World Down Syndrome Day was commemorated last March, declared as such by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly since December 2011. The objective of the date is to “generate greater public awareness of the issue and remember the inherent dignity; that is, the value and valuable contributions of people with intellectual disabilities as promoters of the well-being and diversity of their communities. Likewise, it wants to highlight the importance of their autonomy and individual independence, in particular the freedom to make their own decisions”, quotes the official UN website.
In Costa Rica, the symbol and message of the commemoration is to wear different socks. An initiative that since 2018 has been developed by the ‘YoPuedo ¿Y Vos?’ foundation, which was born in 2013, “in order to promote, finance and promote the educational and labor inclusion of people with Down Syndrome”.
I wear them different because we are the same people
‘We wear them differently because we are the same people’ is the slogan of the campaign. The foundation sells the socks, which are designed by members of the supporting population. The initiative is joined by public and private educational centers, as well as companies.
They are example to others
The faces of this campaign, and those who call for more opportunities, are from the population with Down Syndrome in Costa Rica, who become an example of success. They adapt to the schedules, work rhythm and coexistence with their colleagues, without problem, in the companies that host them.
For example, José Segura; he celebrates 4 years of working for Coca Cola Femsa, where he types and files. “I like to work”, he says in a video shared to this medium by the foundation.
For her part, Margot Hidalgo celebrates 5 years of working for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). She manages the vacation registration of her classmates, also the recycling and is in charge of organizing birthday celebrations, among other tasks.
The population with Down Syndrome is characterized by its good relations with others. It is an experience in which both they and the organizations win, as highlighted by their mentors.
Having more chances
In an interview, Johana Castro, executive director of the foundation, clarifies that they support everyone with a disability, because they cannot be exclusive. In the first 5 years of work, they managed to place 100 people in the labor field. After launching the campaign, there are already 3,000 jobs adapted for people with disabilities.
Of this total, about 50 people with Down Syndrome are located in the labor field. “What it reflects is that there are more opportunities, but for that we have trained more than 850,000 people without disabilities; because it is you or us, the ones who do not have a disability, who give the opportunities”, she adds.
For the director, the State does not have a detailed record on this population, but it does have a good, solid legal framework. Despite the advances in recent years, it is necessary for society to continue opening its doors and assuming the commitment.
Down syndrome according to the United Nations
This syndrome is a genetic alteration caused by the existence of extra genetic material on chromosome 21, which translates into a certain degree of intellectual disability. The estimated incidence of Down syndrome worldwide is between 1 in 1,000 and 1 in 1,100 newborns.
In general, people with Down syndrome tend to have more health problems. However, social and medical advances have managed to improve the quality of life of people with the syndrome. In the early 20th century, those affected were expected to live less than 10 years; now, about 80% of adults who suffer from it are over the age of 50.
Medical and parental work at an early age favors the quality of life and health of those who suffer from this genetic disorder by meeting their health needs. This includes regular checkups to monitor their physical and mental development, as well as timely intervention, be it physiotherapy, inclusive special education or other community-based support systems.