Health Design Thinker
Dr. Kate Martin

down syndrome

NSHE Southern Nevada Diversity Summit

I had the honor of participating in the NSHE Southern Nevada Diversity Summit yesterday. There were amazing keynote speakers, Eric Deggans and Haben Girma, and sessions focused on strategies to advance institutional equity, intercultural education, and promote access and success for individuals from diverse identity groups in higher education. This year’s theme was “Embracing Community Care: Higher Education’s Role in Addressing Health Inequities,” so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to spread the word about our UNLV Down Syndrome Program. Program Coordinator, Samrawit Misiker, co-lead an interactive group discussion that started with a brainstorming activity. We asked the attendees how they would improve their own healthcare experience. After writing everyone’s responses on a whiteboard, it didn’t take long to realize that our audience members wanted the same things we had heard previously from individuals with Down syndrome and their families: more coordinated care, better communication with healthcare providers, and help navigating insurance coverage, to name a few. Making the most of healthcare shouldn’t be so hard! We should all get to reap the benefits of our technological advancements, evidence-based practices and receive compassionate care. Being part of a diverse and expansive university like UNLV provides enormous potential for change that can have a positive impact on our community and beyond. Here’s to a better healthcare system for all of us, healthdesignthinkers.

Samrawit Misiker (left) and Kate Martin (right) are standing on each side of a Southern Nevada Diversity Summit sign that states, "Reaching the Stars: A University / Community Collaboration for Nevadans with Down Syndrome." Samrawit is wearing a brown and white patterned blazer and Kate is wearing a red and black patterned blazer.
Samrawit Misiker (left) and Kate Martin (right) at the NSHE Southern Nevada Diversity Summit

In Celebration of World Down Syndrome Day

World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is on Monday, March 21st. It is a day to raise awareness and advocate for the rights of people with Ds. The United Nations officially declared the 21st of March as World Down Syndrome Day in December 2011. The date of March 21st was chosen because Ds is caused by 3 copies of the 21st chromosome.

How can you celebrate WDSD? 

Get your socks on! – Socks are shaped like chromosomes, and have become a symbol of support for people with Down syndrome on WDSD. Wear some bright and mismatched socks on Monday to show your support. When someone asks about your socks, help educate them on the topic of Ds. You may also join the #LotsofSocks campaign on Instagram to help raise awareness by using the hashtag. 

Advocate – This year, the theme for WDSD is inclusion. Help advocate for the inclusion of people with Ds by answering “What does inclusion mean?” on social media using #InclusionMeans and #WorldDownSyndromeDay. 

Attend the 11th WDSD Conference – The United Nations headquarters in New York is hosting a virtual conference to explain what inclusion means. This event is on Zoom, and consists of separate sessions from 8am until 12pm PST on WDSD. Register to attend here

You can also participate in WDSD to help raise awareness locally. This past year, Southern Nevada has seen a rise of organizations specific to Down syndrome, including the establishment of our very own Down Syndrome Program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

What are some ways you can be a health design thinker and raise awareness about the vulnerable populations in your community?


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