March 21 marks World Down Syndrome Day, the holiday being on the 21st day of the third month to signify the triplication of the 21st chromosome, which is the cause of Down syndrome, according to the World Down Syndrome Day website.

Whether you know someone with Down syndrome or not, today is a special day with much cause to celebrate. Here’s where the holiday comes from and how you can participate in the celebration.

Why? The World Down Syndrome Day website states that many people with Down syndrome are denied many things that the average person might take for granted such as quality education, good health care, a chance to have a job and earn their own income, autonomy over their lives and even a chance for their voices to be heard.

  • “So, on 21 March we create a single global voice advocating for the rights, inclusion and well being of people with Down syndrome,” the website reads.

With Us Not For Us: This year’s World Down Syndrome Day theme is “With Us Not For Us,” according to the United Nations. This motto aims to take a human-rights-based approach to disability, moving on from the previously held “charity model” idea where people with disabilities were treated as people who were deserving of pity.

  • “A human rights-based approach views people with disabilities as having the right to be treated fairly and have the same opportunities as everyone else, working WITH others to improve their lives,” the U.N. stated.

How to celebrate: One of the most common ways to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day is by wearing funny socks!

  • The idea behind wearing crazy or noticeable socks is to get people to ask about them, and when they do, you say “I’m wearing them to raise awareness of Down syndrome,” according to the group website.
  • Other ways to celebrate involve donating or starting a fundraiser on social media for an organization that supports people with Down syndrome, or even by participating in “Racing for 3.21” by doing some sort of movement for 3.21 miles, the National Down Syndrome Society stated.
  • The morning session of the Down Syndrome International Network campaign at the United Nations is available to watch on the Down Syndrome International website, and viewers can tune in live to watch the afternoon session at 1 p.m. MDT.

History: World Down Syndrome Day was originally launched online by Down Syndrome Association Singapore from 2006-2010 so that Down Syndrome International global activities could be recorded, according to the group’s website.

  • In 2012 the United Nations General Assembly officially declared World Down Syndrome Day to be observed every year on March 21.