The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) is the leading human rights organization for individuals with Down syndrome. NDSS envisions a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations and become valued members of welcoming communities. Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition. One in every 691 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of the 21st chromosome. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome. Down syndrome occurs in all races and economic levels. Today there are more than 400,000 people in the U.S. with Down syndrome.

Since 1979, NDSS has helped the Down syndrome community make great strides in enhancing the lives of people with Down syndrome. As the national advocate for people with Down syndrome, our goal is to ensure that individuals with Down syndrome are fully participating members of our communities. NDSS provides state-of-the-art, comprehensive programming to all individuals with Down syndrome and their families with four main areas of programming which include: the National Advocacy & Policy Center, the National Inclusive Health & Sports Program featuring our National Buddy Walk Program, Community Outreach and Resources and Public Awareness.•

Mother and daughter

DOWN BUT NOT OUT: "As the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome, our job is to break down all barriers to allow people with Down syndrome to reach their full potential."(Above) Sara Hart Weir meets with Macy Harnisch; (Below) Katelynn Daniel is ready for a new school year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sara Hart Weir, MS, is president of the National Down Syndrome Society in New York City and Washington, DC.