The Central Mississippi Down Syndrome Society (CMDSS) was established in July 2003. Its first project was the 1st Annual Central Mississippi Buddy Walk held in October 2003. More than 500 people turned out to show their support of individuals with Down syndrome. It was an overwhelming success and showed the tremendous need for an advocacy organization for people with Down syndrome and their families. A very active group of parents have united together to share ideas, offer emotional support, provide educational information, and to actively promote a positive image of people with Down syndrome in our community.
Each year more than 1,000 supporters walk in the CMDSS Buddy Walk in an amazing show of community support.
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder that can affect people of all ages, races and economic levels. It is the most frequently occurring chromosomal abnormality, occurring once in approximately every 733 live births. Down syndrome occurs at conception when a third (extra) number 21 chromosome is present, instead of the usual set of two. This additional genetic material significantly alters cognitive and physical development resulting in mental retardation and the increased possibility of a host of health-related issues or abnormalities.
Our award winning New Parent Guide is considered our crown jewel. One universal issue that parents had expressed is that irrespective of who their doctor was, or what hospital their child was born in, there was little support or information readily available to assist them through what was one of the most profoundly life altering and emotional events in their lives. The Parent Guide is a full-color guide jam-packed with information to help any new parent get started whether they receive the diagnosis pre-natal or at birth. It includes the answers to many immediate questions, parent testimonials, and Central Mississippi resource information. The Parent Guide has been distributed to all hospitals in Central Mississippi that deliver babies, as well as to area obstetricians so that new parents and parents-to-be can receive vitally important information at diagnosis.
More than 1500 copies of our outstanding calendars are printed and distributed each year. The calendars have become a community tradition and are in great demand because they illustrate the beauty our children, teens and adults with Down syndrome.
This project was such a success; we will continue it in coming years. CMDSS has also established a lending library of books and videotapes on a variety of topics relating to Down syndrome that parents can check out without having to purchase.
CMDSS is a quickly growing organization with more than 300 families from all over Central Mississippi. We are reaching out to new and existing families through word of mouth, the media, local disability resources, and healthcare providers.