Ireland recently joined in the international celebration of World Down Syndrome Day with exhibitions and a fundraising appeal that asked tweeters contribute by posting a photo of themselves wearing odd socks (a “footsie”).
In Dublin, the event was marked by a special photographic exhibition in Dublin Castle. Titled “Here I Am”, the exhibition is part of a tied-in book which exhibits photographs of people with Down Syndrome in Ireland. The national organisation says that the project is “about celebrating our children and creating positive awareness amongst the members of the public.”
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Now in its tenth year, the goal of World Down Syndrome Day 2015 is “My Opportunities, My Choices”, the aim being ensuring that people with Down Syndrome have equal rights and opportunities as everyone else.
In an effort to highlight this aim, events similar to those in Dublin have been held throughout the world. Sponsored walks and musical events took place across Britain. In New York, the Empire State Building was lit up to honor and celebrate people with Down Syndrome. This dual sentiment of honor and celebration is badly needed today to help counterbalance the inhumane and unjust treatment that is so often meted out to unborn babies who are diagnosed with Down Syndrome before birth.
It is estimated that in Britain, 92% of all babies diagnosed with Trisomy 21 are aborted. Happily, the events that are taking place there as part of the worldwide celebrations will be well-attended and supported by large portions of the population. But it remains a tragedy that there are many people who are not here today to participate. An added irony is that so many of those who will support the goals and events of World Down Syndrome Day will not be involved in those campaigns that are actively working to outlaw abortion that targets children with disabilities.
The groups and organisations who work towards achieving this aim are making great strides in this regard. But there remains a huge amount of work to be done before unborn babies with Down Syndrome have the same chance and are given the most fundamental right of all – the basic right to life.