MDSC was founded nearly 40 years ago by parents who stood up for the rights of their children with Down syndrome to be included like everyone else in their local schools.
Over the years, the concept of inclusion has remained central to MDSC’s mission, a key component in virtually all our programs, from public awareness to education to teen & adult programming to employment. Our loved ones with Down syndrome must be included in all facets of society to be accepted and have real opportunities.
The notion of Inclusion has also been a beacon guiding our organizational philosophy. As MDSC has grown and evolved, we have sought to serve and represent every single family with a loved one with Down syndrome in Massachusetts and beyond. By promoting equality, diversity, love and respect for ALL members, we are proud of our efforts to unify our wonderfully vast and diverse membership, welcoming all who seek to join our cause.
Still, inequities persist.
As recent events in the country have illustrated, we as a society have a long way to go before people are treated fairly and without prejudice. The horrific killing of George Floyd and others has once again served a stark reminder of our nation’s tragic history of brutal racism against black people and its lethal consequences.
While recognizing that societal transformation is inherently complicated and perhaps unsettling, we are inspired to witness and ally with a Black Lives Matter movement defined by its rightful quest for justice and inclusion. We stand by the tens of thousands of people peacefully joining together to speak up for the Civil Rights of the black community. Their voices can only make our country and world a better place.
At MDSC, we are as committed as ever to our founding ideals of diversity and inclusion.
In recent years, we have held diversity trainings for our MDSC Staff and for the statewide leaders in the Down syndrome community who come together for our Support Group Leader Retreat. Among the support groups we bring together and represent, several are comprised primarily of people of color.
MDSC’s Diversity Outreach Task Force, a group of parents and professionals committed to outreaching to families from culturally diverse backgrounds, meets regularly to explore how to encourage inclusion and remove barriers to participation in MDSC activities. The Task Force builds trust with diverse families, provides support in their primary language, and acts as liaisons between them and MDSC. Throughout the year the Task Force hosts annual diversity events including a potluck dinner, picnic, and a diversity breakfast the morning of our Annual Conference.
Long-term goals related to serving our diverse communities have been spelled out in our last several strategic plans, and we are making strides to diversify our leadership within the organization. We are proud of our track record as a welcoming, accessible community for all families, including communities of color. However, we also realize this is a critical time to take stock and reflect on how we can still improve our diversity efforts.
As we do so, we will be looking to our own diverse membership for guidance and inspiration. We look forward to continuing to unite our members from all backgrounds with determination and resolve as we advocate for critical issues of equity and justice that benefit not only people with Down syndrome, but our entire society. As our collective journey towards a better world unfolds, we are grateful to be part of a community that inherently values above all else diversity and inclusion.