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Dublin: 17 °C Saturday 4 July, 2020

Here's why some people are deliberately wearing odd socks today

Attitudes towards Down syndrome have changed over the decades and new campaigns launched today show how.

IF YOU’VE SEEN people showing off their odd socks on social media or in the office today, you might be wondering what’s happening.

The socks are to mark World Down Syndrome Day today, for the reason that they look a bit like chromosomes, and people with Down syndrome have an extra chromosome (making 47 altogether). 

While people across Ireland and the UK have been showing off their odd socks (usually matched with a donation to a Down syndrome support organisation), a number of organisations have launched new information campaigns to help parents. 

Down Syndrome Ireland is launching a new booklet today, called ‘…more than medical’, which is intended to be a resource for parents with a pre- or postnatal diagnosis of Down syndrome for their baby.

It has also launched a video for new parents, called ‘Having a child with Down syndrome’. On Sunday 24 March, it will hold its fourth annual Purple Run, which is held to raise funds for DSI. 

There are about 7,000 people in Ireland with Down syndrome, and DSI works with about 3,500 of them. DSI says that children with Down syndrome can have increased risk of certain health issues, such as congenital heart defects and hearing, vision, thyroid and respiratory problems.

As the life expectancy of people with Down syndrome is increasing, it’s hugely important that the living and learning needs of people who have Down syndrome are supported, says DSI. 

Along with this, ideas and attitudes about living with Down syndrome have changed, with the outdated beliefs around the capabilities of people with Down syndrome changing in recent decades.  

With that in mind, The Down Syndrome Centre has a new campaign for today called I Could Be, which it says is “about supporting a brighter future for people with Down syndrome”.

Images of 18 children with Down Syndrome will be displayed around Dublin city centre today, each with the #ICouldBe message on it. The messages range from ‘I could be a TV presenter’ to ‘I could be a model’ to ‘I could be an artist’. It’s all about challenging the perceptions that people might have around what that one extra chromosome means:

The campaign aims to promote the message that while people with Down syndrome need additional supports, they have innate potential, skills, talents and unique perspectives to bring to society and to a chosen profession.
‘I Could Be’ is about supporting career opportunities for people with Down syndrome and opportunities to develop and progress in life.

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