Did you know that World Down Syndrome Day is Wednesday, March 21? This day encourages individuals with Down syndrome, as well as their supporters, advocates, employers and government officials to help raise global awareness around what Down syndrome is, and how those with Down syndrome play a critical role in our lives.
This year, Down Syndrome International's campaign "What I bring to my community" aims to explain how people with Down syndrome make meaningful contributions to society and encourages sharing this message and bringing about change. Most importantly, this year's theme aspires to empower those with Down syndrome and support them to advocate for their own rights to spark new opportunities.
In light of World Down Syndrome Day, we'd like to celebrate the following individuals:
Gerber baby of the year
According to USA Today, Lucas Warren, a 1-year-old baby with Down syndrome from Dalton, Georgia, was chosen as the winner of the 2018 Gerber Spokesbaby contest. Not only was he chosen from 140,000 contestants, but he was the first child living with Down syndrome to win the award since the contest began. It was his winning smile and joyful expression that won the judges over, according to Bill Partyka, president and CEO of Gerber.
"Lucas' winning smile and joyful expression won the judges over."
Lucas' mother, Cortney Warren, said she hopes Lucas winning the contest will have a postitive impact on the world, one step – or crawl – at a time.
"We hope this opportunity sheds light on the special needs community and educates people that with acceptance and support, individuals with special needs have the potential to change the world — just like our Lucas," she said.
Actress lands lead role in 'Amy and the Orphans'
After landing her groundbreaking role in "American Horror Story," actress Jamie Brewer had no intentions of stopping her acting career anytime soon. In fact, she recently took on a larger, more high-profile role in theater, being cast as the lead of "Amy and the Orphans," a play that centered on a character with Down syndrome. According to The New York Times, Brewer and her understudy Edward Barbanell are thought to be the only known pair of performers with Down syndrome to play lead roles in a Broadway or Off Broadway production.
Lindsey Ferrentino, the playwright behind "Amy and the Orphans," made sure the right person was cast for the lead role from the beginning by leaving notes in the early script drafts such as: Finding a talented actor with Down syndrome isn't difficult. So please do it.
As World Down Syndrome Day approaches, learn how you can contribute through various fundraising opportunities.