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Down Syndrome Community In Aotearoa Join With International Call To #EndtheStereotypes This World Down Syndrome Day

Down Syndrome International and the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association are calling for people and organisations around the world to embrace this year’s theme of #EndtheStereotypes. Around 4,000 Kiwis live with Down syndrome. It can impact any whānau, regardless of ethnicity, location, or tax bracket. Thursday 21 March 2024, World Down Syndrome Day, is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate people with Down syndrome and their whānau across the motu.

The recent media awareness campaign, “Assume I Can”, challenges us to think twice about what we might consider a person with Down syndrome capable of. Would you assume someone with Down syndrome couldn’t play piano, have a job, live alone, or use technologies like zoom for instance?

What better way to disabuse anyone of this last idea than the fourth annual Big Connect – the enormous community zoom event started by the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association in response to COVID-19 restrictions and continued ever since.

The Big Connect will be opened by the Minister for Disability Issues, the Honourable Penny Simmonds, before she hands the stage to the President of Down Syndrome International, Bridget Snedden, Prudence Walker the Disability Rights Commissioner, Paula Tesoriero, Chief Executive, Whaikaha, Ministry of Disabled People, followed by high-profile experts and advocates in the fields of human rights, education, employment, sports, and arts, including people with Down syndrome. Anyone is welcome to join this kōrero by following the link on NZDSA’s facebook page.

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“People with Down syndrome are underestimated every single day in Aotearoa, New Zealand,” says Vaccarino.

“In education, employment, social life, community life, healthcare, and so much more. We need to do better as a country and the Enabling Good Lives principles are a powerful mechanism by which we can end the stereotypes that impact the lives of people with Down syndrome.”

Challenging the assumption that people with Down syndrome can’t star in a stage show, Lily-Mae Ivatt-Oakley will be performing as part of the Glass Ceiling Arts Collective show at the Auckland Arts Festival on World Down Syndrome Day. The show will run at 11am and 2pm, with a community picnic in Aotea Square between, hosted by the Auckland Down Syndrome Association.

Regional Down syndrome Associations around Aotearoa held events over the weekend, and anyone in any part of New Zealand or the world is invited to rock their most colourful socks on the day to show support.

World Down Syndrome Day provides so many fun and positive ways to celebrate. However, the message of #EndtheStereotypes is a critical one. Even seemingly positive stereotypes like “People with Down syndrome are happy all the time” can create huge barriers to inclusion. Stereotypes deny the individuality of a person, and this World Down Syndrome Day is a time to acknowledge and counteract this.

“A commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and Enabling Good Lives Principles are crucial if we want to #EndtheStereotypes that currently impact the lives of people with Down syndrome,” Vaccarino says.

This year’s World Down Syndrome Day message is a timely and essential one, and NZDSA invites the wider community to consider how they can #EndtheStereotypes.

© Scoop Media

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