World Down Syndrome Day” is observed and celebrated each year on March 21, a now annual occasion to educate the world on the beauty and uniqueness of those with the condition, as well as highlight the extraordinary value they bring to our communities.

March 21 was selected because it’s the 21st day of the third month, representing the third (and extra) copy of the 21st chromosome that causes Down syndrome.

The theme this year is “End the Stereotypes.”

Tragically, false stereotypes have led to astronomically high abortion rates for preborn babies who receive a diagnosis.

In fact, data suggests that in the U.S., pregnancies with a Down syndrome diagnosis will end in an abortion 60% – 90% of the time. It’s even worse in Iceland and Denmark, where 97% of preborn babies are Down’s being aborted.

Organizers of this year’s international effort say that children and adults with an extra chromosome are often underestimated and excluded because of incorrect stereotypes.

For example, many people seem to assume people with Down’s lack special gifting or are incapable of developing and cultivating an individual identity and interests. They often falsely believe they’re not as smart or sharp. It’s just not true.

CoorDown, an Italian non-profit organization established to raise awareness about the potential of people with Down syndrome, recently released a new ad campaign video that has gone viral.

The campaign is called “Assume That I Can” and it challenges the stereotypes pushed on people with the condition.

It’s based on the idea that assumptions become reality. If we assume less of people with disabilities and fail to educate them or give them the opportunity they need to grow, then their failure to do so will be a self-fulling prophecy.

The viral video portrays several scenes that stereotype a person with Down’s as being unable to do something, including the following situations:

Parents, you assume that I cannot live on my own. So, you don’t encourage me to live on my own. So, I don’t live on my own.

Coach, you assume that I cannot hit harder. So, you don’t train me to hit harder. So, I don’t hit harder.

And teacher, you assume that I cannot learn Shakespeare. So, you don’t teach me Shakespeare. So, I don’t learn Shakespeare

The ad continues,

But if assumptions become reality, assume I can.

And the ad ends with the words,

Assume that I can so maybe I will.

According to PR Week, since its release less than a week ago, it has been viewed 4.1 million times on TikTok and 5 million times on Instagram.

The positive impact the ad has had on viewers since its release is undeniable.

Some of the YouTube comments include:

“The best campaign I’ve seen in a longggg time. So powerful!! Beautifully executed.”

“I have Down syndrome and this is very inspiring to me.”

“This is the campaign we need! EXCELLENT!”

“Wonderful, powerful, transformational video. Needs to be shared far and wide. Well done!!”

“Bloooooown away. What a campaign.”

“Love this! My daughter has Down syndrome and I know she can do anything!”

Since releasing the viral ad, CoorDown has followed it up with shorter videos of individuals with Down syndrome rising above the low expectations of Down syndrome stereotypes, including:

Sofia Sanches giving a TedTalk.

Kit Conner receiving an Emmy.

Annika Van Vliet modeling in Paris Fashion Week.

The popular campaign has featured many other individuals with Down syndrome rising above the stereotypes such as going to college, being in a relationship, learning to ski, becoming athletes, writing books, playing instruments and representing organizations as spokespeople.

It’s our hope and prayer this campaign will help dispel some of the more dangerous and deadly myths being perpetuated and promoted.

Individuals with Down syndrome are a gift to their families and a blessing to those whose paths they cross.

Related articles and resources:

Parenting a Child with Down Syndrome

Shining a Positive Light on Down Syndrome

Why Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day?

Focus on the Family: Down Syndrome


Image credit: CoorDown’s YouTube