Happy Anniversary National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Reagan DS Awareness Month

October was proclaimed National Down Syndrome Month in 1984. How do you plan to celebrate this anniversary?

Describing the picture above, from the Centre County Down Syndrome Society:

On September 28, 1984, thirty years ago this month, President Ronald Reagan signed a resolution proclaiming October 1984 as National Down Syndrome Month. In attendance at the resolution’s signing in the Oval Office that day, were (left to right) Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana (who introduced the resolution in the Senate); Madeleine Will, Assistant Secretary of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services; George Will, parent; NDSC Executive Director, Diane Crutcher; and Tom O’Neill, President of the NDSC.

Here’s the actual language of that original resolution:

PUBLIC LAW 98-437—SEPT. 28, 1984                            98 STAT. 1683

Public Law 98-437
98th Congress
                          Joint Resolution
To designate the month of October 1984 as "National Down's Syndrome Month".   Sept. 28, 1984
                                                                              [S.J. Res. 254]
Whereas the past decade has brought a greater and more enhght-
 ened attitude in the care and training of the developmentally
Whereas one such condition which has undergone considerable
 reevaluation is that of Down's syndrome—a problem which, just a
 short time ago, was often stigmatized as a mentally retarded
 condition which relegated its victims to lives of passivity in insti-
 tutions and back rooms;
Whereas, through the efforts of concerned physicians, teachers and
 parent groups such as the National Down's Syndrome Congress,
 programs are being put in place to educate new parents of babies
 with Down's syndrome; to develop special education classes within
 mainstreamed programs in schools; the provision for vocational
 training in preparation for competitive employment in the work
 force and to prepare young adults with Down's syndrome for
 independent living in the community;
Whereas the cost of such services designed to help individuals with
 Down's syndrome move into their rightful place in our society is
 but a tiny fraction of the cost of institutionalization;
Whereas along with this improvement in educational opportunities
 for those with Down's syndrome is the advancement in medical
 science which is adding to a more brightened outlook for individ-
 uals born with this chromosomal configuration; and
Whereas public awareness and acceptance of the capabilities of
 children with Down's syndrome can greatly facilitate their being
 mainstreamed in our society: Now, therefore, be it

98 STAT. 1684             PUBLIC LAW 98-437—SEPT. 28, 1984

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, That October 1984
is designated "National Down's Syndrome Month" and that the
President of the United States is authorized and requested to issue a
proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe
the designated month with appropriate programs, ceremonies and
                Approved September 28, 1984.

(If you’re a political geek, you may also be interested in seeing if your home state Senator or Member of Congress were one of the original co-sponsors).

One of those “appropriate ceremonies” observing National Down Syndrome Awareness Month are community walks.

Around the nation, local parent support organizations are holding walks to raise awareness about their services and about the lives of their members with Down syndrome. These walks also typically are the largest fundraiser for these organizations, supporting programming throughout the year.

This Down Syndrome Awareness Month, google your local organization to see when their annual walk is being held. Usually searching “Down syndrome” and the name of your town is enough to find your local group. You can also search at Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action.

(If you cannot locate one and would still like to support one of these walks, then feel free to support my daughter’s walk team for our local organization. Donations can be made on-line at this link.)

Down syndrome need not be a mystery or an unknown. Take advantage of this Awareness Month by getting to know your local group and its members with Down syndrome. You may find yourself charmed, transformed, and having a more positive view about those living with Down syndrome.


  1. I feel a little facepalm over the 80’s being THIRTY YEARS AGO, but aside from that, Wow. THis was an interesting read – I had no idea.Thank you

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