Down Syndrome International have shared the 2023 World Down Syndrome Day theme and are calling for a commitment to…

With Us Not For Us

The message of With Us Not For Us is fundamental to a human rights-based approach to disability.

We need to move on from outdated charity models of disability, where people with disabilities were viewed as needing charities to do everything for them.

A human rights-based approach views people with disabilities as rights-holders who have the right to be involved in decisions about their lives, working in partnership with others to improve their lives.

The Big Connect 2023

The Big Connect is back was held on Tuesday, 21st March 2023 to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day 2023.

This year’s World Down Syndrome Day theme was“With us not for us” which has been defined by Down syndrome International as “a human rights-based approach that views people with disabilities as having the right to be treated fairly and have the same opportunities as everyone else, working WITH others to improve their lives.”

The Big Connect was a great way to celebrate our community, discuss these topics further and ensured everyone was together to celebrate World Down syndrome Day.

See video from The Big Connect below!

Media Release – Celebrate with the Kiwi Down syndrome community this World Down Syndrome  Day 

World Down Syndrome Day 2023 is nearly here. Every year, the international Down syndrome  community celebrates those who rock a third 21st chromosome on the 21st day of the third month.  Down Syndrome International and the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association are calling for  people and organisations around the world to embrace this year’s theme of With Us Not For Us. 

What does this mean? 

To be treated fairly and to have the same opportunities as others. 

To have the freedom, and the support, to make our own choices. 

To be involved in the work of organisations. 

For the organisations that represent us to be included in decision-making. 

Across Aotearoa, local organisations will be celebrating the day with events such as the picnic events  in Auckland and the Wairarapa, Tee 21 in Hastings (also supporting flood relief in the area), and  dozens of ‘Rock Your Socks’ celebrations across the motu. 

The New Zealand Down Syndrome Association will also be bringing back their mega-online  community event, The Big Connect, which originally began as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, but  has proved so popular that they have continued the tradition ever since.  

On the day itself, Tuesday 21 March, National Executive Officer, Zandra Vaccarino will host an  incredible line-up of experts, including Paula Tesoriero (CEO, Ministry Whaikaha), Hon Prianka  Radhakrishnan (Minister for Disability Issues), Bridget Sneddon (President, Down Syndrome  International), Carlos Biggemann (international photographer, Down for Love), Luka Willems  (international athlete) and many others.  

Vaccarino says that by signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), New Zealand has obligations to uphold the intent of the Convention, but this has not  translated into a true reflection of the ‘With Us Not For Us’ ethos. 

This year the global network is speaking up for the rights of people with Down syndrome to make  their own decisions. Unfortunately, not all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to  make decisions for themselves some people with Down syndrome are denied legal capacity, or they  might lack the proper support to make decisions, or they could have poor or controlling support  around them or their supporters do things For them, not With them. 

That is why the theme of this year’s World Down Syndrome Day is “With us not for us” which has  been defined by Down Syndrome International as “a human rights-based approach that views  people with disabilities as having the right to be treated fairly and have the same opportunities as  everyone else, working WITH others to improve their lives.” 

In a world increasingly focused on inclusion, there are still those who roll out ridiculous excuses not  to be inclusive. On World Down Syndrome Day, March 21 2023, CoorDown – the organisation  responsible for viral hits such as ‘The Hiring Chain’, is launching the international awareness  campaign “RIDICULOUS EXCUSES NOT TO BE INCLUSIVE,” to affirm the right to full participation in 

society and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities, free from all forms of discrimination and  ableism. 

Over the past few months, with the help of associations from all over the world – including the New  Zealand Down Syndrome Association – CoorDown has been asking people who have Down  syndrome, and their families, what excuses they have heard for being excluded from education,  sports, jobs, and other opportunities. 

The film “Ridiculous Excuses” is available on CoorDown’s TikTok channel on launch day and then  spread across all the organization’s platforms. The campaign is a collaboration with agency SMALL  New York and was produced by Indiana Production and Tinygiant and directed by Stoney Sharp.  Music was composed and produced by Stabbiolo Music. 

This year’s international campaign was again produced with contributions from several international  associations including New Zealand Down Syndrome Association, Down Syndrome Australia, Down’s  Syndrome Association (UK), Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Best Buddies International,  National Down Syndrome Society, Karachi Down Syndrome Program and under the patronage of DSi  – Down Syndrome International. 

The official hashtags of the campaign #RidiculousExcuses #WorldDownSyndromeDay #WDSD23. 

Antonella Falugiani, President of CoorDown ODV says, “With this global campaign we touch on an  issue that concerns each of us: naming and making visible a phenomenon that people with Down  syndrome and their parents, brothers, sisters and caregivers experience on a daily basis. They may  seem like small events, but in reality, they are real discriminations often done with a smile of  circumstance or unawareness that nevertheless mark the lives and hearts of those who suffer  them.” 

This 21st March, join the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association and support the more than 4,000  Kiwis who have Down syndrome by rocking odd socks, going along to a local event, and by joining  the Big Connect. Let’s have the important conversations about how we can uphold the rights of  people with Down syndrome to make their own decisions.