National Down Syndrome Awareness Day 2016: The road to an inclusive tomorrow


Peace, love security and respect for human rights are the corner stones for human dignity and life, more so for persons with disabilities. National Down Syndrome Awareness Day is commemorated in South Africa to create awareness about Down syndrome and falls on 20 October each year.

Down syndrome is the most common and naturally occurring chromosomal genetic condition and is the largest single cause of intellectual disabilities.

In South Africa, one in every 500 babies is born with Down syndrome each year. It is therefore vital to raise awareness and dispel the myths that surround Down syndrome and to change societies pre-conceived ideas and prejudice that they might have.

22 years after the dawn of democracy South Africa still struggles to build a better society and improved quality of life for all who live in it. While we continue to make steady progress in honouring our constitutional and international obligations in terms of the National Development Plan and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, persons with Down syndrome are still excluded from mainstream society and this adversely affects their rights and freedoms.

The finalisation of the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the launch of National Disability Awareness Month sends a beacon of hope and puts disability in the forefront. But we all share a responsibility to work together to build tolerance of differences and wipe out ignorance by joining hands and supporting National Down Syndrome Day.

Down Syndrome South Africa aims to create awareness around abilities rather than disabilities.

It has regional branches and support groups across the country that will be hosting activities to celebrate National Down Syndrome Day. Also look out for television and radio interviews, community events, talks at schools and businesses as well as selling our stickers.

These awareness days play an important part in the positive shifts in attitudes towards people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities.  

Make a difference!

How can you make a difference and show your support?

  • Visit the DSSA website and learn more about Down syndrome.
  • Talk with parents whose child has Down syndrome.
  • Donate to the DSSA.
  • Set up DSSA as a beneficiary on your My School Card.
  • Wear the "Keep calm, it's only an extra chromosome" T-shirt! Order from the DSSA.
  • Contact Ancella Ramjas, National Director at Down Syndrome South Africa on or 0861 369 672 if you or your company would like to help with funding.

Would you like to share your story or comments? Please email for possible publication.

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