“I can’t believe I’m doing this!” The words burst unbidden from my mouth when I spotted my mode of transport to Anguilla from St Maarten on September 23.
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Lots of Socks For Down Syndrome Awareness
If on March 21 you see people wearing boldly coloured, mismatched socks, fear not, they haven’t gone completely nuts. They’re just taking part in the #Lotsofsocks campaign which seeks to heighten awareness about the gene disorder, Down syndrome.
World Down Syndrome Day is on March 21. The day, which is officially ratified by the United Nations, is designed to allow people around the globe to create a single voice for advocating for the rights, inclusion, and well-being of people with Down syndrome.
The #Lotsofsocks campaign is an initiative of Down Syndrome International, a global network active in 133 countries. According to the organisation’s website, “When someone asks you about your socks, use that as an opportunity to spread awareness about Down syndrome.” People are also encouraged to post photos of themselves wearing their funky socks on social media sites using the hashtag #Lotsofsocks.
Down Syndrome Day activities in T&T are being coordinated by the Down Syndrome Family Network (DSFN). DSFN was founded six years ago by its chairman Glen Niles, the father of an 18-year-old son with Down Syndrome. Niles told the T&T Guardian in a 2014 interview that Tyrese’s birth, originally experienced as a tragedy, instead turned out to be the motivation for the formation of DSFN. The NGO has been a major support and source of education for helping parents and the public to dismiss the common misperceptions about the potential of children with Down syndrome.
In a telephone interview, DFSN chairman of events and sponsorship, Lisa Ghany, said this is the sixth year that DSFN is doing the #Lotsofsocks campaign. She explained that the campaign is used globally as an opportunity to raise funds.
“If an office is doing it, they can get people involved and do a presentation to the staff about the campaign, creating awareness for Down syndrome and perhaps collect a contribution from the staff to give to an organisation in that particular country that represents the Down syndrome community,” Ghany said.
On World Down Syndrome Day, DSFN will host its annual conference at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain. Musician Sujeet Desai, who was born with Down Syndrome, will deliver the feature address.
Desai graduated with honours from Fayetteville-Manlius High School in Syracuse, New York. In May 2003, he graduated from the Berkshire Hills Music Academy in South Hadley, Massachusetts.
Look out for a full profile on Desai on Monday in the T&T Guardian.
For more information visit www.dsfamilynetwork.org