Saturday, March 21, 2015

March 21: World Down Syndrome Day

March is a such beautiful month that I always anticipate.

Many events occur that signify change during this month. There’s the switch to Daylight Saving Time during the beginning of the month, the change of seasons from winter to spring on the March 20th, and all of the transformation in vegetation with its bursting forth in green and blossoms along with all of its yucky, yellow pollen.

March is also the month that brings about that much anticipated week for school children and teachers alike – Spring Break. This week is such a joyous time for those mentioned as well as their families. It’s the week to leave all the stress of school/work and the blah winter season behind and take time to breathe and enjoy. The only time I didn’t like Spring Break was when I lived in Panama City and all of the college kids invaded the beaches. I always headed out of town during that time because of the traffic and all of the crazy events that usually happened because kids didn’t make wise choices. I moved away from PC ten years ago and from what I read, the crowds have gotten worse.

Pi Day, March 14, received a lot of press this year because of the first seven digits after the decimal point. This year you could stop at 9:26 am or pm and record the digits representing Pi – 3.1415926. As a person who does not love math, the only Pi I recognize is spelled differently – PIE.

As an English teacher, I always recognize March 15, the Ides of March, not because of the ancient Roman religious observation but because William Shakespeare referred to it in Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 15–19:
Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry "Caesar!" Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.
Beware the ides of March.
What man is that?
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March. 
If you remember studying the play, probably in 10th grade English, you know that later, Brutus stabs Caesar in the back and the other senators join in to assassinate Caesar. Good times!

Other celebratory days in March include St. Patrick’s Day; the birthdays of Dr. Seuss, Albert Einstein, Big Bird, and Barbie; the invention of the rubber band, the pencil with an attached eraser, and Coca-cola; and of course, March Madness for all the basketball lovers.

One extremely important event that was established on March 21, 2012, and officially observed by the United Nations, is World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD). On this date each year, these wonderful people who were born with three copies of chromosome 21 (instead of the usual two copies) are recognized. The goal is that community groups and individuals will bring awareness of this genetic abnormality by performing different events to show how people with Down syndrome play a very important role in our lives and communities.

One activity that I’m taking part in is a simple one, a random act of kindness (RAOK). It’s the same premise as any RAOK in that you do something nice for someone, but in this instance, you give a card saying that you are doing this in honor of all people with Down syndrome.

Sometimes people do these acts anonymously and that’s certainly fine with this activity; however, it might be nice to stick around so that you can answer any questions or tell about the person(s) you know with Down syndrome.

I found this at the Piedmont, NC Down Syndrome Support Network but there are many other sites about simple activities that you can do to educate the world about these fine people. Here is the link to the information letter and postcard you can print and give out if you want to participate in the RAOK for World Down Syndrome Day. 

On March 21, and every day of the year, I encourage you to take part in educating people about Down syndrome.

Happy March!

Drew, my 27-year-old son, who is a wonderful person with Down syndrome.