A Georgia McDonalds threw a party for a special longtime employee with an even more special story.
Chris Campbell, who has Down syndrome, just started his 27th year working for the fast food restaurant on March 15, less than a week before World Down Syndrome Day. And it wasn’t an event that his employers took lightly.
Surrounded by his coworkers, friends and family, Campbell celebrated the moment with a party his restaurant, in conjunction with the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta, threw to commemorate his work anniversary. Unfortunately, it’s an occasion that many with Down syndrome never get to see. According to the National Down Syndrome Society, while most with Down syndrome are both willing and able to work, they’re not often given the chance.
"The key to successful employment is to match individuals with Down syndrome with needed skills, tasks and workplace culture – just like any other employment match," the NDSS says. "Like in any population, job seekers with Down syndrome have a range of abilities and personalities."
Speaking with local station WXIA, Campbell said he really enjoys mopping floors and wiping down the tables, but his favorite part of the job is folding the Happy Meals boxes.
Sheryl Arno, the executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Atlanta, attended Campbell’s party, telling USA TODAY the event was even more special because of the massive strides society has taken in accepting those with Down Syndrome as active members of their community rather than embarrassments to be shuttered away in institutions.
Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates the special place those with Down syndrome or other disabilities hold in society, or the amazing things they can do. Iceland, for example, has actually bragged about virtually “eliminating” Down Syndrome from their society – not by curing the condition, but by aborting nearly 100 percent of pre-born babies diagnosed with the condition before they’re ever even given a chance at life.
In the United States, nearly 7 in 10 babies who show markers for Down syndrome are aborted. In many cases, late-term abortions are permitted for babies diagnosed in utero with fetal “abnormalities,” of which Down Syndrome is considered an acceptable reason to terminate.
Still, some states are trying to stop the genocide of those like Chris Campbell, enacting laws that ban abortions strictly on the basis that a child will be born with Down syndrome. Indiana and Ohio have both passed such restrictions, though the measures have so far been blocked by federal courts. In Pennsylvania, some Republican lawmakers are renewing demands for a law making it a felony for doctors to perform abortions based simply on a Down syndrome diagnosis.