Celebrating Ability: Investing in and accompanying children and adults with Down syndrome and their families

On Thursday, March 21, 2024 at 1:15—2:30 PM

Thursday, March 21, 2024
1:15-2:30 PM
UNHQ New York, CR 6

Click here for UN Webcast Link.

UN pass required to attend. Please RSVP by March 18th here.

The General Assembly declared 21 March as World Down Syndrome Day (A/RES/66/149). “In  order to raise public awareness of Down syndrome, the General Assembly invites all Member States,  relevant organizations of the United Nations system and other international organizations, as well as civil  society, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, to observe World Down  Syndrome Day.” This event will bring together persons with Down syndrome and other Down syndrome advocates to highlight the social support that persons with Down syndrome need to thrive and contribute  to society.

Knowing and living with a person with Down syndrome is life changing for those who have this  privilege. Contrary to widespread misconceptions about persons with disabilities, persons with Down  syndrome contribute to their families and society at large. While there is growing awareness of the inherent  dignity of persons with Down syndrome, there is still much to be done for a greater understanding of their  contribution to societies in every sphere of life, be it spiritually, socially, or economically, especially when  they are afforded the social protection they need. A culture of social neglect, eugenic abortion, sub-standard  social policies and lack of protection impedes and global acceptance for persons with Down syndrome.

Support and social protection for mothers and families to welcome and care for children with Down  syndrome are often insufficient, even though international law enshrines special protections for  motherhood and the family. Pregnant women who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome for their children often receive incomplete and imbalanced information regarding their children’s potential and  their own ability to parent a child with special needs. Social policies to help persons with Down syndrome develop and achieve their full potential are necessary and badly needed, both due to lack of resources and  disability discrimination.

People with Down syndrome may require specialized health care for conditions that can occur in  connection with Down syndrome. They need social integration, education, and job opportunities. Above  all, society more broadly, needs to be sensitized to the great gift that persons with Down syndrome are to  their mothers, families and society. This event will address gaps and challenges in ensuring an inclusive  and welcoming society for all those with Down syndrome.


H.E. Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to  the United Nations 

Patricia and Isabella Hass, Parent Advocate and Ambassador, Hearts of Joy International, Self-Advocate

Mark Bradford, Fellow, Word on Fire Institute, and founding president, Jerome Lejeune Foundation USA 

Brian Skotko, M.D., M.P.P, Emma Campbell Endowed Chair on Down Syndrome, Massachusetts General Hospital 

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, U.S. House of Representatives, member of the Congressional  Down Syndrome Caucus and mother of a child with Down syndrome (Invited)  

Lauren Costabile, founder, Hearts of Joy International 

Frank Stephens, Global Down Syndrome Foundation Board Member, Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Awardee, Public Speaker, and Self-Advocate


Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations
Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam)


Lisa Correnti, Executive Vice President, Center for Family and Human Rights