Press Release

Ministry of Health & Social Development
Release Date:
Thursday, 21 March 2024 - 5:05pm

The Disabilities Services remains steadfast in their mission to breakdown the stigma surrounding persons living with Down syndrome in the Virgin Islands.

Minister for Health and Social Development, Vincent O. Wheatley said World Down Syndrome Day being observed today, highlights the unique abilities and contributions of individuals with Down syndrome, fostering a culture of acceptance and appreciation for diversity in our communities.

Honourable Wheatley said, “World Down Syndrome Day serves as a platform to challenge stereotypes, promote acceptance, and advocate for equal opportunities for people with Down syndrome. Observing this day fosters a more inclusive society where everyone, regardless of ability, is valued and empowered to reach their full potential.”

Meanwhile, Director for Disabilities Services Miss Crystal Estridge said the public should acknowledge the agency and independence of persons with Down syndrome as this would help to break the stigma.

Miss Estridge said, “A lot of people view persons with Down syndrome as being incapable or not having any agency. So, what we do with our clients is we build up their skills for them to go out in the community. We have various programmes such as our job placement programmes. We try to teach life skills such as cooking, laundry, ironing, to teach them independence. So, we ask the public to support our clients and not label them and not stigmatise them as incapable or unable.”

World Down Syndrome Day is observed annually on March 21, and this year’s theme is #EndtheStereotype. The condition is caused by a chromosome abnormality and according to the United Nations; the estimated incidence of Down syndrome is between 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 1,100 live births worldwide.

The public was also asked to wear multi-coloured socks to show solidarity with those with the condition.

The Ministry of Health and Social Development through its subsidiary the Disabilities Services Division remains committed to serving the needs of special needs persons in the Virgin Islands.


Fitsroy Randall

Information Officer I
Ministry of Health and Social Development
Vornicia's House of Commerce, Long Bush
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
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