PHOTOS: In Romania, Santa Steps In To Help Fight Stigma Of Down Syndrome
Folk costumes, gifts, carol-singing and a visit from the man in red himself: a celebration in Romania last week was rich in Christmas cheer.
But it had a serious element as well. The gathering — featuring more than 50 children with Down syndrome and their families — was part of an ongoing project to reduce the stigma of Down syndrome in Romania, and encourage the parents of children with the disorder, the Associated Press reports.
There are few facilities for individuals with Down syndrome, and most women who learn their children are at risk of developing the syndrome choose to have abortions, an obstetrician tells the AP.
Angels Down Friends, founded in 2013, is working to integrate children with Down syndrome into broader Romanian society. The organization believes there are as many as 50,000 people with Down syndrome in the country, the wire service reports, instead of the government-reported 30,000.
The Christmas celebration was "one step to change mentalities, attitudes, preconceived ideas," the organization said in a statement, according to the AP.
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