October 2012 marks the return of National Down Syndrome Awareness Month to the United States.

Video: National Buddy Walk PSA

The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) was instrumental in establishing this month of awareness over thirty years ago in concert with it’s mission to be national advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.

Since 1995, NDSS has added to the annual celebration through the National Buddy Walk Program, which seeks to spread the NDSS mission on the local level with over 250 Walks expected in 2012. Last year, over 285,000 people participated in Buddy Walks throughout the country, which together raised over $11 million for local and national initiatives.

The Buddy Walk is supported by some great celebrities who lend their talent to the program local and nationally.

  • The National Buddy Walk PSA stars TV Hosts Nancy O'Dell and Meredith Vieira, Actor and NDSS Goodwill Ambassador Chris Burke, Actress and Self-Advocate Andrea Friedman and Actor John C McGinley.
  • Emmy-award winning children’s TV stars, the Imagination Movers, have participated in a new Buddy Walk video for the 2012 season. The Movers will also be promoting select Buddy Walks that take place along their 2012 Rock-O-Matic fall tour.
  • Bestselling author, restaurateur and Emmy Award-winning Food Network television star Paula Deen will be participating as Grand Marshal of the Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society’s Buddy Walk in Savannah Georgia.

“People with Down syndrome are capable of achieving and advancing in so many ways, they just need the opportunity. Thanks to organizations like NDSS, I see them getting that chance to share with the world the abundance they have to offer and I hope that opportunity grows every day,” says Entertainment Tonight Co-Host Nancy O’Dell, who stars in the National Buddy Walk PSA. The PSA will air nationwide at all Regal Entertainment Group theaters from October 1 – 14.

NDSS recently relaunched its website, which now features improved design and offers a more user-friendly experience. In honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, NDSS invites everyone to visit the site, learn from and share its up-to-date resources.

  • NDSS offers a Down syndrome fact page and preferred language guide to learn about Down syndrome and how to speak properly about people who have it.
  • My Great Story, the largest NDSS public awareness campaign, aims to ignite a new way of thinking about people with Down syndrome by sharing stories written by and about them. All are invited to share a story or vote and comment on those already in the collection. There is a section exclusively for Buddy Walk stories and there will be a Down Syndrome Awareness Month section added in October.
  • Each year, NDSS reminds the world in a big way about the gifts that people with Down syndrome bring to their communities through a special video presentation on a jumbo screen in the heart of the Times Square. This year over 200 photos were chosen from over 1,000 submissions to be a part of the Times Square Video. It will air on the morning of the NDSS Flagship Buddy Walk in New York City on September 22 and will be posted on our website shortly after.
  • Links to NDSS on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube are available on each page. Follow for the latest updates throughout Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Visitors can also follow Buddy Walk-specific feeds on Facebook and Twitter.
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