In 1981, a vision for a more inclusive world for people with Down syndrome was ignited in Mexico City. Sylvia Escamilla, the founder and president of Fundación John Langdon Down, organized the first World Down Syndrome Congress, bringing together representatives from more than 25 countries.

The Congress was a groundbreaking event, providing a platform for people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocates to share their stories, learn from each other, and develop strategies for promoting inclusion and full participation in society.

Speakers at the Congress included Dr. Pueshel, Professor Jérôme Lejeune, and Dr. Smith, leading experts on Down syndrome at the time. Their insights and perspectives helped to shape the understanding of Down syndrome and inform the work of advocates around the world.

The success of the first World Down Syndrome Congress inspired the organizers to establish an international network to support organizations working to improve the lives of people with Down syndrome. Jo Mills (Canada), Penny Robertson (Australia), and Sylvia Escamilla (Mexico) began work on forming the constitution of this new organization, later joined by representatives from Europe and Asia.

In 1993, Down Syndrome International (DSi) was founded, marking a new era of global collaboration and advocacy for people with Down syndrome.

A Legacy of Inspiration

The first World Down Syndrome Congress was a watershed moment in the history of the Down syndrome community. It was a gathering of minds and hearts, united in a common goal: to create a better world for people with Down syndrome.

The vision ignited at that first Congress has continued to burn brightly over the years. Thanks to the tireless efforts of advocates around the world, people with Down syndrome are now living more fulfilling and inclusive lives than ever before.

But the work is not done. DSi and its partners continue to fight for the rights and inclusion of people with Down syndrome in all aspects of society. Together, we can create a world where everyone belongs.