Help Designate March 21 as World Down Syndrome Day – Sign the Petition!

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:

Best wishes,
Tim Shriver

About the Author

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Timothy P. Shriver is a social leader, educator, activist, film producer and business entrepreneur. As Chairman & CEO of Special Olympics, he serves nearly 4 million Special Olympics athletes in 180 countries. He has transformed Special Olympics into a movement that focuses on acceptance, inclusion, and respect for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Shriver created exciting new Special Olympics initiatives in athlete leadership, cross-­cultural research, health, and education. Among them, Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® has become the world’s largest public health screening and education program for people with intellectual disabilities, and Special Olympics Get Into It®, together with Unified Sports®. Promotes inclusion and acceptance. Before joining Special Olympics in 1995, Shriver was and remains a leading educator focusing on the social and emotional development in learning. He co-­founded and currently chairs the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the leading research organization in the U.S. in the field of social and emotional learning. Shriver earned his undergraduate degree from Yale University, a Master’s degree from Catholic University, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Connecticut.  

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