Happy New Year! 

We are excited to share important updates on what's in store at the MDSC in the months ahead!

In 2017, we're going to advance a wide range of initiatives to create more opportunities for people with Down syndrome to live meaningful, fulfilling lives throughout the lifespan. 

Let's make 2017 count... 
Highlights of the MDSC's Work in 2016
We pushed forward with our ambitious agenda

Over the last 12 months we worked on everything from making systemic changes in disability policy to providing critical programs for individuals with Down syndrome and their families. For example:  

Policy
Rep. Jim Cantwell, who sponsored the Organ Transplant Bill, at our 2016 Advocacy Day
We passed another major piece of legislation - our Organ Transplant Non-Discrimination Bill - which once and for all guarantees that people with Down syndrome and other disabilities are not arbitrarily passed over when waiting in line for critical, life-saving procedures. 

Employment 
Our Your Next Star employment campaign made significant inroads in the hiring landscape in Massachusetts through meetings with employers like MIT, conference presentations and grassroots outreach like Diversify Your Workforce events to educate employers.

Family Support 
We have continued to expand our bedrock Parents First Call program, expanding our personalized services and meeting families "where they're at" - baby massage and sign language classes; support groups for Spanish-speaking families and families of diverse backgrounds; our Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome (DADS) Affiliate gatherings;  New Family Socials, Grandparents Get Togethers and our first ever "Families with Twins Social."  We have given special attention to our families with   loved ones with special health care needs, including hosting a Complex Needs Support Group (with Children's Hospital Boston), and hosting monthly chats for families through our Down Syndrome Autism Connection Affiliate. 

Teen & Adult Programming
In 2016, we expanded offerings and explored new territory throughout our signature Advocates in Motion Initiatives. AIM youth delved deeply into a Presenting Myself to the World theme, which was carried through monthly AIM Hangouts, AIM Parent Meetings and AIM Socials. Our 16-member Self Advocate Advisory Council (SAAC) planned events for adult peers and took on new projects, like publishing its very first newsletter, written by and for adults with Down syndrome. And, AIM and SAAC collaborated with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on a 4-part financial literacy series.

Education
In 2016, our cutting edge webinars and expert-packed conferences gave 
Born This Way's John Tucker at the 2016 Buddy Walk in Wakefield
teachers and parents the materials they needed to foster inclusive, forward-thinking educational environments. Our 12th Educators Forum in November was over-capacity and our Educator's Guide has sold over 1,200 copies nationwide. 
 
Public Awareness
On Oct. 9, 2016, we celebrated 20 years of our signature Buddy Walk & Family Festival in Wakefield. It may have been the rainiest Buddy Walk in our history but our collective spirits were not dampened. And our regional walks - the Buddy Walk by the Sea and Buddy Walk & Harvest Fair - both moved to new locations and saw tremendous growth that bodes well for the future of our community throughout the state.   
On to 2017, Strategic Plan Year 2 
Delving into ambitious 5-year blueprint

The Board of Directors-approved 5-year Strategic Plan that provides an ambitious blueprint for the MDSC through 2020 got off to a strong start in 2016, laying the groundwork for the work ahead.  Because of your steadfast support, we  had a tremendous real-world impact, improving the lives of people with Down syndrome throughout the state. 

Now, in 2017, our Management Team will be delving into the plan, working on directives that will expand our resources, programs and advocacy. We'll design a program and services model to serve individuals and families across the lifespan; build a community that fosters and sustains a sense of belonging; and increase capacity to ensure that the MDSC has a sustainable financial foundation for the future.

See our 2016 to 2020 Strategic Plan in its entirety  here.
Support Group Leader Retreat
Ensuring families have local supports and resources

The MDSC is committed to ensuring that families and individuals with Down syndrome have the local supports and resources they need.  That's why, for the past three years, we have brought together more than two dozen leaders in the Down syndrome community from across the state for our annual Support Group Leader Retreat. 

On Feb. 3-4, our support group leaders will gather once again  to share experiences and expertise and strategize about ways to strengthen the Down syndrome support groups across the state. 

These groups play an integral role on the local level, as it is through them that MDSC members are welcomed and supported on a very personal level ~ having the opportunity to meet other families face-to-face, develop meaningful relationships, and share information and resources. The retreat continues to be  a significant event for fostering close collaboration to best meet the needs of families across the state. Find out more about MDSC supports on our website
Developing 2017 Legislative Platform 
Priority Bills to be Highlighted at Annual Advocacy Day 
 
Having made statewide advocacy a hallmark in recent years, t he MDSC has quickly established itself as a leader in disability policy. Already, we have helped move a number of pieces of legislation that are changing lives for the better- the Down Syndrome Information Act, Real Lives Bill, National Background Check Bill, and the most recently passed Organ Transplant Bill. 

With the help of our Government Affairs Committee, we will be reviewing the full range of disability-related bills filed at the State House and will select the top priorities for improving the lives of our loved ones with Down syndrome. 

We will continue to push for An Act Creating Higher Education Opportunities for Students with Intellectual Disabilities, Autism, and other Developmental Disabilities (HD456, sponsored by Rep. Haddad, Rep Garballey in the House; SD931, sponsored by Sen. L'Italien in the Senate) as one of our top priorities.

A critical element of our legislative success has been connecting with legislators, sharing our personal stories and challenges. And  one of the most effective vehicles for doing this has been through our annual Down Syndrome Advocacy Day at the State House.  On May 9, 2017, we will hold our 4th Annual Advocacy Day, once again at the Grand Staircase of the State House, 

Please save the date, plan to join us and consider bringing any loved ones with Down syndrome, including children. Our Down Syndrome Advocacy Day not only provides a real world civics lesson, but for a few hours' effort can result in real change for people with Down syndrome. 

We'll also be sending a strong delegation to the National Down Syndrome Society's Buddy Walk on Washington on April 4-5 where we will work with leaders across the nation to advocate for national policies that will ensure that individuals with Down syndrome and their families don't lose access to critical benefits that are needed to lead inclusive fulfilling lives. There is no better time than now year to let our voices be heard on Capitol Hill. If you are interested in attending, please contact us at timetospeakout@mdsc.org.  
Our New Theme - Count Me In!
Raising awareness in 2017


Educating the public in Massachusetts about the possibilities and potential of all people with Down syndrome remains the MDSC's number one purpose as decided  by the MDSC Board of Directors. 

By raising awareness and educating the public about what life with Down syndrome is really like, we will make significant strides in achieving full acceptance and inclusion. 

With that in mind, we are proud to announce our theme for 2017 - "Count Me In!" 

Our community includes individuals with the full spectrum of interests and abilities, people of all different cultures and backgrounds, individuals with unique viewpoints and personalities. What ties us together? Ultimately, all people with Down syndrome and their families want to be COUNTED and deserve to be INCLUDED.

COUNT ME IN!

We are positive. We are diverse. We are accepting. Throughout the year - at our Annual Conference (see below), on our Social Networks and at our three Buddy Walk throughout the state, we'll be telling the world to "Count Me In!" and we invite you to help  us bring our 2017 theme to life this year:
  • Make your voice COUNT
  • Let your friends, neighbors, teachers and legislators know that we're COUNTING on them
  • Help us COUNT the progress we've made over the years (and consider how much further we have to go)
  • Join us as we COUNT up to our 33rd Annual Conference, our 4th Annual Advocacy Day, our 21st Buddy Walk & Family Festival, etc.
Together, we'll help the world understand the math that really COUNTS - that the 3rd copy of the 21st chromosome that defines Down syndrome adds up to a better world for everyone.

REGISTRATION OPENING SOON
33rd Annual Conference on March 25
Help Us Bring New Theme to Life


Each spring, hundreds of people with Down syndrome, their family members, health care professionals and educators from across New England attend our Annual Conference. Participants gather to hear the latest research findings and important information from national and local experts on a range of topics related to Down syndrome. 

Do we have a lineup for you at our 33rd Annual Conference on March 25 at the DCU Center in Worcester! 

Self Advocate Performers/Keynote Address featuring 
  • Graham Campbell, Pianist
  • Sindrome Down Folklore Latino Dance Troop
  • Collete Divitto, Owner, Collettey's Cookies, Featured on CBS Nightly News and Good Morning America
Customized Tracks
  • General Session Workshops
  • Self-Advocate Workshops
  • Brothers and Sisters Workshops
  • Education Workshops
Awards Luncheon/ Self Advocate Extravaganza
At the Awards Luncheon portion of our Annual Conference, we are proud honor those individuals who have made a significant impact on the Down syndrome community. The MDSC presents  four awards during the luncheon:
  • Media Award
  • Educator of the Year Award 
  • Leadership Awards
  • Allen Crocker Award of Excellence 
  • Employer Award
Nominate someone you know here, and see below for more details. 

Annual Meeting
Get an overview of the MDSC's work over the last year and the latest updates of what we have in store. The Annual Meeting is at 8 a.m. in Room A of the DCU Center. All are welcome to attend, and a special breakfast is included. 

Diversity Breakfast
MDSC will host a Diversity Breakfast that morning for culturally diverse families from 7:45 - 8:45am in the 2nd floor lounge area of the DCU Center. 

"Count Me In" Video featuring your photos
It was become MDSC tradition to unveil at our Annual Conference awards luncheon our official video on our theme featuring your photos. So send us your "Count Me In"  photos that bring our theme to life.

Email your hi-resolution photo to countmein@mdsc.org. Feel free to  include  your loved one's name, age, hometown and Count Me In story that we may share on our Facebook page. 

So mark your calendars for our 33rd Annual Conference on March 25 for a day of learning and celebration! (Registration will open soon! Stay tuned to our website or Facebook  page.) 
MDSC Awards  Nominations Open

Each year the MDSC honors persons who have celebrated the rich accomplishments of people with Down syndrome. All awards are presented at the MDSC Annual Conference, this year on Saturday, March 25.

Employer Award
Presented to an individual or company who is an exemplary employer in creating a welcoming, inclusive work environment for individuals with Down syndrome and/or other disabilities. Employers of the Year recognize the inherent value that people with Down syndrome can bring to the workforce and act as role models for other employers to emulate. They are open-minded, humane and show a desire to think outside the box to create a positive collaborative working relationship with their employee(s) with disabilities, which is beneficial for both parties.   Submit nomination

Media Award
Presented to a person or company who exemplifies the MDSC's mission to disseminate up-to-date information about Down syndrome. Submit nomination

Outstanding Educator Award
Presented to an educator in Massachusetts who has significantly contributed to ensuring that students with Down syndrome are given every opportunity to maximize their full potential.  Submit nomination

Allen C. Crocker Award of Excellence
The highest award offered by the MDSC to the person who most advances the Down syndrome movement. The Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress established the Allen C. Crocker Award of Excellence in recognition of Dr. Crocker's many years of nurturing individuals with Down syndrome and their families throughout their life's journey.  Submit nomination

Join Us

 

MDSC Events 

From major events like our Annual Conference, Advocacy Day, Educators Forum and Buddy Walks to our more intimate gatherings like New Family Socials, Grandparents Support Groups, DADS Meetings and Full Life Ahead Transition workshops , we've got something for everyone. Go to our MDSC.org calendar for a full listing. 
 

Get Involved 

The MDSC has become one of the strongest Down syndrome organizations in the country because so many of our dedicated parents, professionals, self-advocates and others are involved in helping us to achieve our mission. You, too, can get involved in so many ways. It takes all of us working together to make the most impact possible.  

 

Join a Committee

Consider joining one of our many Committees or Advisory Councils:

  • Government Affairs Committee
  • Public Awareness Committee
  • AIM Advisory Council
  • First Call Advisory Council
  • Medical & Scientific Advisory Council
  • Buddy Walk Committee
  • Hockey Game Committee
  • Business Advisory Council
Go here for more information about each of these opportunities to become involved in a meaningful way to drive our mission and promote the acceptance and inclusion of all individuals with Down syndrome in Massachusetts and beyond. 

Other Ways to Be an Active MDSCer
In Closing.... 

 

We look forward to an exciting journey with you in 2017 with more opportunities than ever before for our community.  

 

We want to be here for you and your family so please reach out to us anytime we can be of assistance. Thank you for all you have done to make the MDSC what it is today. Together we will continue to push the envelope to ensure that all people with Down syndrome have opportunities to lead inclusive fulfilling lives in the community.

  

 

Sincerely,  

 

 

 

 

 

Maureen Gallagher, Executive Director 

Like us on Facebook View our profile on LinkedIn  Follow us on Twitter  View our videos on YouTube