Celebrating World Down Syndrome Day on 3/21

By Jill Sperling
March 21, 2017 - 12:00pm Updated: March 21, 2017 - 5:50pm

KAMLOOPS — March 21 marks World Down Syndrome Day, which raises public awareness about what Down Syndrome is, as well as the joys and challenges of living with it. 

Dave Ralph is the president of the Thompson Nicola Ups and Downs Society's board of directors. He is also the father of a young man with Down Syndrome. 

Ralph says while there are some challenges associated with raising a child with special needs there are far more opportunities available for people living with Down Syndrome than there used to be.

Ralph's son, Clayton, attends computer and skills classes at Thompson Rivers University. 

"I think that people with Down Syndrome are much more a part of the community, there's more inclusion, as with a lot of the other disabilities that people have in our community and in our province," Dave Ralph said. "I know when I was younger Down Syndrome folks were more-or-less segregated and they really didn't interact with the community."

The Thompson Nicola Ups and Downs Society celebrated World Down Syndrome Day with a dinner at Red Robin on Sunday, but Ralph says there are still plenty of ways to celebrate with the Down Syndrome community. 

People were encouraged to dance for three minutes and 21 seconds, or wear bright, crazy socks. 

"The idea is for people to ask you why you are wearing different kinds of socks, and that gives you the opportunity to explain to them what today is, being Down Syndrome Day, and also explain to them about people and families that deal with Down Syndrome."

Students spending part of spring break training with the RCMP