Canadian Down Syndrome Week is an opportunity for everyone to celebrate the contributions people with Down syndrome make in our community.

Advocates say it is important to recognize everything people with Down syndrome are able to do in their lives. For the Greater Victoria Down Syndrome Society (GVDSS) the awareness week is an opportunity to highlight the strengths of people with Down syndrome.

“From children who are attending their local community school to adults who are working and have meaningful jobs,” said GVDSS co-president Erin Mazzoni. “They are living out their dreams because they have dreams like everyone else.”

The Canadian Down Syndrome Society established the awareness week to run every year from Nov. 1 to 7. The society asks Canadians to “see the ability” of people in our communities who have Down syndrome.

Advocates with GVDSS say that by recognizing what people with Down syndrome can do, rather than their perceived limitations, they can make positive contributions in their communities.

Mazzoni says when people see the abilities of people with Down syndrome there will be more opportunities for them to be included in all aspects of society.

“People with Down syndrome really want to be with their peers, whether that’s children or adults, they really want to be part of the group,” said Mazzoni. “They want to be recognized that they have skills and they can be a really positive addition to any group.”

As a parent of a child with Down syndrome, Mazzoni says she doesn’t know the depth of how he positively affects the people around him. She says she has seen that her son leaves a bigger mark on people in her community than she is aware of.

“I know in our own neighbourhood of Oak Bay he has made a big difference,” said Mazzoni. “I often hear people in the community tell me how awesome he is.”

The Canadian Down Syndrome Society hopes that by raising our awareness of people with Down syndrome in our communities, they will be valued as fully participating citizens.

For information on Down syndrome visit the Greater Victoria Down Syndrome Society website