Don’t leave them out

A call has been made for greater inclusion of individuals with Down Syndrome in Barbados.

It comes as countries across the globe celebrate World Down Syndrome Day tomorrow.

According to spokesperson of the Barbados Down Syndrome Support Group, Asha Alleyne-Renwick, the time has come for Barbadian society to realize the great potential of individuals with Down Syndrome.

“There is no longer a place for the archaic belief that to be born with Down Syndrome means you are incapable of functioning within society. The 21st century has seen individuals with Down Syndrome across the globe making tremendous strides, including graduating from high school, living independently, holding full time jobs and even getting married. This is what we want to see happen right here in Barbados. For this to take place, however, there needs to be an across the board attitude shift towards inclusion of children with Down Syndrome in sectors such as education, health care and social institutions,” she said.

This year’s World Down Syndrome Day theme is “Health and Wellbeing- Access and Equality for All”. World Down Syndrome Day is observed every year on March 21st (3/21), in recognition of the 3 copies of chromosome 21 that are present in most people living with Down Syndrome.

Global umbrella body, Down Syndrome International, which has over 30 member countries worldwide and hundreds of state associations and organizations, is advocating for the removal of discrimination within the healthcare sector. They have highlighted various facts relating to Down Syndrome and health care, such as the fact that having Down Syndrome does not make a person unhealthy as well as the fact that  Down Syndrome is a genetic condition and not an illness.

Down Syndrome got its name from English physician John Langdon Down who, in 1866, published an accurate description of a person with Down Syndrome. Also referred to as Trisomy 21, Down Syndrome occurs when an individual has three rather than two copies of the 21st chromosome. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down Syndrome.

Down Syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition.  It occurs in people of all races, ages and economic statuses.  Currently, 80% of babies with Down Syndrome are born to women under the age of 35. A few common physical traits of Down Syndrome are low muscle tone, small stature, an upward slant to the eyes and a single crease across the center of the palm. It is worth noting, however, that every person with Down Syndrome is a unique individual and may possess these characteristics to different degrees or not at all.

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