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Western New York celebrates World Down Syndrome Day

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Posted at 5:33 PM, Mar 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-21 20:17:29-04

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — March 21st is World Down syndrome day which is a celebration to raise awareness about those living with Down syndrome.

"People with Down syndrome have three copies of the 21st chromosome so March is the 3rd month of the year and 21st is the day that we celebrate," Emily Mondschein, executive director of Gigi's Playhouse, said.

The day is held in honor of the the uniqueness of the triplication of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome. It also aims to change the stigma surrounding those living with Down syndrome.

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"When I received my pre-natal diagnosis I was 14 weeks pregnant. My OBGYN told me all that my son wouldn't do. I was shocked to see the stigma and the bias that exists for people with Downs syndrome," Mondschein said, "I realized how wrong she was, and how we have to do everything we can to change this perception."

"Our lives are so much better just having him in it. People with disabilities bring so much to the world," Amy Monson, co-founder of the Down Syndrome Parents Group of Western New York, said.

This year, celebrations were different. The Down Syndrome Parents Group of Western New York has gathered for a spaghetti dinner together in years past.

"We've got about 450 families in the Down syndrome parents group. We couldn't get together, so instead we did the drive through chicken BBQ so people can take their dinners home and celebrate with their families at home. We hope to get together next year," Monson said.

Gigi's Playhouse hosted a limited-capacity tailgate with music and food.

"We had to keep things within the capacity for the COVID guidelines. We had to turn away families we had so many wanting to come out. Hopefully next year we're just going to flood the parking lot," Mondschein said.

No matter how the celebration is underway, World Down Syndrome Day aims to share all the good those living with Down syndrome bring into the world each day.

"I think everyone should have that attitude. It's so refreshing to be around someone who is so positive and joyful," Monson said.