World Down Syndrome Day celebrated on Vancouver Island
Ribbons and pictures line a portion of the Gorge waterway in Saanich, B.C., put there by the Greater Victoria Down Syndrome Society to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day.
The blue and yellow ribbons represent the colours used to bring awareness to the rights and needs of those living the syndrome.
The pictures are those of children and youth with living happy lives.
Held on March 21 since 2012, this year marks 11 years since the United Nations started the campaign. The date of the 21st day of the third month represents the one trait all individuals with Down syndrome have, which is a third copy of the 21st chromosome.
This years campaign is called "With Us Not For Us."
"Often times in the disability community, well-meaning people want to do things for people that are disabled,” Paul Crowley, president of the Greater Victoria Down Syndrome Society, says.
"What the Down syndrome community wants you to hear is that they want support to be able to do things for themselves, so they want that support to be able to go out and find a job, to live independently and do those types of things."
Crowley said the lives of those with down syndrome are improving.
Forty years ago, the average life expectancy for people with Down syndrome was 25 years. Crowley says they now have a life expectancy of 60 years.
There has also been a focus on inclusion in education, employment, housing and other areas that has allowed individuals to live much more independent lives, he added.
“Often times individuals with Down syndrome are considered to not be able to respond, not be able to contribute, not given the opportunity,” he said.
“We ask people to kind of wait 10 seconds when you talk to somebody or ask them a question so that they have a chance to respond because if you do you’ll be amazed at what they can contribute."
The B.C. Legislature, Victoria City Hall and Saanich Municipal Hall will be lit up Tuesday evening in blue and yellow to show support for those living with Down syndrome.
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