Who created the Endangered Syndrome Campaign?
The Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS) started the Endangered Syndrome Campaign in October 2019 when they wrote their compelling letter to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) requesting that people living with Down Syndrome be added to their Red List of Threatened Species as an endangered sub-species or sub-population of Homo-Sapiens.
Under IUCN’s own rules and criteria to be categorised as an “Endangered” group, it was clear that Down Syndrome would fall under these interpretations of the rules in many Jurisdictions.
So The Candian Down Syndrome Society took the brave step to become the frst group of humans to apply to be listed on the Endangered List.
The CDSS also created and registered the multi award winning EndangeredSyndrome.com online campaign including socials and a campaign website. On the website there was a petition that could be signed by members of the public.
What is the threat to Down Syndrome?
Due to the rapid advances in Technology with the ever increasing availability of pre-natal screening for multiple conditions such as Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), Trisomy 18 (Edwards Syndrome) and Trisomy 13 (Patau Syndrome) and the increased move towards terminiations, the Global Down Syndrome population has started to decline with predictions that Down Syndrome will be extinct in some countries by 2090 such as Iceland.
While the overall population numbers decline, there is the inevitable corresponding problem where people currently living with Down Syndrome will have a voice that will become less heard and opportunities will start to get more and more difficult.
The Canadian Down Syndrome Society took on this challenge with the aim of making sure that the communities voices, feelings and thoughts on that very real possibility of extinction at some point in the future.
Endangered Syndrome’s 5 Pillars
Employment: People living with Down Syndrome want to actively engage in the community and take up employment. They have a right to work and want that right honoured. Everybody wants to be self-sufficient, so do people living with Down Syndrome.
Housing: Everybody dreams of flying the nest and moving out of home, this is no different for people living with Down Syndrome who need access to appropriate housing and facilities in a timely and prompt manner.
Community: Inclusion is paramount to everybodies well being and sense of self worth. People living with Down Syndrome need that little bit extra so its important that supports and relevant services are put in place.
Education: Schooling and further education is difficult for all Children and Adult Learners. Sometimes People living with Down Syndrome can find it difficult to access lower and higher education due to barriers of entry such as funding and personal supports. Guarantees are needed to enshrine education.
Awareness: Sadly people living with Down Syndrome are unfairly labeled and have to deal with unconscious bias on a daily basis. More educational and awareness campaigns are required for the general public so that these ideas are challenged and changed.
How was the Endangered Syndrome Campaign received?
Understandably this campaign created international media attention. The Campaign was on all social media channels such as Youtube and Facebook. Media outlets worldwide reported on the campaign.
The reaction from the public was mixed, some people saw it as an innovative and creative way to raise awareness of very difficult issues facing the Down Syndrome community, others saw it as belittling to dress people living with Down Syndrome up as animals for media campaigns.
A Change.Org petition entitled “People with Down Syndrome are People. They are not endangered” was created and signed by 10,615 people before it was closed asking the Canadian Down Syndrome Society to stop the campaign. https://www.change.org/p/canadian-down-syndrome-society-people-with-down-syndrome-are-people-they-are-not-endangered