WINDSOR HEIGHTS, Iowa -- Down syndrome is the most commonly diagnosed chromosomal disorder and in recent years has become even more common. The Centers for Disease and Control reports about one and seven - hundred babies are born with the condition each year. Despite the spike in numbers of babies being diagnosed, those with the condition are living longer and advocates say that's a cause of for celebration.
Thursday marks World Down Syndrome Day. Parents whose children are diagnosed with the condition stress the important of raising awareness around it.
"Don`t see the disabilities , see the abilities. Let us show you what we can do not what we can`t do, says Jeremy Jorgenson, who's 2 - year - old has Down syndrome.
Gigi's Playhouse, a non - profit organization whose mission is aimed at helping connect families affected by Down syndrome, is where Jorgenson and other parents and their children meet regularly to lean on one another for support.
"When you get your diagnosis it's kind of a scary time which is why I think these organizations are fantastic. It links you with people in the same situation and you realize what a community you have," Jorgenson says.
The parents say instead of feeling sorry about the situation, they celebrate the cards they've been dealt. They say raising awareness about Down syndrome means accepting those who live with it.
"I think it`s important to let people know that it`s okay to reach out and to ask us questions when they see us in the community. Try not shy away from people who have Down syndrome. Just treat them like they are normal people," says Jake Moline, who's 8 - month - old daughter was born with Down syndrome.
Parents say when it comes to being different, kindness and inclusion are what matter most. "Down syndrome is not the end of the world. There is nothing wrong about it," Jorgenson adds.
As a way to continue helping those with Down Syndrome, Gigi's Playhouse is looking to add to the services it already offers at its Windsor Heights location. It's in the process of raising $10,000 to renovate its kitchen to launch a new program focusing on health and fitness.