I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for people with Down syndrome. My love stems from my high school days. I attended a school that has a very special wing devoted to kids with disabilities and that is where I met my first friends with Down syndrome.

I’ve always believed that people with Down syndrome shouldn’t be viewed any differently than those without. What so many people can't seem to wrap their head around is that people with Down syndrome can usually understand way more than they’re able to express verbally and they definitely have the same needs and wants as everybody else does in life, it's just that reaching certain goals in life are harder for some than it is for others.

According to the National Down Syndrome Society, one in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome, and there are more than 400,000 people with Down syndrome living in the United States.

World Down Syndrome Day is a  global awareness day which has been officially observed on the 21st of March since 2012. Each year on March 21st, the voice of people with Down syndrome, and those who live, work with, and support them grows louder and louder, but there's still so much more we can do to educate the world about people who have Down syndrome.

Sadly, there are many myths that surround Down syndrome and I think that it's time to break down those stereotypes. For instance, a lot of people think that most people with Down syndrome are institutionalized or need to be institutionalized. Come on, that's just ridiculous and so wrong. People with Down syndrome are integrated into the regular education system and are able to take part in sports, camping, music, art programs and all the other activities that others are able to take part in.

As World Down Syndrome Day approaches, do your part. Get informed and then inform those you know so that we can break down the stereotyped walls.

[via National Down Syndrome Society/World Down Syndrome Day]