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21 March 2024 – World Down Syndrome Day“ Assume That I Can”

In preparation for World Down Syndrome Day 2024, The New Zealand Down Syndrome Association (NZDSA) is joining forces with groups around the world to end the stereotypes and the low expectations that get between people with Down syndrome and true inclusivity here in Aotearoa and internationally.

On World Down Syndrome Day, March 21, 2024, CoorDown - the National Coordination of Associations of People with Down Syndrome, based in Italy - is launching the international awareness campaign "ASSUME THAT I CAN” to call for everyone to put an end to prejudice and support the concrete potential of each person who has Down syndrome.

NZDSA is delighted to be a partner in this project, and Kiwis with Down syndrome will be joining the chorus of diverse voices, echoing around the world.

Stereotypes, biases and low expectations strongly affect every aspect of the lives of people with learning disabilities: they represent an often-impassable boundary which limits their ambitions; their opportunities at school, in the workplace, in sports, in their communities, friendships, and romantic relationships.

"ASSUME THAT I CAN” features a young woman with Down syndrome, portrayed by Madison Tevlin, who challenges the low expectations others have of her and proposes a reversal of perspective. She invites the viewer, and society at large, to think outside the box and use the self-fulfilling prophecy positively: if you believe in me, if you trust in me, you can have a positive impact, and then, maybe, I will achieve goals, even unexpected ones.

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The international campaign started with CoorDown in Italy, but sees the contribution of several international associations that are simultaneously launching the film worldwide: Canadian Down Syndrome Society, National Down Syndrome Society, Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Down's Syndrome Association UK, Down Syndrome Australia and New Zealand Down Syndrome Association with the participation of members of the Fundació Catalana Síndrome de Down.

Starting today until 21 March, CoorDown and partners, including NZDSA’s, social media will broadcast the real experiences of people with Down syndrome and their families from all over the world, sharing examples of the types of stereotypes experienced and the biases they've overcome. The #OfCourse trend has seen hundreds of thousands of people revealing the stereotypes they've experienced around their job, hobby or identity, while at the same time poking fun at these common perceptions, and now people with Down syndrome are joining in.

Luca Lorenzini and Luca Pannese, Executive Creative Directors, SMALL New York: «This year, we wanted to make a very different film than in previous years. Taking inspiration from a speech Marta Sodano gave to the United Nations a few years ago, we set out to give a strong message against prejudice. Thanks to Madison [Tevlin]'s great acting skills and versatility and the talent of director Rich Lee, we made a film full of energy that we hope will help break down the stereotypes that still restrict the dreams and plans of people with Down syndrome».

World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is an international awareness day officially declared by the UN General Assembly in December 2022. All are invited to observe World Down Syndrome Day to spread awareness and knowledge about Down syndrome, to create a new culture of diversity, and to promote respect and inclusion in society for all people with Down syndrome.

In Aoteraoa, events will be taking place on and around the 21st of March across the motu, including:

  • THE BIG CONNECT – New Zealand’s biggest Down syndrome video call, hosted by NZDSA, taking place at 7.30pm on World Down Syndrome Day 2024. This event originally began as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, but has proved so popular that NZDSA have continued the tradition ever since. The 2024 event will explore the theme of #EndtheStereotypes.
  • Down for a Walk, Heatea Loop, Whangārei Town Basin, 23 March
  • Community Picnic, Papatoetoe East, Auckland, 17 March
  • WDSD + Aklfest Picnic, Aotea Square, Auckland 21 March (Part of Auckland Arts Festival)
  • Garden Sale, Island Bay, Wellington, 17 March
  • Lots of Socks fundraisers, nationwide, 21 March

The choice of the date 21/3 is not accidental: Down syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21, is characterized by the presence of an extra chromosome - three instead of two - in chromosome pair No. 21 within cells.

Andrew, a young man from Canterbury, explains one example, “I used to work at a primary school. I was hoping to help with the school newsletters on the office computer. I presented my CV to the receptionist to show her what I can do. She asked me, “Who did this for you?” I told to her I did it. She did not believe that I made the CV and she did not let me help her”.

Film details

The film “ASSUME THAT I CAN” will run on CoorDown’s TikTok channel and will be distributed on all the platforms of the organization and its partners. The campaign is born from the collaboration with the New York-based agency SMALL and was produced by Indiana Production and directed by Rich Lee, with Christopher Probst as director of photography. Music was composed and produced by Stabbiolo Music.

The campaign’s official hashtags are #AssumeThatICan #EndTheStereotypes #WorldDownSyndromeDay #WDSD24.










Agency: SMALL

Executive Creative Directors: Luca Pannese, Luca Lorenzini

Creative Director: Paolo Montanari

Managing Director: Alberto Scorticati

Account Manager: Chiara Guadagnini


Production Company: Indiana Production S.p.A.

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