Gallery 21 celebrates people with Down syndrome

Gallery 21 celebrates people with Down syndrome

World Down Syndrome Day was Tuesday and the Madison Area Down Syndrome Society celebrated through art.

MADSS unveiled Gallery 21 at the Madison Club, featuring photography and original artwork to celebrate beauty and promote acceptance of people with the condition. This is the first time Gallery 21 has appeared in Madison in six years.

MADSS works to support families that receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome, equipping parents to be able to raise their children to the best of their ability.

Stephanie Formo, family support coordinator for the Madison Area Down Syndrome Society said families with a child newly diagnosed with the condition are immediately connected to support from other families. “That way any questions they have, any fears they have, get answered in a timely manner, which we feel is really critical,” Formo said.

Formo attended the gallery six years ago with her daughter and wanted to bring it back to the community. “It was really a step in a direction that allowed me to see Down syndrome in a different way. I could visually see pictures of children growing up with Down syndrome and having a happy life full of love and friendship,” Formo said.

“And it lessened my fears… it stopped me from worrying,” Formo added.

The gallery is meant to connect the community with Down syndrome and show people what it really looks like.
According to the CDC, Down syndrome is the most common chromosomal condition. It affects about one in every 700 babies born in the United States.

“So often when people get a diagnosis of Down syndrome, the image in their mind is this really scary image,” Formo said. “We were hoping to replace that image with some of these pictures that you see today and show that it’s not that scary.”

The gallery will travel to different parts of the Madison area, including the Capitol, the Fitchburg Library and the UW – Madison School of Nursing.