“Leave no one behind.” It’s a simple phrase which says a lot.
March 21 has been officially recognized by the UN as “World Down Syndrome Day” since 2011. In various countries, people will celebrate the day by wearing brightly colored socks.
There is much to celebrate, not least of all the reality that the lifespan of a person with Down syndrome has more than doubled since 1983, when it was estimated at age 25 years. Our celebration also should be for the great possibilities which many individuals with Down syndrome (and other disabilities) achieve. I know that my niece’s son, Xavier, has opportunities which didn’t exist 20 years ago as a result of others who have come before him.
Last year, we celebrated Isaiah Lombardo as one of our Gala Achievers. A young man in his 20s, Isaiah successfully managed the transition to the workforce after graduating school and he has a long record of service. Isaiah has presented for years as a co-teacher for Operation House Call, where he helps teach medical and graduate health care students about ways to improve the quality of care for individuals with I/DD. He also gave five years of service as manager of his high school football team before he graduated, and now works at Fenway Park.
Yes, “leave no one behind” is a good theme for today. But given the lives of Isaiah and others I know whom we celebrate today, perhaps “don’t hold me back” rings true, too.
Leo V. Sarkissian