What does it take to have a friend?
I don’t mean having friends in the sense of gaining popularity among your peers. I mean taking the risks to find a true friend.
The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) faces this question every day. Through a series of advocacy events and agendas which promote inclusion and acceptance, NDSS provides services, opportunities, and help for the over 400,000 Americans with Down Syndrome.
Sarah Schleider of NDSS explains that “NDSS is the first national organization to design and distribute a national public awareness campaign for people with Down Syndrome across the U.S. garnering exposure in national and local media. The campaign, My Great Story, was launched in September 2009 and to date has attracted over 150 million viewers.”
Participants in the “My Great Story” campaign. like Sara Wolff and Sujeet Desai, tell unique stories about their passions of public speaking and travelling around the world. The stories highlight the accomplishments and life goals of individuals with Down Syndrome, and the campaign aims to “gather the stories of the 400,000 Americans with Down syndrome in our online storybook” to help advocate and promote the inclusion of those affiliated with NDSS.
While the online storybook has created a new interactive community of people living with Down Syndrome, NDSS is constantly advancing its education, policy, healthcare, and scientific research plans.
For the past 15 years, NDSS and its 300 affiliates around the country have worked with local organizations and individuals to facilitate the annual “Buddy Walk.”
The one mile “Buddy Walk” has grown from 17 walks in October 1995 to over 280 walks in October 2009. Millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of walkers later, the “Buddy Walk” continues to be a central part of NDSS’ success.
Framing the concept of the “Buddy Walk” around the accomplishments and capabilities of its participants ensures that every individual does indeed have a place among their peers.
Not only a place, but a community. A community of buddies.
Thanks Sarah (and Jordana) for sharing NDSS’ Great Story!
Please visit ndss.org for more information.
(The National Down Syndrome Society is improving the quality of life for people with Down Syndrome by ensuring that they are valued members of society.)