By Eileen Haupt
Editor’s note. Eileen Haupt is the mother of a lovely 22-year-old daughter with Down syndrome and co-founder of Keep Infants with Down Syndrome (KIDS)
A powerful video, The Hiring Chain, produced for 2021 World Down Syndrome Day (March 21), features a wonderful song that describes a life-affirming chain reaction kicked off when a baker hires a young woman with Down syndrome.
The Hiring Chain, written by the team at CoorDown, an Italian advocacy organization that promotes acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome, is performed by the world renowned rock star, Sting.
Employees with Down syndrome are shown in the video being hired, all as a consequence of the initial job offer from the Baker. We hear these lyrics, sung by Sting to a catchy tune:
The Baker hired Simone
And everybody saw
That she could do the job.
The Lawyer went to the Baker
And saw Simone at work.
The Lawyer hired John
Because the Baker hired Simone…
And so on, until it comes full circle.
This scenario is a perfect example of how vital it is for people with Down syndrome to be seen and encountered in our world. The more they are known, the more we benefit from their presence and the more we appreciate their unique gifts. And the more they are known, the more they are accepted and the more they benefit from our understanding. You might call it the Circle of Acceptance.
But to be known, they must first be born!
Tragically, abortion takes the lives of thousands of unborn babies with Down syndrome each year. A 2012 study estimates that about 74 percent of babies prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome in the U.S. are aborted. In Europe, the abortion rate is even higher– 90 percent in the U.K., 98 percent in Denmark, and for all practical purposes 100 percent in Iceland.
We must understand, however, that the positive chain reaction, unleashed by our increased exposure to individuals with Down syndrome, beautifully demonstrated in the CoorDown video, can be set off in the opposite direction when our exposure is decreased.
In other words, the fewer of us who know someone with Down syndrome, the fewer of us will be touched by their unique gifts, and the fewer of us who will understand and appreciate them. The fewer of us that understand and appreciate them, the worse off it will be for those who have Down syndrome. In fact, this lack of understanding can, and has led to intolerance toward people with Down syndrome, lethally so when they are at their most vulnerable—in the womb.
Unfortunately, for a myriad of reasons, too many of us may harbor preconceived notions about Down syndrome.
Perhaps, it is because individuals with Down syndrome share common physical features that make their appearance a bit different than those of us who lack that extra 21st chromosome. Or maybe because there is always some level of intellectual disability, we assume that it means they cannot understand or learn or perform a job.
But when we are fortunate enough to have someone with Down syndrome in our families, friend circles, and/or communities, prejudices and biases and stereotypes are challenged. We come to learn there is more to them than meets the eye. We come to appreciate their oftentimes delightful humor, love of people, and ability to perform their jobs well.
Ask any parent of a child born with Down syndrome, and most will tell you that, yes, they initially experienced sadness and fear. However, overwhelmingly, most of those parents will also tell you that their children transformed their sadness into joy and changed their lives for the better.
Emily, a family friend of ours beautifully expressed this reality some years ago when writing about our daughter in a school essay. “With Sadie, I learned first-hand that oftentimes disabled children have the sweetest souls. It is impossible to explain exactly how I learned this. It is a type of knowledge that cannot be passed on by any amount of words, you must learn through experience to fully understand.”
Emily hit the nail on the head!
On CoorDown’s YouTube channel, they write, “By hiring someone with Down syndrome, you start a virtuous chain: the more that people with Down Syndrome are seen at work, the more they’ll be recognized as valuable employees, and the more they’ll be hired. Do your part, start the Hiring Chain today.”
Of course, and more importantly, the same could also be said for bringing a baby with Down syndrome into this world. By one mother choosing Life for her baby, another will also choose Life. And the more babies with Down syndrome born, the more we all benefit from their lives, and the more individuals with Down syndrome will benefit as well. It is a win-win. Start the Hiring Chain!
Do yourself a favor and watch the delightful The Hiring Chain video.