World Down Syndrome Day: 21 stories over 21 days

In the lead-up to World Down Syndrome Day on 21 March, Australians with Down syndrome will share their pride with the world through 21 stories over 21 days.

The patron of Down Syndrome Australia (DSA), Governor-General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove, will also host an event at Government House on World Down Syndrome Day, acknowledging people with Down syndrome and their families for their contributions to the community.

“I am proud to be patron of Down Syndrome Australia and encourage all Australians to get involved with World Down Syndrome Day. It is an opportunity to celebrate the remarkable lives and achievements of people with Down syndrome,” the Governor-General said.

“The international theme for World Down Syndrome Day 2019 is ‘no one left behind.’ Too often people with Down syndrome do not have the same opportunities as their peers because of the stigma associated with intellectual disability,” said DSA Chief Executive Dr Ellen Skladzien.

“For World Down Syndrome Day this year, Down Syndrome Australia is tackling the stigma and lack of understanding about Down syndrome in our community.

“We asked people with Down syndrome to consider the question, ‘What Makes Me Proud?’ The answers we received showcase the diverse interests, passions and abilities of people with Down syndrome,” Dr Skladzien said.

“I like to get up at 4am each morning. It’s a special time for me, when I have the house to myself because Mum and Dad are asleep. I like to paint, write, play my guitar,” said Warrnambool artist Alex Rees when asked what makes him proud.

“Many people have bought my paintings. People tell me that they really like my paintings and that the colours make them happy. I like the feeling this gives me.

“When I sell a painting, I use the money to support a deaf student in Ghana. I also buy Solar Buddy lights for Ghanaian children, so they can read and do school work at night,” Mr Rees said.

Read Alex's story.

For more information and 21 stories by people with Down syndrome, visit

Available for interview:

  • Dr Ellen Skladzien, CEO, Down Syndrome Australia
  • Mr Angus Graham, OAM, Chairman, Down Syndrome Australia
  • Mr Alex Rees (Victoria), Ms Olivia Hargroder (Queensland), Mr Joe Barnes (NSW), Mr Leigh Creighton (NSW) and several other people who contributed their stories to #WhatMakesMeProud are available for media interview.

Media Contact: Dominic O’Grady, Communciations Manager, Down Syndrome Australia. 

M: 0400110169. E: 

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