GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed Tuesday as Down Syndrome Awareness Day, aligning with World Down Syndrome Day.
Down syndrome is a condition in which a person has an extra chromosome. The extra chromosome alters the course of development, leading to physical and developmental challenges.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 6,000 babies in the U.S. are born with the condition each year.
Organizations like the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan provides support to people with down syndrome and their families.
Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan Executive Director Katie Hollis said the proclamation was an important step forward.
“With that acknowledgement at the state level brings more advocacy. It’s a celebration of all the accomplishments that our individuals bring to the community and society and their schools, and if we can advocate for them more then hopefully we can get other bills passed,” Hollis said.
“They’re people just like you and me,” she said. “They may look a little different, talk a little bit slower, but they still have hopes and dreams and want to go out and get married, drive a car, live independently and celebrate all the small victories in life. So if you see somebody on the street that looks a little bit different than you, don’t be afraid to say, ‘Hello.'”
According to the governor’s office, 250,000 people in the U.S. live with Down syndrome.