World Down Syndrome Day

World Down Syndrome Day is an observance that falls on March 21st every year. The purpose of this holiday is for people to come together to raise awareness and advocate for the rights of individuals with Down syndrome. Down syndrome is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that has affected people of all racial, gender, and socioeconomic backgrounds and has occurred throughout human history. This condition causes intellectual and physical disabilities, as well as acute medical problems, that can vary from individual to individual.

History of World Down Syndrome Day

While Down syndrome has occurred throughout history, it wasn’t classified as a mental disability until English physician John Langdon Down did so in 1862. During the 20th century, doctors learned quite a bit more about Down syndrome, and it became one of the most recognizable forms of mental disability in the world. According to the United Nations, Down syndrome affects 1 out of every 800 births in the world.

In the early 2000s, various Down syndrome advocacy groups, such as Down Syndrome International, organized various events for World Down Syndrome Day. It took the United Nations several years to officially acknowledge this day and promote it. That occurred in 2011.

The United Nations General Assembly declared March 21st as World Down Syndrome Day in December of 2011 by issuing Resolution 66/149. The following year, the first World Down Syndrome Day was observed on March 21st – as it has been every year since then.

Down Syndrome Problems & Complications

About 50% of all adults and children with Down syndrome will face a major mental health concern during their lives. The most common mental health concerns among those with Down syndrome include anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, repetitive behaviors, inattentive behaviors, sleep problems, depression, autism spectrum disorders, and the progressive loss of cognitive skills. These problems can be exacerbated if the adult or child has multiple medical problems. If they do, then they can face an even higher rate of mental health difficulties.

World Down Syndrome Day Customs & Traditions

World Down Syndrome Day is recognized in almost 70 countries all over the world. Many organizations promote this day using a variety of events. These can include concerts, lectures, public exhibits, town hall meetings, and other activities. Many Down syndrome advocates will also use the day to spread the word about Down syndrome and to showcase the abilities and accomplishments of those who have been diagnosed with Down syndrome. Many of these events will place their focus on encouraging those with Down syndrome to seek a life of freedom, independence, and self-advocacy.

Many people will wear wristbands or ribbons to promote World Down Syndrome Day. These bands and ribbons come in a variety of different colors, but all of them usually contain “Down Syndrome” or “World Down Syndrome Day” in their message. For people promoting the day on social media, a variety of hashtags is often used. These can include #DownSyndrome, #WorldDownSyndromeDay, #DownSyndromeCuties, #SeeTheAbility, or some other such hashtag.

Since this day is a U.N. observance and not a public holiday, businesses, banks, and government buildings are not closed for this day, and public transportation routes are not altered.

When is it?
This year (2024)
March 21 Thursday
Next year (2025)
March 21 Friday
Last year (2023)
March 21 Tuesday
Awareness & Cause, United Nations