People like Stephanie and Lindsay are among thousands of Special Olympics athletes who have used the values of teamwork, leadership, accountability and persistence to transition on-field success to achievements in life.

Special Olympics Nevada offers year-round competitions and training, health services and education to 3,260 athletes and 6,500 students throughout the region – all free of charge. It is thanks to generous supporters like you that we can continue this mission.

Follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @SONevada for updates and more stories in honor of World Down Syndrome Day.