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Humans are certainly not an endangered species, but a group of people in Canada are sounding the alarm of being at risk.

Those with Down syndrome are appealing to be the first humans to be added to the endangered species list, and the stars of the spots make a compelling argument for their protective status.

In some countries, such as the US, there have been 30% fewer people born with Down syndrome than projected, and in a few countries, that number is approaching zero. Because of this, the Down syndrome community has less of a voice in the world today, resulting in a lack of housing, education, and funding for a community that desperately needs support. 

The Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS) is applying to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the organization that manages the Red List of Threatened Species, to have people with Down syndrome become the first humans to ever be included, in an effort to advocate for similar kinds of funding, protections, government intervention, and public awareness that species on the Endangered List receive.

To promote the movement, the campaign includes a series of videos and print ads featuring people with Down syndrome representing endangered species. People dressed up as lions, sea turtles, pandas, and rhinos state their respective cases for their designation with lines like, “A lion can roar for help. I can only ask,” and “Just as fierce. Just as endangered.” The delivery is designed to raise awareness of the issues they face.

The campaign was created pro-bono by Toronto-based agency FCB Canada.

The CDSS timed the Endangered Syndrome campaign to coincide with Canadian Down Syndrome Week from November 1-7.

“You may not think about it, but the reality is that people with Down syndrome face far more challenges than most of us, and they need more support than they’re getting. Whether it's underfunded support programs for education, higher rates of unemployment, extended wait-lists for appropriate housing, or even just negative public perception and stigma, the challenges faced by people with Down syndrome aren’t decreasing — they’re increasing,” said Laura LaChance, board chair of CDSS.

“As a parent of an infant with Down syndrome, being a part of this campaign is important not only in raising awareness, but also in creating change to ensure my daughter and other people with Down syndrome live healthy, happy, and productive lives,” added Kylie Samson, mother of six-month-old Ava, who appears dressed as an endangered sea turtle in the campaign. 

The campaign is supported by candid interviews with parents, people living with Down syndrome, and experts that serve to deepen the dialogue surrounding the challenges people in the Down syndrome community face. The campaign also includes posters, billboards, and pre-roll videos directing people to EndangeredSyndrome.com, where the public can get more information, support the application to the IUCN, spread the message, and donate to the CDSS so people with Down syndrome can live their best, protected lives.

“We wanted to find a provocative way to raise awareness around the need for funding and support for this incredible group of people,” says Nancy Crimi-Lamanna, chief creative officer of FCB Canada. “We are proud to be partners with CDSS in this effort and hope the outcome is more protection for people living with Down syndrome.”

'Endangered Syndrome' is The Canadian Down Syndrome Society’s latest campaign launched in support of the community, following the globally awarded and highly acclaimed 'Down Syndrome Answers' and 'Anything but Sorry' initiatives launched in 2016 and 2017. 

See the spots by clicking on the Creative Works box below.

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