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World Down Syndrome Day: “Ridiculous Excuses not to Be Inclusive.”

Today is World Down Syndrome Day.

Today is 21/3, and there is an apparent reference to Trisomy 21, which characterizes Down syndrome. A necessary World Day, also officially recognized by the UN, aims to encourage the spreading of a culture of diversity based on the solid principles of respect and inclusion, not yet sufficiently rooted in our society.

This year the theme of World Down Syndrome Day is “With Us Not For Us

Why is it Important to Celebrate This Day?

World Down Syndrome Day is a pivotal event to increase awareness of Down Syndrome among individuals and create an inclusive culture capable of actively involving people with disabilities. Indeed, society often fails to show itself capable of providing equal opportunities and treating those with Down syndrome equally.

Hence the theme of the “With Us Not For Us” campaign is to encourage a system that genuinely includes people with disabilities in the decision-making processes of national and international institutions, guaranteeing the exercise of freedom and the possibility of having representation.

CoorDown Launches “Ridiculous Excuses Not to Be Inclusive”

In an increasingly inclusive world, some still use ridiculous excuses for not being inclusive.

So CoorDown, National Coordination of Associations of People with Down Syndrome, has launched an awareness campaign sharing stories of everyday life in which people with Down syndrome are discriminated against with ridiculous justifications.

Children, girls, boys, men, women, and their families are the protagonists of the videos that have gone viral on TikTok with “Ridiculous Excuses Not to Be Inclusive.” An awareness campaign to affirm the right to inclusion and participation in social life, fighting discrimination and ableism.

Videos in which bitterness is disguised as comedy and recounts incredibly ridiculous scenes where youngstudents are excluded from school trips, sports activities, and summer camps, but some adults are excluded from the world of work and social life. Thought-provoking episodes of everyday ableism, where the freedom to participate is denied through excuses such as “It’s not your fault; we’re the ones who are not prepared to take you on the field trip!”, “We already have a little girl like you in the group,” “We don’t have enough chairs to invite you to the meeting,” “We closed registration just ten minutes ago!”

But there are no acceptable excuses for not being inclusive.

“With this global campaign, we are touching 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 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. The time has come to break down this wall and expose the false ‘good intentions’ of those who, out of laziness or lack of understanding, still exclude people with intellectual disabilities.”

ANTONELLA FALUGIANI, PRESIDENT OF COORDOWN ODV

What Do We Find on Coordown’s TikTok Channel?

Lots of testimonials from all over the world of people with Down syndrome and their families, breaking down all communication barriers through the social of the moment that gathers more than one billion monthly users. A campaign designed in the smallest detail, where a highly catchy jingle and a colorful and fun sticker immediately capture the community’s attention.

Stories in which, behind smiles and seemingly kind words, lies a raw truth that is often forgotten: that of discrimination and ableism against people with disabilities who suffer systematic disadvantages in all forms, suffering in all areas of personal and professional life.

“We have often experienced how the creators of our community, thanks to their originality, manage to overcome linguistic, cultural, and social barriers, creating awareness and stances on issues that are taboo, niche, or not particularly “cool.” Their success demonstrates how authenticity can be a great vehicle for awareness campaigns: a global megaphone and a catalyst for engaging and making millions of people think about socially vital issues. All from stories of “extraordinary” everyday life.

GIACOMO LEV MANNHEIMER, HEAD OF INSTITUTIONAL RELATIONS SOUTH EUROPE AT TIKTOK


What is Ableism?

A term that defines a devaluing and discriminatory attitude shaped by incorrect codes and ideas that unknowingly populate the minds of our social network, creating an invisible and insidious mechanism where people with Down syndrome and other disabilities and neurodiversity suffer discrimination.

Therefore, the solution is to spread awareness and knowledge, initiating a cultural change that is necessary throughout society and used to combat injustices toward all minorities and disadvantaged social groups.

According to a Eurobarometer survey, 9% of Italians say that if the President of the Republic had a disability, they would feel uncomfortable. In contrast, 6 percent of respondents would find it challenging to interact daily with a colleague/colleague with a disability. Higher percentages than the European average that classify the presence of a disability as a not insignificant discriminator in any area of daily life.

Today we can change this and launch messages of inclusion and respect through videos, images, and words that can go viral thanks to social media. These campaigns, capable of overcoming all communication barriers, must be joined by the support of bodies, institutions, and critical actors to promote effective cultural changes systemically.

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