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World Down Syndrome Day means celebration and inclusion

Posted at 10:19 PM, Mar 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-22 01:19:33-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated around the world on March 21. About one in 700 babies are born with the congenital disorder.

The day means a few different things to the Coleman family. For one, it's about including those with Down Syndrome, like their two-year-old daughter Bellamy, in everyday life.

"Not only do we get to celebrate Bellamy, but we get to recognize others in the community and spread awareness about what it is for someone you know or love to have Down Syndrome," Brandy Coleman said.

World Down Syndrome Day falls on March 21 because it represents the three copies of chromosome 21, what people with Down Syndrome have.

Wearing mismatched or colorful, fun socks is one way people draw attention to the day.

"Most people know about Down Syndrome, but not everybody has a personal experience with it," Chelsea Hansen, the vice president with the Southern Arizona Network for Down Syndrome, or SANDS, said.

Hansen, who has a nine-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome, says a lot has been done to include people with Down Syndrome, and allow them to be more self sufficient. Children are more often being immersed with their peers in classes and in the workforce.

"In the past, people were institutionalized," Hansen said. "And that a lot of times, was because they didn't know how to properly care for them."

Hansen says the work doesn't stop after March 21. For families like hers, and the Coleman's, raising awareness and educating people about Down Syndrome is everyday.

"Bellamy and our other friends that have an extra chromosome -- there's no limitations to what they can do," Coleman said.

SANDS is preparing for the annual Tucson Buddy Walk this November.