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March 21 is celebrated as World Down Syndrome Day. During the month, the United Nations held two events focused on public awareness of Down syndrome. The following is a quote from a March 15th event:

“I have been asked to tell you how to improve the lives of people with Down syndrome. The key is right there in my opening paragraph. It begins with “I am a man.” See me as a human being, not a birth defect, not a syndrome. I don’t need to be eradicated. I don’t need to be cured. I need to be loved, valued, educated and, sometimes, helped.”

The quote is from a speech given by John Franklin Stephens at a forum in Geneva, Switzerland. {Read the full text here]

At UN Headquarters in New York an international conference was held on the 21st. The Conference has a theme each year, and the aim is to advance the human rights of persons with disabilities in accord with the UN Convention on those rights. This year the theme was “What I Bring to the Workplace.”

Speakers at the conference came from countries around the world with a focus on employment stakeholders. The speakers included professionals, advocates and self-advocates. Among the attendees were people with Down syndrome, their supporters and advocates, senior representatives of major employers, experts in the field of disability employment, government and UN officials.

The UN stated what it hoped to achieve as follows: “Our aim was to reach out to key employment stakeholders to ensure they see the benefits of enabling people with Down syndrome and disabilities to make meaningful contributions in the workplace; then encourage these stakeholders to help us bring about positive change.”

The Mayor’s Committee is delighted to see the focus on employment at these international awareness events and similar local events. There are thousands in Santa Clarita Valley who can testify to the benefits of employing people with Down syndrome, and there are thousands of individuals with Down syndrome enjoying their jobs and bringing great benefit to our lives.

Businesses that would like to know more about employment of individuals with disabilities are encouraged to contact the SCV Mayor’s Committee Chair, Ken Wiseman at kwiseman@amsfulfillment.com.