I’M NOT CRYING…it’s just been raining on my face. (I can’t take credit for that one — that’s Flight of the Conchords.) Actually, I can’t lie…I did tear up, right at the end with the scenes of the moms hugging their kids.

This Friday, March 21, 2014 is World Down Syndrome Day. It’s the ninth year since it started. From the official website:

Down Syndrome International encourages our friends all over the world to choose your own activities and events to help raise awareness of what Down syndrome is, what it means to have Down syndrome, and how people with Down syndrome play a vital role in our lives and communities. We will share your WDSD World Events on our dedicated WDSD website in a single global meeting place.

My partner works closely with adults with Down Syndrome and other cognitive learning disabilities. In a nutshell, she helps them find meaningful work in the community. She tells me funny, heartwarming, poignant, deep stories from her time with them. She tells me how much she learns from them about life. I’d never had any close contact with anyone with Down Syndrome before, but recently I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with a 28-year-old. We’ve all played games together, gone to a movie, bowled, and just hung out. He’s a hard worker, holding down multiple jobs; he’s hilarious; and he’s clever.

When we went bowling, he never got upset with himself when he threw gutter balls, nor got frustrated when others bowled strikes and scored higher points. When it was his turn to bowl he stood at the line with the focus of an Olympic athlete. Whatever the result was, he smiled. He had fun just playing, and he celebrated with everyone else when others did well. It can be so refreshing stepping into the world of someone who sees life differently, who isn’t bitter and jaded from a culture that pressures us to be competitive and individualistic.

The message is simple: Those born with Down Syndrome have just as much a right to a healthy and fulfilling life as anyone else.