Celebrating World Down Syndrome Day in the European Parliament

Responsibility and a good team are the most important requirements once you have to work on a project. These were, without any doubt, included into the requirements of the Down syndrome campaign that was organized by the World Youth Alliance Europe. I have something more to add to these requirements, something that I discovered myself while working on this campaign.

From the very beginning of my internship, I have been entrusted with a serious project to support people with Down syndrome. Before I even started to cope with the tasks, I decided to understand what it means to have Down syndrome. I watched videos and documentaries about the life of people with Down syndrome. Having done this I have made myself closer to the matter of my project.

I was a person who never came across anyone with Down syndrome and who never thought about the difficulties their lives were filled with. At that point, I felt sad because I never took an insight into that issue and never did anything to change their life. However, a bit after, I felt full of optimism and I had a huge wish to do my best while working on this project.

Immense work was waiting ahead in the preparations for the #Sockbattle4DS campaign and ‘Meet your MEP’ campaign. The greatest challenge was to contact the Members of the European Parliament as soon as we aimed to contact all of them. At that moment, good teamwork skills supported our initiation.

We were constantly sending emails and doing hundreds of phone calls. We all well understood what it takes to reach out to MEPs taking into account their busy schedules. Notwithstanding negative or positive answers to our requests, we always remained optimistic and reached good results in the social media campaign in support of people with Down syndrome.

More than fifty members of the European Parliament were spotted wearing mismatched socks as part of a campaign for celebrating World Down Syndrome Day. To show their support, members of the European Parliament had to post a picture or video of themselves wearing mismatched socks and nominate other influential people to join the socks battle.

I decided to support the WDSD campaign because I nurture exceptional preciousness towards people with Down Syndrome.”, said Ruža Tomašić, an MEP from Croatia. “I gladly accepted to mismatch my socks for this beautiful campaign. The hope is to change the public opinion to create a global movement that supports the inclusion, rights, and social well-being for persons with Down syndrome,” said MEP Luigi Morgano from Italy.

The ‘Meet your MEP’ campaign, which was held on March 21 at the European Parliament, gained an absolute success. This day was overwhelmed with bright emotions. MEPs were actively participating and communicating with people with Down syndrome and their families. It was nice to observe Down syndrome people and their families being paid due attention at the European Parliament.

On this day, persons with Down syndrome were given the chance to experience life in the Parliament as an MEP hosted them, interacted with, and prepare activities for them. Afterward, the conference “Are we doing our best for the health of people with trisomy 21?” on the latest developments in research on Down syndrome was held, hosted by MEPs Marek Jurek and Miroslav Mikolasik.

An absolute discovery for me was our playroom and how we interacted with adults and children. After this experience, I can say that their wellbeing and health improvement depends upon us. People with Down syndrome can breathtakingly dance, can play football, support a discussion and they are interested in geography. I have a final question to all of you: ‘Do these people still differ a lot from us?’ The answer is obvious – ‘No’.

These kinds of projects differ from other projects. The difference is in the fact that one needs a flexibility drive. This means that you have to be ready to change your ideas and prejudices towards a certain subject, change your views and then you will be able to change the people around you.

The celebration of the World Down Syndrome Day was a wonderful campaign. It was hard to organize but so funny and beautiful to implement, a great example of the celebration of Solidarity and Human Dignity.

Written by Albina Iavdokymova WYA Europe intern.