Dear Friends of Special Olympics:
It is with pride and joy that I write on behalf of the global Special Olympics movement to request your support for the United Nations to declare March 21 as World Down Syndrome Day. I can think of no other population on earth more deserving of a day to celebrate their gifts, their needs, and their value to communities and countries the world over.
As you know so well, people with Down Syndrome have long been discriminated against, often violently all over the world. A diagnosis of Down Syndrome even today is often perceived as a curse, a burden, or a tragedy. Too often governments fail the test of human dignity by denying citizens with Down Syndrome access to health care, to education, and to human rights.
Too often this injustice breeds intolerance, and too often this intolerance breeds shame. This is a pattern that must end.
The designation of March 21 as World Down Syndrome Day would be an important step in opening the eyes of the world of the gifts of people with Down Syndrome. Like any other population, they have diverse needs, an array of skills, and a broad spectrum of gifts.
Most importantly, millions have come to understand that a person with Down Syndrome can be a gift to a family – a source of joy, pride, and fulfillment. In country after country, people with Down Syndrome have begun to sparkle, finding their voice, advocating for justice, spreading a unique and infectious enthusiasm for life. From the shadows of great and long-lasting pain, people with Down Syndrome are now emerging as a source of healing and enduring happiness.
The Special Olympics community – nearly 4 million athletes in 180 countries – celebrate the gifts of people with Down Syndrome every day. I hope that you will encourage the United Nations to designate March 21 as World Down Syndrome Day – one day on which the global community can join in the celebration of their gifts.
To sign the petition, visit: http://www.ds-int.org/news/wdsd-petition.