The 51st Annual NDSC Convention was an incredible weekend with more than 5,000 attendees who participated in educational workshops, community building and networking events, awards and recognition ceremonies, heard many inspiring speeches and did LOTS of dancing. Throughout the weekend’s events, the euphoria over our collective work together was something beautifully unique.
Not only was this year our biggest year overall, but we are proud to say that the Youth & Adults Conference, which serves only individuals with Down syndrome, hosted 400 attendees, shattering all previous Y&A attendee records! During this conference attendees have the chance to hear from speakers on topics like college, online safety, dating, and more.
Thank you to all who gave their time, talents and expertise, attendees and especially the NDSC Board and staff for their devotion and dedication to our loved ones with Down syndrome. Together we are molding a better future for them.
Thank you to longtime NDSC member and dad, Jay Silverman, for capturing many beautiful moments during the weekend. View Jay’s photos here.
The silent auction will open on April 17th. Visit the NDSC Golf Classic Facebook page for updates and to catch a glimpse of other silent auction items, then on the 17th check out ALL the items in the digital silent auction site.
Did you know that attendees to the 51st Annual Convention this July 20-23 get discounted tickets to the Orlando theme parks? Deals include Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World and MORE. Half-day and evening tickets are also available.
Register before April 30th to secure Early Bird pricing and to reserve your theme parks tickets!
NDSC is excited to welcome Michigan’s Petra Mark to the National Down Syndrome Advocacy Coalition (NDAC)! With the addition of Petra to NDAC, we now have only 17 states needing Self-Advocate Representation. Let us know if you or someone you know is a person with Down syndrome who can represent one of our missing states. Learn more and complete an easy online application at NDAC FAQ & ONLINE APPLICATION or contact Jawanda Mast at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to learn how to be a more effective advocate? Don’t miss Our 6th Annual Advocacy Training Boot Camp, Friday morning, July 21, 8:00 – 11:30 AM. Advocacy Training Boot Camp, sponsored by the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, is free with convention registration. We have a wonderful agenda planned to give you the tools you need to be an effective advocate. No experience? This is for you! Registration for this session is encouraged but not required.
On April 8th, Wils Van Bergen will celebrate his four-year work anniversary as an Office Services Clerk at ShuffieldLowman Attorneys and Advisors in Orlando, FL. Wils loves “having a job, having good coworkers, and earning my own spending money.” Wils says he spends his money on “My fiancé Eleana and on my favorite X-Box and PlayStation Games.” Human Resources Manager Maureen McArdle says, “We are proud to support Wils and his efforts in raising awareness for Down Syndrome. He is a very loyal and dedicated employee, and everyone looks forward to seeing him. He always has a smile on his face and is willing to do whatever is asked of him.” Thank you ShuffieldLowman for supporting individuals with Down syndrome through employment and thank you Wils for sharing your story!
New Accrediting Agency for Inclusive Higher Education
In a major development for postsecondary students with intellectual disability (ID), a new accrediting agency has been incorporated, the Inclusive Higher Education Accreditation Council (IHEAC). Launched by the National Coordinating Center, Think College, the new nonprofit agency will accredit higher education programs for students with ID, improving quality and accountability. In another milestone, an accreditation team conducted a site visit at the Western Carolina University UP program, the first college program seeking accreditation by the new agency. NDSC Senior Policy Advisor, Stephanie Smith Lee participated in the visit and is the president of the IHEAC.
Our featured NDAC Member, Heather Hancock Blackburn, 39 of Moore, Oklahoma, is a fierce advocate for the inclusion of individuals with Down syndrome. She is very proud of her advocacy work with her local Down syndrome group, the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma, to make the world a better place for people with Down syndrome.
One of the ways experts learn more about Down syndrome is through research of individuals with the condition. These research opportunities are voluntary for families, and their purpose is to provide information that helps professionals set goals, objectives and policy, as well impact the future of individuals with Down syndrome.
Position Statement on Guardianship for Individuals with Down syndrome
NDSC is excited to announce our newest position statement on Guardianship for Individuals with Down syndrome. Through this position statement, NDSC recognizes that the guardianship system needs major reform to ensure that people with Down syndrome retain, to the greatest extent possible, all their civil rights and constitutional due process protections and to ensure that a less restrictive alternative is available should it meet a person’s needs. Given this, NDSC believes less restrictive means of decision-making support should be considered before the use of guardianship is considered as an option. With this position statement, NDSC furthers its commitment to disability rights and ensuring that people with Down syndrome have the freedom and opportunity to make their own choices.
NDSC Urges Social Security Administration to Eliminate Food from Support and Maintenance Calculations
On February 15, 2023, the Social Security Administration (SSA) published a proposed regulation that would take a step toward updating outdated rules for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The proposed regulation would exclude food purchased by others from being considered for the purposes of SSI. The NDSC Policy and Advocacy Team submitted comments to the SSA in support of the proposed changes to remove food from the calculation of In-Kind Support and Maintenance (ISM).
The deadline to submit public comments is April 17, 2023. If you or a family member would like to submit your own comments, please use this link from Justice in Aging for a pre-filled template to submit comments: tinyurl.com/ssiregulations.
Apr. 17-19 – 2023 Down Syndrome Advocacy Conference | In-Person at Hilton, Crystal City Reagan National Airport with the National Down Syndrome Society, Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action, LuMind IDSC Foundation, GLOBAL, and GiGi’s Playhouse, Inc.
2022 has been an exciting year of change and growth for NDSC. Our staff and board have renewed dedication to our mission of creating a better world for individuals with Down syndrome, where Dreams Do Come True, which has inspired the focus of our end-of-year giving campaign.