Rock Your Socks With Us for World Down Syndrome Day
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- March 21, 2023
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Belize joins the rest of the world today in celebrating World Down Syndrome Day. This day of awareness is marked each year on March 21 to signify the uniqueness of the triplication of the 21st chromosome, which causes Down syndrome. Every year on March 21, World Down Syndrome Day is observed to create awareness about Down syndrome and to promote inclusivity and diversity. Reporter, Giovanna Moguel, tells us more.
Giovanna Moguel for Love News: “With us, not for us” – That is the theme for this year’s Down Syndrome Awareness day, and the idea behind it is for society to be more inclusive of persons with Down Syndrome. March 21 is a day that is set aside annually to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day, and one of the unique activities that Belizeans engaged in is wearing mismatched socks. This gesture is symbolic of the karyotype of Down Syndrome chromosomes, which look like mismatched socks. People with Down Syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21, and this condition affects their physical and intellectual development. The Special Education Program Coordinator at the Ministry of Education’s SpEd Unit, Christy Almeida, explains that wearing mismatched socks is a way to show support for individuals with Down Syndrome and celebrate their uniqueness.
Christy Almeida, Special Education Coordinator, Ministry of Health Special Ed Unit: “We want everybody to be encouraged to encourage participation. It’s not about planning something and then saying ‘Oh here you go.’ but encouraging everyone in the conversation and getting a voice there. And the socks is because the socks is because people wit Down Syndrome have an extra 21st chromosome and that chromosome kind of looks like colorful socks and so that came about and we’ve been encouraging everybody to do this and I think it’s been a happy day.
Giovanna Moguel for Love News: The mismatched socks campaign has gained popularity around the world in recent years, with many individuals, schools, and organizations participating in this fun and meaningful activity. In Belize, schools and businesses are encouraging their students and employees to wear mismatched socks and share pictures on social media using the hashtag “#RockYourSocksWithUs”. The Minister of Education, Francis Fonseca, took to social media this morning, donning his socks, as did CEO Diane Maheia. Other Government officials such as Prime Minister, John Briceño and Foreign Minister, Senator Eamon Courtenay, also participated in the activity. Almeida says that the outpour of support has grown significantly over the past year.
Christy Almeida, Special Education Coordinator, Ministry of Health Special Ed Unit: “We’ve really been pushing it this year and I’ve had so many pictures of schools around the country you know St.Mary’s, Stella Maris, St.Peter’s, New Hope, some schools down south I’m gonna get in trouble because they send me the pictures and I’m blanking on their names but we’ve gotten lots of those and it spread. The morning talk show hosts were wearing colors, our CEOs from different ministries, Department of Youth have been posting pictures, Ministry of Human Development, some ministers including ours at Ministry of Education so for something for really a first time for such a big initiative the response has been overwhelming and what I hope is that this starts a conversation. I want people to walk up and say wait why are you wearing those socks ? And we can start talking about Down Syndrome and what it’s like and that’s why we released the story that’s on our website, you can go to Inclusion Corner and get he link there. It features three young adults with Down Syndrome, you get to see their individual personalities, their strengths and that’s what we want to highlight with the Special Education Unit. We want to talk about inclusion, we want to talk about these disabilities. There’s no reason for it to be hidden.”
Giovanna Moguel for Love News: Apart from the sock campaign, different organizations in Belize organized other events to observe World Down Syndrome Day. These include virtual workshops, art exhibitions, and musical performances featuring individuals with Down Syndrome. The goal of these events is to showcase the talents and abilities of people with Down Syndrome and promote their inclusion in all aspects of society.
Christy Almeida, Special Education Coordinator, Ministry of Health Special Ed Unit: “The schools have been talking about it and doing things. We sent out a newsletter last week with the story When Downs is Up trying to get them to talk about it and do that. We’ve been trying to push our “Pledge Kindness” campaign around. So what you’re going to see coming up after Easter is a lot more of these efforts. It’s more about the education, the pushing inclusion corner but for the most part it’s really what the individual schools have been doing. I know there’ve been some posters being done, some talks being done at some other ones so kudos to them because we gave them some information and some schools really ran with it to promote the education.”
Giovanna Moguel for Love News: Almeida says that Belize’s observation of World Down Syndrome Day highlights the country’s growing commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and social justice. Giovanna Moguel for Love News.