Happy World Down Syndrome Day from all of us at World Endeavors! Founded in 2006, and officially recognized by the United Nations in 2012, March 21st of every year is a day to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of people with Down Syndrome in our home communities and worldwide.
This is a special day for us at World Endeavors, as some of our closest family and friends live with Down Syndrome, and many of our participants Volunteer and Intern with organizations that support people with special needs. We hope this post will help you understand what Down Syndrome is, inspire you to take action in your local community, and perhaps peak your interest in one of our Special Education Volunteer or Internship programs!
What is Down Syndrome?
Photo by Nathan Anderson via Unsplash
Down Syndrome describes a set of physical features, cognitive delays, and predisposition to thyroid or heart problems. It is a genetic disorder caused by extra genetic material from Chromosome 21, and manifests differently in every person. Some common physical features are short stature, delayed or slurred speech, and low-set ears. Despite the challenges of Down Syndrome, with special education and good medical care, most people with Down Syndrome live happy and productive lives. As the National Association for Down Syndrome explains, “The most important fact to know about individuals with Down Syndrome is that they are more like others than they are different.”
Down Syndrome Success Stories
Angela Bachiller – City Councilor, Valladolid, Spain
While working as an Administrative Assistant in the Social Welfare and Family Department of her local government, Angela Bachiller earned an appointment to the Valladolid City Council in 2013. Her appointment was especially inspiring at that time, as corruption and economic troubles had caused many Spanish citizens to lose faith in their political institutions. Councilwoman Bachiller has won praise from Valladolid’s Mayor and other colleagues for her strength and tenacity, and for her advocacy work for people and families with disabilities. Outside of her work in politics, Bachiller pursues Latin dance, the piano, and travel, and credits opportunities to be autonomous and pursue her education with her success.
There are countless stories like that of Councilwoman Bachiller’s. It’s also important to remember that all people with Down Syndrome are valuable just for being who they are, regardless of their accomplishments or careers!
Our Special Education Partners
World Endeavors partners with special education organizations all over the world, sending our participants to serve and learn as Interns and Volunteers. Check out some of our partners below!
Chloe, a Special Education Volunteer, with Quito Children
This foundation receives kids and some teenagers who have various special needs, such as Down syndrome, autism, and brain palsy. The main objective of this organization is providing care for families who cannot afford a private doctor. Some of these children and teenagers will eventually need to care for themselves, so these occupational therapists also assist parents and children in learning how to depend on themselves more, and, in turn, picture a brighter future for themselves.
Therese, Occupational Therapy Intern, with students at an athletics event for people with Cerebral Palsy
This special education center is the project of Her Royal Highness, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. The intention is to give education and necessary assistance to children who have difficult physical and/or mental disabilities (Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy), and are unable to attend a public school. The work of the center has also expanded to help sick children who were hospitalized for a long time and are unable to catch up with the school study term. The children’s ages range from newborns to 19 years old.
Prague, Czech Republic
Photo by userkarakal via Wikimedia Commons
This placement is at a day care center that provides services for children with physical and mental disabilities. Services include psychomotor development, communication support, and Hippotherapy (teaching motor skills and balance through horesback riding). Their aim is to provide timely support and assistance to families and children with disabilities, to eliminate or mitigate the effects of their disabilities, and help ensure that the child can grow up safely with their own family. The kids there range in age from 3-7 years old and include children with special needs, multiple disabilities, and autism. The staff of the center includes a team of physiotherapists, psychologists, and special education teachers. They collaborate to form individual plans for each child’s education and medical care.
Want to know how you can get involved locally? Check out the National Association for Down Syndrome for local affiliates.
Interested in Volunteering or Interning Abroad in Special Education? Contact a World Endeavors Adviser today!