March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day. It’s a day to celebrate everyone who has been blessed by an extra chromosome, and we will hold our sweet Matthew extra close today (and probably give him ice cream!).
However, I’m afraid my heart is heavy tonight as I post this, after reading two more cases of abuse this week – one in a classroom, and one in a theater, with the latter resulting in the death of the victim, Robert Saylor. These cases break my heart. They are not the first, nor will they be the last. There was Bede Vanderhorst, a 16yo who was not allowed to sit in First Class on an airline, even though he had a first class ticket. And little 7 year old Angie who was suffocated by her own teachers! Then you have the state of Florida warehousing children with Down syndrome. And, perhaps worst of all, their own mother’s womb is still the most dangerous place in the world for children with Down syndrome.
And yet, 3/21 is a day set aside to let the world know that people with Down syndrome are, indeed, special. Not “special” in the way the word has come to be used as an insult, but rather truly precious, valued and loved individuals. Robert Saylor’s mother said in one of her interviews that abuse is only a symptom of a greater disease – of people viewing our children as something of a lesser being. it’s time to move beyond “awareness,” and onto acceptance. We need the world to accept the full humanity of our children with Down syndrome.
And so, it is fitting that the IDSC has chosen “Who I Am” for the theme for this year’s video. Let’s show the world who we are!