OCTOBER 13, 2010

Step up to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness

October is national Down syndrome awareness month
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PHOENIX – October is national Down syndrome awareness month. To celebrate National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, this October 30, Down Syndrome Network (DSN) will be hosting their 11th annual walk, Step Up for Down Syndrome during the Arizona State University Homecoming parade.  The walk is to promote awareness and acceptance of individuals with Down syndrome and to raise funds to support the numerous programs offered by this largely-volunteer local organization.

The walk is a wonderful family event that brings pride and lots of fun to the individuals with Down syndrome, their friends and families, and the parade onlookers.  "We walk, have lunch with friends. I love to wear the t-shirt." says Sam Brumand, aged 17 with Down syndrome. Brumand’s mom, Mary shares, “The SUDS walk is a great opportunity for us to publicly display the love and pride we have for our family members with Down syndrome. This way, it may help other people to also accept and embrace them.

Down Syndrome Awareness Month was established in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan to overcome stereotypes about people with Down syndrome and to highlight accurate information about the abilities and potential for those with this common genetic variation, according to National Down Syndrome Congress Executive Director David Tolleson.  “Like everyone else, people with Down syndrome have a variety of gifts.  Most attend their local schools and graduate with their peers.  Some have successful college careers.  Many work in the community, live independently, and/or have gotten married,” he notes. 

Individuals with Down syndrome have an extra, critical portion of the number 21 chromosome present in all, or some, of their cells.  This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. 

It is estimated that one in every 800-1,000 live births will result in a child with Down syndrome, representing approximately 5,000 births per year in the United States.  There are approximately 400,000 individuals with Down syndrome in the United States today.  Down syndrome was first described by John Langdon Down in 1866.  Most people have 46 chromosomes; individuals with Down syndrome have 47.  This is a result of the tripling of the 21st chromosome. There are three types of Down syndrome - Trisomy 21, Mosaicism and Translocation. There is no cure for Down syndrome, and nothing that the parents “did” caused Down syndrome.

There are a wide variation in the abilities, physical development and behavior of individuals with Down syndrome.  Each individual has their own unique personality, capabilities and talents.  With appropriate education, therapy, social support and opportunity, the majority of individuals with Down syndrome will lead fulfilling and productive lives.

Down Syndrome Network is a local 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization.  Its mission is to provide comprehensive education, support and advocacy for families and individuals affected by Down syndrome.  DSN is committed to providing a balance of life to those impacted by Down syndrome by providing educational seminars, social opportunities, important policy updates, an interactive website, partnership opportunities for school districts, and networking opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome and their families.

For more information about Down syndrome, Down syndrome Network or the Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk, please contact DSN 480-759-9150, info@dsnetworkaz.org or visit www.dsnetworkaz.org.