An Open Letter to the World Down Syndrome Day Committee About The "Odd Socks" Campaign

Dear World Down Syndrome Day Committee,

Last year was the first year that March 21st was officially recognized as World Down syndrome Day. March 21st. 3/21, 3 copies of the 21st chromosome: Down syndrome. How clever! I loved that. It made me glow with satisfaction.

I wish I could say I feel the same way about the theme you are implementing this year, “Odd Socks.” As I understand it, we are supposed to wear different socks on each foot, which will get people talking and stuff. You say on your site,

 Remember, socks may be different, but they are all socks, and they can be worn together if people accept and welcome the difference!

I have some questions about all of this:

  • What if you live in a warm place and are not even wearing socks?
  • Heck, even if you are in a cold place, who is going to look down and start noticing your socks? Which will most likely be covered by your shoes/boots/pants?
  • Who cares if you wear mismatched socks?

and the most glaring question of all,


I’d say that Down syndrome (as a disability) has had more than it’s share of prejudice; any campaign using the word “odd” as a part of an awareness/celebration endeavor might be a campaign that needs to wake up and take a long swig of coffee.

 In my opinion, March 21st doesn’t even need a theme.

It doesn’t need to be anything other than World Down syndrome Day. That’s celebration enough, that the international Down syndrome community has a date that is meaningful and is shared with Spring Equinox and Naw Ruz. A date that is recognized by the United Nations and will hopefully be recognized by governments world wide. World Down syndrome Day is in and of itself a celebration of our community, the power of our community to affect change, and most importantly, a celebration of the presence of those who have trisomy of the 21st chromosome. A celebration of their lives and the bright diversity they bring with them to our world.

 Let’s do that. Let’s celebrate.

And leave the socks out of it. We don’t need them.

I, for one, am pretty sure my girl will be barefoot


Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Meriah Nichols



is a deaf blogger, global nomad, tech-junkie, cat-lover, Trekkie, Celto-Teutonic-peasant-handed mom of 3 (one with Down syndrome and one gifted 2E).
She likes her coffee black and hot.
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  • Yep, I agree 100%. No theme. Especially not a silly, misplaced one like this. I will observe World Down Syndrome Day like I’ve observed it in the past.

  • What in the world???? Were there any parents on this committee? Why would this ever be a good idea? PS- Joey won’t be wearing any socks either since he takes his off every morning. 🙂 Great letter!!!

  • I definitely here your concern. I believe their term “odd” was referring to it in a mathematical sense. Most humans have an even pair of 21st chromosomes, but people with Ds have an “odd” set of 21st chromosomes.

    The pejorative context certainly makes it a bit awkward, but I like the idea of having a visual symbol that can start some conversations and education.

    File it under a good idea with poor execution.

  • I just wanted to say thank you for doing this letter. I had no idea about the whole “theme” idea… I see they’ve changed their word selecion but I’m still with you, we already have a theme: Down syndrome!

  • It’s not about wearing different socks because your child is “different”,I have a son with Down’s syndrome and we don’t see or treat him as any different from his two sisters,we treat them all as the individuals that they are.wearing odd socks is about getting people to talk ie: when people ask you why you’re wearing odd socks you can then explain what it’s for and maybe even educate some people about the syndrome.I think it’s a brilliant idea and I’m hoping to get as many people involved as possible,me and the rest of my family will all be definitely wearing odd socks.

    • I’m glad that since you are so enthused by the sock theme that you live in a culture and climate that supports talking about socks that right there on display! Good for you.
      Me, I’m just going to stick with 3-21.

  • Please stop the socks. It is not nor ever will be a symbol of acceptance, concern, and discussion about down syndrome.

    Who thought of this? Did you not think about the consequences– “I wore colorful, mismatched and 3 socks for you today”,says a child to a down child?! How abusive. Sounds like a bully!

    There are numerous alternatives for fundraisers, not socks. As a family with a down syndrome child, please stop.

  • Greetings from Texas! I’d be interested to hear if these are still your thoughts on the mismatched sock campaign (4 years later). I do agree on your opinion on the use of the word “odd”. I do like that their is a visual cue to get people to ask about the different socks, which could, I suppose, by supplemented or replaced with a blue & yellow ribbon on a lapel, a bracelet or even a necklace with something that refers to DS. All good conversation. Hope you have a pleasant WDSD2017.

    • Thank you.
      4 years later, and I think a part of me feels even worse about it all as it is so clear what an incredible waste of money this is (sending socks to other countries?) when there is so much that can be done, with regard to research, advocacy and care. There are free ways to celebrate Down syndrome, and also ways that have nothing to do with foot garments (which in most areas, mine included, would never even be seen at that time of year anyway).
      I hope you have a pleasant WDSD17 too!

  • I like the Odd Socks idea. It’s a conversation starter on 3/21. Conversations lead to awareness and awareness leads to more people getting involved. The company I work for (500+ employees) is doing “Odd Sock Day” this year on 3/21 in recognition of Down Syndrome Day. It is a free, simple and fun way to get people involved that otherwise would be going about their normal day none the wiser. I don’t see any value in poo-pooing the Odd Sock practice. Put simply, I’m much more interested in supporting this little girl ( than I am in supporting you wagging your finger at the Down Syndrome Committee because you don’t support their Odd Sock initiative. Enjoy your bare feet next week, I suppose…

    • I remained stunned that Down syndrome is being associated with “odd” – and that footgear is being chosen as the vehicle for the celebration. Chloe is absolutely adorable… and do you really think she came up with the concept, or that it’s all so close to her 5 year old heart? I think you know that the answer is, “no”. Chloe would have made a video for her mother or community if they were touting the Random Acts of Kindness that the IDSC was using to celebrate Down syndrome!
      I like that a lot better, and it makes more sense to me, frankly.
      But I”m not fighting this – to each his own. That post was written when the campaign first came out, 3 or 4 years ago. The one thing I will not do – where I draw the line at – is in promoting it, because, as I said, I won’t support using the word “odd” with “Down syndrome” and I won’t support using footgear as a means of celebrating my daughter’s extra chromosome.

      • I totally understand your dislike for the use of the word “odd” and I certainly hope that word wasn’t used with any malicious intent. 3 is an odd number as is 21 but I don’t think that is the purpose behind the word either. I think the word just rolls off of the tongue more easily than “mismatched.” Odd Sock Day vs. Mismatched Sock Day.

        I can’t speak to whether Odd Sock Day holds any special value to Chloe but of course she didn’t come up with the concept or record the video.

  • I also agree with Meriah.Odd socks is not something I want as a theme for Down syndrome.The meaning behind it may be good but the theme chosen is not.We are all the same yet different ,no one is odd.Why don’t the society chose a badge we can wear the same as other charities,Do you really think a stranger will ask why your wearing odd socks,or worse they’ll go. Ahhhhhh look the child with Down syndrome is wearing odd socks.A badge informs them what the society is about and they can buy a badge and then find out the details.This idea sounds like an idea an advertising company has come up with after being paid by the Down syndrome society. What about a badge of two hands holding meaning we’re all together in this world

  • I completely agree with you. I find such awareness campaigns offensive. My son has autism, and Autism Canada has an Inside-Out for Autism campaign that encourages people to wear their shirts inside out. Ugh. So horrid.

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