Many with Down syndrome are still denied aspects of life we take for granted, like going to school, playing sports, hanging out with friends, having a job and living independently, due to inadequate governmental support and continued discrimination.
In light of this discrepancy, on World Down Syndrome Day (21 March), FCB Mexico, CoorDown Onlus and Small are launching a global awareness campaign called ‘Reasons to Celebrate,’ to highlight how far we are as a society from meeting our equal opportunity obligations towards people with Down syndrome. With the concurrent theme of ‘Leave No One Behind,’ the campaign emphasizes that inclusive education, open employment, community participation, independent living and decision-making autonomy represent basic rights that should be guaranteed to everybody.
The campaign video begins by spotlighting three United Nations–declared days that are also celebrated on March 21: World Day of Poetry, International Day of Nowruz celebrating the arrival of Spring, and International Day of Forests. When a person with Down syndrome announces that this same day is also World Down Syndrome Day, there is less joy associated. The actor states defiantly that, unlike the other three international days, “We do not have many reasons to celebrate” and that, as long as even one single person cannot enjoy the same opportunities to learn, work and participate in life, “there is no reason to celebrate.”
“The campaign ‘Reasons to Celebrate’ aims at shaking people’s conscience and highlighting how far-off the objectives of full equal rights and opportunities are for all people with Down syndrome,” said Antonella Falugiani, president of CoorDown Onlus. “The very fact that there is the need to celebrate this day means that we still have to work to do for the recognition and promotion of diversity, and for effecting a deep cultural change towards disabilities.”
This year’s World Down Syndrome Day theme links back to the goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for sustainable development — the global plan of action to promote prosperity and well-being for all humankind, pledging that “no one will be left behind.”
“I believe, overall, in diversity. I´ve experienced throughout my entire career how diversity makes for better ideas and better work environments, and therefore, for a better society. I like to think about people with Down syndrome not as people with a certain condition, but as part of the diversity that represents all the possibilities of what it means to be human,” said Javier Campopiano, partner and chief creative officer at FCB Mexico. “From that point-of-view, this campaign, represents all those possibilities and the things that are still stopping people with Down syndrome from reaching their full potential: the limitations that society still imposes on them more than their own ones.”
On March 21, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, CoorDown will be represented by Marta Sodano, a 25-year-old woman with Down syndrome, who will participate as a self-advocate at the Leave No One Behind in Education Conference organized for World Down Syndrome Day. Together with many other speakers from around the world, Sodano will share her story – reflecting those of many other Italian students – and describe the hurdles and milestones of her educational journey. The event will focus on education: the aim is to promote innovative approaches which will provide opportunities for everybody, including people with Down syndrome.
The campaign was developed in partnership with FCB Mexico and Small New York, directed by the Hungarian director Rudolf Péter Kiss and produced by Switzerland’s Gosh in Budapest, with the participation of actors from the UK, Albania, Switzerland, and Italy. The international campaign was also launched with Down Syndrome International.