Canadian Down Syndrome Society tackles parents’ tough questions

Canadian Down Syndrome Society has launched a new campaign to answer parents’ tough questions about Down syndrome and dispel misconceptions about the condition.

A video series titled “Down Syndrome Answers” features people living with Down syndrome answering the questions most-asked by parents with unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome. The questions range from “Can a person with Down syndrome learn to read?” to “How long does a person with Down syndrome live?”

There are 10 people in the campaign and a total of 38 videos. During Canadian Down Syndrome Week (Nov. 1-7), whenever someone in Canada Googles a question about Down syndrome, a video will appear as a search result.

Ed Casagrande, treasurer at Canadian Down Syndrome Society, said learning that an unborn child has Down syndrome is a confusing and stressful time for parents.

“Often, you’re given a short amount of time to make a decision about whether or not you want to continue with the pregnancy,” he said. “Typically, the information [parents] receive from the medical practitioner is clinical, highlighting what will be wrong with the child. It then becomes a challenge for the parents to get as much information as they can… And they’re on their own to try to get that full picture.”

The videos, which are unscripted, “move away from the clinical and shows the more human, emotional side,” said Casagrande.

Nancy Crimi-Lamanna, chief creative officer at FCB Canada, said when parents turn to Google to ask questions, they also end up with more clinical information from sites like WebMD and Wikipedia. “We just wanted to be there as a resource for those parents to give that other side of the story… And it was finally allowing people who never had a voice to speak up in their words. It’s a very powerful way to give that human side of the story.”

FCB created the campaign pro bono for the Canadian Down Syndrome Society. The videos are hosted on YouTube and on the CDSS website.

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