March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day. In Waterloo Region, a local photographer, Hilary Gauld, has partnered with the World Down Syndrome Society to bring more awareness with a photography initiative called 'Love Means'.
This project aims to show love stories that inspire, educate and create space for greater visibility.
The executive director of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society said there is a very unique meaning why March 21 was chosen.
"To mark the day, it is the 21st day of the third month. It is selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplicaton of the 21 chromosome which causes down syndrome." said Laura LaChance.
Krystal Nausbaum, a participant of the campaign, said it was a very memorable day. She was able to spend the day taking pictures with her girlfriend.
"We wall want to be noticed. We all have our voices and thoughts, which matters," Nausbaum said.
The photo series depicts a love within the Down syndrome community. LaChance added the community has been excluded from conversations around neuro-diversity, gender identity, expression, sexuality. This project aims to bring awareness and change perceptions.
There is still is stigma around the subject, and LaChance adds it must be broken.
"It's myth-busting. It's assumption-busting that people with down syndrome don't experience this kind of love. We are glad to show that our community does experience a whole life, including all the ranges of emotion and love."
"Love means acceptance, respect. It doesn't matter the gender. What matters is the personality, the love, care, and support."