Chess at Top GolfT. Chess Mitchell, staff member at NDSC and Expert on Movies has recently reviewed The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water for our friends at NDSC.
These are his findings:

NDSC: How many stars would give The SpongeBob Movie out of 5 stars for excellence?
Chess’s answer: 5 stars = It was so funny!

NDSC: Who would like the movie more, the children or parents?
Chess’s answer: Probably kids, but some parents could find it funny.

NDSC: What was the movie about?
Chess’s answer: SpongeBob goes on a adventure to discover a stolen recipe that takes him to our dimension, our world, where he wrestles with a pirate.

NDSC: What was one of the best parts of the movie?Spongebob
Chess’s answer: The crab does the robot dance!

NDSC: Final thoughts from Chess on The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water . . .
Chess’s answer: “Second part is much funnier than part one.”

WebIn honor of the 10th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day and the 21st anniversary of the “International Year of the Family”, this year’s WDSD conference at the United Nations will focus on the role of families, and the positive contribution they make toward full and equal rights for people with Down syndrome. Please visit the World Down Syndrome Day website of Down Syndrome International to see the most current information about this day.WDSD high res


In your own communities, we want to promote “Random Acts of Kindness” in recognition of World Down Syndrome Day.  NDSC is collaborating with six other national Down syndrome organizations in the United States (Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action, Global Down Syndrome Foundation, International Down Syndrome Coalition, International Mosaic Down Syndrome Association, Lumind Foundation, National Down Syndrome Society), and we have created a toolkit for WDSD 2015 that you can use to share information about Down syndrome with your community, celebrate people with Down syndrome, and spread a little love and kindness in the name of Down syndrome!

It’s as easy as 1-2-3-4!

1. On March 21st (or around that day), wear a t-shirt that says something about Down syndrome. (Your NDSC Convention t-shirt is a great option!)

2. Choose an act of kindness, like taking cookies to a fire station, or checking in on an elderly neighbor. (We have a list of suggestions to help get you started!)







3. Print a WDSD postcard and give it out or place it with your Random Act.






4. Take pictures of the random act and post on your social media pages with the hashtag #WDSD15.

We’ll have people on the receiving end of our kindness, and the whole world watching on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Let’s make this the biggest, best World Down Syndrome Day yet!

Chess PhotoT. Chess Mitchell: Staff member at NDSC and Expert on Movies

Chess has recently reviewed the Annie Movie (2015) for our friends at NDSC. These are his findings:

NDSC: How many stars would you give Annie out of 5 stars for excellence?

Chess’s answer: 5 stars = Awesome and Fun Songs!

NDSC: Is Annie a movie option to watch for a Family Night?Annie

Chess’s answer: Yes, it is a family friendly movie about how important family is and great music.

NDSC: Do you have a favorite character and why?

Chess’s answer: The character Jamie Foxx played was great! He ended up being a good father for Annie.

NDSC: Final thoughts from Chess on Annie . . .

Chess’s answer: I love it! In fact, I am going to see it again this Friday!

Chess PhotoT. Chess Mitchell: Staff member at NDSC and Expert on Movies

Chess has recently reviewed Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb for our friends at NDSC. These are his findings:

NDSC: How many stars would you give the movie out of 5 stars for excellence?

Chess’s answer: 5 stars = Good 3rd Museum movie & FUNNY!

NDSC: How did you feel about seeing Robin Williams in Night at the Museum?

Chess’s answer: He is one of my favorite actors and it was cool to see him in the movie. He played a great President Teddy.Night at the Museum

NDSC: Which part of the movie did you like the best?

Chess’s answer: Solving the “mystery” and the Secret of the Tomb. Something important changes in the movie – you must see it to find out. ;)

NDSC: Who went with you to see the movie?

Chess’s answer: I went with a good friend and his parents.

NDSC: Final thoughts from Chess:

Chess’s answer: The Secret of the Tomb is worth it.

Chess PhotoT. Chess Mitchell: Staff member at NDSC and Expert on Movies

Chess has recently reviewed two popular holiday movies for our friends at NDSC. BIG HERO 6 and PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR  . . . these are his findings:

NDSC: Between the two movies, which one did you like the best?

Chess’s answer: Big Hero 6

NDSC: How many stars would you give Penguins of Madagascar out of 5 stars for excellence?

Chess’s answer: 5 stars = Funny and cute!

NDSC: What did you like most about the movie Big Hero 6?imagesA75PH1FW

Chess’s answer: Hero honors his brother. Family is important.

NDSC: Which part of Big Hero 6 was the most interesting?

Chess’s answer: It was cool to see them become Superheros.

NDSC: Back to the Penguins, was there an especially funny moment you liked?

Chess’s answer: I like watching them act like brothers.

NDSC: Final thoughts from Chess on these holiday movies . . .

Chess’s answer: Penguins is a better holiday movie and Big Hero 6 is a better family movie. Go see them and enjoy!Penguins

The National Down Syndrome Congress is disappointed in The 700 Club, and the comments from its founder, Pat Robertson, as they relate to children with Down syndrome. Tuesday’s program is the second time this year we’ve been made aware of Mr. Robertson using the word “Mongoloid” to describe individuals with Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), in addition to talking about the condition in a very demeaning way.

We’d like Mr. Robertson to realize that it is the year 2014, where words like these are no longer acceptable. NDSC board member, Dr. George Capone, director of the Down Syndrome Clinic at Kennedy-Krieger Institute, was surprised by Mr. Robertson’s remarks. “It’s disturbing that a person with great influence over a large number of followers, would assert such misinformation about Down syndrome (and cleft palate, for that matter) in this public forum, using not only inaccurate information, but also outdated and hurtful terminology”, Dr. Capone said.

NDSC invites Mr. Robertson to take the time to learn more about Down syndrome, and get to know people who are living with this condition. As the leading national resource of support and information for anyone seeking to learn about Down syndrome, we would be happy to assist.

Chess PhotoT. Chess Mitchell: Staff member at NDSC and Expert on Movies

Chess has recently reviewed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for our friends at NDSC. These are his findings:

NDSC: How many stars would you give TMNT out of 5 stars for excellence?

Chess’s answer: 5 stars = Awesome and Funny!

NDSC: Is TMNT a movie option to watch for a Family Night?

Chess’s answer: It’s PG13 so best for older kids and parents.

NDSC: Did you like the action parts in the movie?

Chess’s answer: OH YEAH! I love it! Fun to watch the action parts.

NDSC: Do you have a favorite turtle and why?

Chess’s answer: Raphael because he gets mad and makes the face I make when I get upset.

NDSC: Final thoughts from Chess on TMNT . . .

Chess’s answer: “Oh man!! Great movie, you gotta see it for yourself!”5422db738726f

We enjoyed this radio documentary very much, and hope you’ll listen, too. Learn more about Jane and how the piece came to life below.

For years, I drove by Misericordia, a Chicago campus for over 600 adults with intellectual and often physical disabilities.  I promised myself that some day I would volunteer.  That time arrived over four years ago.  I attended a workshop for new volunteers and was then assigned to work in the Computer Room—not because of my technical skills but because of my background as an English teacher and the secondary focus in the room on writing and reading comprehension.

I began my volunteering with some trepidation.  I’d never worked with people with Down syndrome or other disabilities.  What would it be like?  Would I be comfortable with people different from me?  Would they appreciate my contribution or just see me as one more volunteer?  How would I react to the physical symptoms like stuttering, drooling, or an uneven gait?  Would I be patient when words failed some of the residents?

I worked hard to develop a personal connection with every person in the group.  One person with Down syndrome loved to ask me about my family.  Another resident was stuck on computer games, particularly “Wheel of Fortune.”  I became his partner, and we played the game with gusto.  Another resident enjoyed sports and played on several of Misericordia’s teams.  I made sure to comment on the gold medals he proudly wore around his neck after each game or playoff series.

It didn’t take long for the residents to fall for me and me for them.  Each week, I was greeted with shouts of “We love you,” “Here’s Jane,” “You look beautiful today, just like a movie star!”  Who can resist such unconditional love and respect?  Not me!  And that respect goes both ways.  I marvel at how these newfound friends take their disabilities in stride, how, in many cases, they aren’t even aware of their differences.

I never lose touch with these residents.  When I’m lucky enough to spend two months each winter in Mexico, I skype once a week and often send photos of the people and activities in San Miguel de Allende.

What have I learned from these years of volunteer work?  I’ve learned that folks with intellectual disabilities have the same interests, goals, and dreams as the public as a whole.  They talk lovingly about their boyfriends and girlfriends, their families, and their friends.  They strive to express their feelings, even when words fail them.  Many work outside jobs and can’t wait to put their paycheck in the bank.  They are passionate about everything from singing to movement to art.

And I have learned to park what often seem like personal problems at the door.  How can I complain when these adults have overcome enormous challenges?

Over a year ago, I decided to write and produce a radio documentary that profiles three of the adults in “my” group, including two people with Down syndrome.  I recorded interviews, talked to parents, discussed Down syndrome and other disabilities with experts.  And I included my personal journey.  The result is “What A Difference Differences Make,” an 18-minute piece that I hope will generate discussion and touch listeners’ hearts.  The piece is available at this page  Any feedback or radio contacts are greatly appreciated.


Chess at Top Golf

Chess with awesome trainer Ashley, on his first day at Top Golf

T. Chess Mitchell has recently started a second job at Top Golf ( and is excited to share about his first week of employment there! As you may know, Chess also works as the Office/Social Media Assistant here at the NDSC. Now with his additional hours at Top Golf, he is thrilled to be working Monday through Friday! Below is a short interview with Chess about his new experience.

Why did you want to work at Top Golf?
“It looked like a fun and exciting place to work!”

What are your top three favorite things about working at Top Golf have been after one week?
“I enjoy the task of polishing the silverware for the customers so they can have an awesome time at Top Golf. I like polishing better than the rolling but I am good at the rolling part, too.”
“I get to wear the cool Top Golf shirts as a staff member and the ‘Rock Star in Training’ nametag.”
“Yummy food – breakfast, lunch and dinner options. My favorite so far is the American Cheeseburger sliders.”

Share a little about your new coworkers and supervisors. How has it been meeting all the new people?
“Clayton (the guy who interviewed & oversees me): He is Good Guy! He’s got my back.”
“I like going to the staff Team Meetings and yelling really loud during the Team cheer at the end of meeting.”
“Hannah is a coworker that is nice, helpful and cool.”

What are you most looking forward to in your new job?
“Bringing my parents to see my second job and having fun playing golf here with them.”
“Having my NDSC coworkers come in to play golf with me when I get done with work so we can laugh together.”
“Taking my girlfriend out with the extra money from my paycheck.”

GDSF and NDSC Logos

DENVER & ATLANTA (August 22, 2014) – The Global Down Syndrome Foundation and the National Down Syndrome Congress are outraged and saddened by recent public comments by the British author Richard Dawkins.

In response to a question from a concerned woman about the possibility of having a child with Down syndrome, Dawkins strongly argued for the elimination of people with the condition.

“…The decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare,” Dawkins wrote on his blog.

Global Down Syndrome Foundation executive director Michelle Sie Whitten responded: “It is amazing to me in the 21st century that there is so much misinformation and discrimination against people with Down syndrome. I would hope the world is as appalled by Richard Dawkins’ statements as it was by the recent case of twin baby Gammy, where his Australian biological parents abandoned him to his surrogate in Thailand. The fact is people with Down syndrome can and do live long, happy and productive lives.”

“We firmly believe and advocate that ‘We’re More Alike Than Different,’ and statements like Richard Dawkins’ promote division instead of unity,” said David Tolleson, executive director of the National Down Syndrome Congress. “People with Down syndrome should not be treated like second-class citizens, and anyone making that argument sets back the great progress that has been made in terms of equality for all people.”

The Global Down Syndrome Foundation and the National Down Syndrome Congress strongly advocate for the availability of current and accurate information about Down syndrome. Below are specific facts about the condition in the United States:

Lifespan – Today, the average lifespan of a person with Down syndrome is nearly 60 years.

Termination rates – The best available statistics in the U.S. are that an estimated 67 percent of women who receive an amniocentesis resulting in a positive test result for Down syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancies. But over 95 percent of pregnant women don’t even elect to receive an amniocentesis.

Medical care & research – There have been great strides in medical care and research that have doubled the lifespan of people with Down syndrome over the last 30 years.

Educational opportunities – People with Down syndrome are included in public schools. Many complete high school, and increasing numbers are going to college or get vocational training.

Voting & Employment – Many people with Down syndrome work, volunteer and vote.

Marriage, Siblings & Self-advocates– Despite potential challenges, personal accounts and studies show most families that have a child with Down syndrome are stable, successful and happy, and that siblings often report having increased levels of compassion and empathy. One major study on marriages and Down syndrome shows that the divorce rate among parents of children with Down syndrome is lower than the national average.

For the most current, accurate information and resources associated with people with Down syndrome visit or

About the Global Down Syndrome Foundation
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is a public nonprofit 501(c)(3) dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education and advocacy. Formally established in 2009, Global has the primary focus of supporting the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, the first academic home in the U.S. committed to research and medical care for people with the condition. Fundraising and government advocacy that corrects the alarming disparity of national funding for people with Down syndrome is a major short-term goal. Global organizes the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show — the single-largest annual fundraiser benefiting people with Down syndrome. Programmatically, Global organizes and funds many programs and conferences, including the Dare to Play Football Camp with Ed McCaffrey, the Dare to Cheer Camp with the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders, and the Global Down Syndrome Educational Series. Global is an inclusive organization without political or religious affiliation or intention.

About the National Down Syndrome Congress
Founded in 1973, the National Down Syndrome Congress is the oldest national organization for people with Down syndrome, their families, and the professionals who work with them. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit advocacy organization, the NDSC provides free technical support and information about issues related to Down syndrome throughout the lifespan, as well as on matters of public policy relating to disability rights.  Best known for its annual convention – the largest of its type in the world – the National Down Syndrome Congress is a grassroots organization recognized for its “family” feel, its “We’re More Alike than Different” public awareness campaign, and its outreach to individuals from diverse backgrounds.