Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Help us get DS funding!

Here's a fantastic way to celebrate freedom: Vote in the American Express Members Project. Fifty community service proposals are in the running to receive $5 million in funding from AmEx. The current top runner is a Down syndrome awareness proposal initiated by the National Down Syndrome Congress, called "Awareness Can Build A Family." Voting is now underway to select the top 25 proposals; there will be two more rounds of voting, and the winning proposal will be announced on August 7.

Here's the Down syndrome proposal: Awareness Can Build a Family

Yearly, thousands of women are tested to determine if the child they carry has Down syndrome. A positive answer often portrays a bleak future in which their child will impose terrible burdens and dreams die. Many medical professionals have scant knowledge of Down syndrome and are unable to comfort or educate. Their messages tag people with Down syndrome as having no value, implying there is no place for them in our world.

The tragic result: an astonishing 90% of pregnancies involving diagnosis of Down syndrome are terminated. In fact, there is much to celebrate. Children with Down syndrome excel in school, participating in sports and graduating. As adults they live independent, rewarding lives. Ask a parent - you will hear of joy, fulfillment.

My Members Project, "Awareness Can Build a Family," would use public service television, ads, booklets and more to tell that people with Down syndrome are more like all of us than not and are of priceless value. If you agree with all of that, please vote as soon as possible - the first round closes July 15, 2007.

What this proposal doesn't mention is that this year, 4 million American women will be offered first-trimester prenatal testing for Down syndrome, and the majority of them will not receive adequate accompanying education about Down syndrome. If the NDSC's proposal wins the competition, resources like GIFTS will be widely distributed throughout the nation. Imagine this: a copy of the book in every OB/GYN office! It's a very real possibility.

You need to be an AmEx member to vote. Please consider signing up for a card, as I did, so that you can participate. Online application takes one minute, and there's no fee. And what does this have to do with freedom? By voting, you use your power as a citizen to determine how a big chunk of American change is spent. And by choosing "Awareness Can Build A Family," you make it possible for American families to truly exercise their freedom of choice. How so? Any thinking person understands that accurate, current, balanced information is a vital component of decision making. Our nation has determined that women are free to choose whether to terminate pregnancy, but currently the millions of women receiving DS testing lack the education needed to make an informed choice. With with $5 million in funds, the NDSC can help ensure that women choose with the power born of knowledge.

And you can help make that happen. Vote today! And if you're not a member yet, sign up.

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