What World Down Syndrome Day Means to Me

The great importance of having World Down Syndrome Day is to have a very good and respectful world. We need to respect people with Down syndrome. We should really have respect for everyone. World Down Syndrome Day is about knowing that we are really doing something good for the world and for us too, because it really, deeply is so very important to us all who have Down Syndrome like me and my very old friends and the friends that I see now.  World Down Syndrome Day is very important to me and to my everyday life and it has been throughout my entire lifetime. From the time I was born until now, I am Down syndrome through and through.

Paul and his friends at a World Down Syndrome Day event

What is your advice for people who want to learn more about Down syndrome?

My advice for people who want to learn about Down syndrome would be to get to know me as a person. I am the Awareness Leader for CDSS and a worker at the café as well as a home owner. They’ve just got to understand; they’ve just got to know about things like my name, what I do, used to do in the past, what I am now doing in the present life, so that they can understand, really understand, about my life.

Get to know other people with Down syndrome, too. That is the best way to learn. I do think that all people should understand the importance of education and learning about other people and mental and emotional feelings. 

Paul Sawka speaking at a World Down Syndrome Day event

What kind of assumptions do people make about you?

I am frustrated when people don’t let me go to the movies by myself, because I can buy my own food and snacks by myself and get my own movie ticket and a seat also. 

I am frustrated when people do not show me any respect or try to get to know me. Like when people assume that I am happy or simple. I am complex and have big feelings like anger, betrayal, and shame. These feelings of frustration can be hard to describe and put into words. And that is the heart of Down syndrome and my feelings that I had when I was growing up.

This Year, I will be in Jamaica on World Down Syndrome Day and I will be wearing my mismatched socks on the Beach! In the past, we did celebrate with a Parade and speeches and ballons and with a cake for my Dad’s birthday that is on World Down Syndrome Day as well.

It is important for me to fulfill the role of awareness leader to teach people about Down Syndrome. My big message is to have all of Canada really know how important World Down Syndrome Day is to all of us.