Annual Convention - June 27-30, 2019 - Pittsburgh, PA

Youth & Adults Conference

The Youth & Adults Conference is the heart and soul of the weekend. It is designed to be a fun, enriching and empowering experience for self-advocates (individuals with DS) ages 15 and older. Separate registration is required to attend the Y&A conference.

With the support of NDSC’s Youth & Adults Support Team, this conference is planned and presented by self-advocates, for self-advocates.

Y&A Conference Schedule

Friday, June 28
1:15 – 3:15 pm

Kick-Off Party

This is an opportunity for self-advocates to reunite with good friends and make new acquaintances. The afternoon includes a keynote presentation, ice-breaker activities, and of course music. Attendees will also vote for their NDSC Self-Advocate Board of Directors representative after viewing the campaign speeches of the nominees running for the position.

Saturday, June 29
9:00 am – 5:15 pm

Break-out Sessions

Throughout the day self-advocates will move in rotation groups through six breakout sessions. Sessions include Workshops and Spotlight Presentations presented or lead by self-advocates. Sessions are pre-selected by the NDSC Y&A team for each rotation group.

Note: Registered Y&A attendees are assigned to a table with 7-9 other self-advocates and 1-2 table volunteers. Individuals at these tables move together with the volunteer(s) through the breakout sessions. This helps provide the proper support for all individuals.

Lunch is included on Saturday.

Sunday, June 30
8:15 am – 12:15 pm

Talent Show Extravaganza

An annual celebration where self-advocates showcase their talents and interests. The show will combine two types of performances, group sing-and-dance-alongs, and featured performances. Attendees wishing to perform must submit a Performance Request Form after completing Y&A conference registration.

Sunday Workshops Opportunities

In lieu of attending a portion of the talent show, attendees may opt to attend a 90 minute workshop led by leaders in the Down syndrome community. To attend, this option must be selected during the Y&A registration process.

Y&A Conference Registration

To attend, an individual must be registered specifically for the Youth & Adults Conference, by adding the individual as an attendee to registration, selecting the conference type “Y&A Conference”, and completing the necessary questions. Y&A Conference registration provides access to all general convention functions (opening session, receptions, dances, exhibits, etc.) in addition to the Y&A Conference programming.

Proper support of all all attendees is of utmost importance to us, both for their safety and enjoyment. This requires much time and planning prior to the conference itself. We ask for necessary information at the time of registration. For this reason, we do not accept any on-site registrations for the Y&A Conference.

It’s also important to note that we often reach our capacity for Y&A attendance prior to the registration deadline and must close registration at that time. Self-advocates not acquiring a slot in the Y&A Conference or deciding the conference will not meet their needs are welcome to register as a “General Conference” attendee.

Before registering please review Y&A Questions Asked During Registration


Workshop and Spotlight Presenters

Self-advocates will be presenting workshop and spotlight presentations starting on Friday at kick-off and through the day on Saturday. The Y&A conference is planned by and for individuals with DS.


Sunday Workshop Opportunities

On Sunday, four workshop opportunities are offered to self-advocates attending the Y&A Conference. These opportunities occur concurrently with the Talent Show Extravaganza. In order for Y&A attendees to participate in these workshops they must select this option during registration. Look for the Sunday Workshops questions during Y&A registration.

Sunday Workshop Opportunities

Be a part of the Y&A Conference Memory Book

The Memory Book is like a yearbook for the Y&A Convention Attendees only. Y&A Conference Attendees must submit their memory book information to be included in the Memory Book. The form asks for your name, where you live, a couple sentences you would like to share about yourself, and a picture.

Memory Book Information Form deadline is May 17, 2019. This is a hard deadline. No exceptions.

For questions about the memory book contact

Y&A Conference Annual Talent Show!

Talent Show Schedule

We are looking for musicians, actors, singers, poets, dancers, comedians, martial artists and magicians to perform for the best audience in the world! To be a part of our Sunday entertainment you must complete a Talent Show Performance Request Form no later than May 17th. A panel of “scouts” will review all requests and select a limited number of featured performances.

This year we will have two categories of performances.
Group Performances: This is a group sing-and-dance-along. Individuals can request to be part of a performance to one of several pre-selected songs. All those choosing this option will perform on stage at the same time to the designated song. All applicants for a group performance will be provided a slot.

Featured Performances: This can be a group or individual performance. Performance is maximum of two (2) minutes. Due to time constraints there is a limited number of openings in this category. Selection will be based on originality, past performances, and ability to meet deadlines. The selection process will be completed in early May. Those not selected will be able to join a group performance if desired.

The deadline to submit your form is May 17, 2019
For questions contact

Be an NDSC Board of Director

Any member with Down syndrome, 22 years old or older, in good standing in the NDSC, and having attended three(3) of the last five(5) NDSC Annual Convention Y&A Conferences is eligible for nomination to the Board of Directors of the National Down Syndrome Congress.
Three self-advocates serve on the BOD and each year one self-advocate is elected by his or her peers at the convention’s Y&A Conference for a three-year term. If you are interesting in running for the board please complete the SA Board Nomination Form before the May 17, 2019 deadline. Financial support is available for self-advocate directors to attend the two annual board meetings held each year.

Nominations for 2019 is closed.

The SAC Delegate Forum

The NDSC Self-Advocate Council hosts a forum for delegates (individuals with DS) to share ideas on how they are involved with their local Down syndrome affiliate or local area to help support and serve individuals with Down syndrome and their families.

Each year at the convention a new set of delegates meet. This year’s delegates will join the SAC for a guest speaker presentation from Heather Sachs, NDSC Policy & Advocacy Director. The meeting will be at 10:00 AM, Friday, June 28.

If you would like to represent your area as a Self-Advocate Council Delegate please complete the Delegate form. Delegates must be at least 15 years old. Delegate Forum participation form is closed.

Lunch Menu

Programming on Saturday runs from 9:00 – 5:15pm. Lunch is provided to attendees and volunteers during this time.

Lunch Menu

Grilled Chicken
Three Cheese Mac Pasta
Seasonal Vegetables
Rolls with butter
Iced water, Iced Tea, Coffee

*The menu is gluten free with the exception of the rolls – gluten free rolls provided on request.

Support Provided

Proper support of all self-advocates is of utmost importance to us, both for their safety and enjoyment. We enlist nearly 100 volunteers each day to help provide support and engagement. This requires much time and planning prior to the conference itself. We ask for necessary information at the time of registration to allow ample time to appropriately match volunteer staff with our attendees.

Registered Y&A attendees are assigned to a table with 7-9 other self-advocates and 1-2 table volunteers (depending on the support needs at that table.) Individuals at these tables move together with the volunteer through the six breakout sessions on Saturday. Additional volunteers also provide support in escorting individuals to the restroom as needed and to any special workshop sessions they have opted for on Sunday. This inevitably provides the proper support for all attendees.

Note: One-on-one support is not provided. Any individual needing this level of support can bring a personal support person. This person should register as a volunteer for Y&A and will be assigned to the individual’s table.

Y&A attendees receive a special name tag, which identifies their assigned table number, their Y&A conference schedule and a family contact number. It also includes an indicator telling volunteers whether the individual is permitted to leave the conference independently or must wait for a family member at the end of each day’s programming.

For further questions please contact