Nhlatho Speak Out Against Stereotypes On Down Syndrome

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In a display of solidarity against discrimination on people with down syndrome, close to 800 individuals, including teachers and students, gathered at Moremi III Primary School this Thursday to signify a bold call to action, seeking to shatter stereotypes and promote inclusivity.

Tebogo Nhlatho, the coordinator of the Down Syndrome Association of Botswana (DSAB) in Maun, shared insights during an interview, highlighting the World Syndrome Day’s theme, “End the Stereotypes.” Nhlatho emphasised that combating stereotypes is crucial in fostering a more inclusive society.

Nhlatho emphasised, “The stereotypes surrounding individuals with down syndrome have led to discrimination and stifled their ability to speak out. There’s a misconception that they are unable to think or communicate for themselves, which is completely unfounded.”

She elaborated that people need to be educated more about down syndrome to shatter such misconceptions and instead urged the community to recognise the capabilities of such individuals, emphasising their right to share experiences, make mistakes, and grow like everyone else.

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that occurs when an individual has an extra copy, either full or partial, of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material results in developmental changes and physical features characteristic of the condition. People with down syndrome may experience a range of intellectual and developmental disabilities, from mild to moderate, and they often have distinct facial features and physical growth delays.

World Down Syndrome Day, observed globally since 2012 on March 21st, holds significance with its date symbolising the triplication of the 21st chromosome, the root cause of down syndrome. This year’s theme, “End The Stereotypes,” underscores the need to challenge misconceptions and promote understanding.

The campaign encouraged participation in initiatives such as the “lots of socks,” where people wore mismatched socks to spark conversations about down syndrome. Beyond symbolism, the day serves as a platform to advocate for access to healthcare, early intervention programs, inclusive education, and research to support the well-being of individuals with down syndrome.

Nhlatho concluded by calling on society to embrace diversity and recognize the humanity of individuals with Down syndrome, urging everyone to open their hearts to acceptance and inclusion. As the community came together to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day, it sent a powerful message of solidarity and support for a more inclusive world.

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