Last month, the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate proclaimed March 15th Adult Down Syndrome Awareness Day in Illinois, the first state to create this particular awareness day.  A group from the Adult Down Syndrome Center at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge traveled to the state Capitol for the occasion, where they watched the proclamation being read into the official record and met with state legislators.  The adults with Down syndrome present helped to make the announcement about the proclamation and also had a chance to share their stories with members of the General Assembly.  The Resolution also recognizes the contributions of the Adult Down Syndrome Center and mentions NADS’ role in the Center’s founding.  Resolution sponsors include Chief Sponsor, Representative Elaine Nekritz, Representative Mike McAuliffe, and Senator John Mulroe.   The full text of the proclamation can be found below and on the Illinois government website  here.

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WHEREAS, Approximately one in every 700 babies in the United States is born with Down syndrome, making Down syndrome the most common chromosomal condition and about 6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born in the United States each year; and

WHEREAS, The lives of people with Down syndrome have been transformed over the past half century; as recently as the early 1980s, the average life span of those with Down syndrome was 25 years; today, the life expectancy is approximately 60 years; and

WHEREAS, The length and quality of life of those with Down syndrome have been transformed; today, many adults with Down
syndrome live semi-independently or even on their own, leading healthy and productive lives, complete with jobs, volunteer work, recreational activities, and personal relationships; and

WHEREAS, The Adult Down Syndrome Center of Advocate Medical Group at Advocate Lutheran General was established in 1992 at the request of leaders of the National Association for Down Syndrome (NADS) who desired a clinic for adults with Down syndrome; the hospital took a leap of faith and assigned Brian Chicoine, MD, the newest faculty member in the Family Medicine department, to help launch a practice; and

WHEREAS, The Center began a twice-a-month clinic that served less than 100 patients; today, it has grown into a five-day-a-week primary care practice providing approximately 7,000 patient visits annually, making it the busiest and most experienced clinic of its kind in the nation, as well as a leader in research, education, and the dissemination; and

WHEREAS, For the past 25 years, the Center has been dedicated to its mission of enhancing the well-being of adolescents and adults with Down syndrome using a team approach to provide comprehensive, community-based health care services; it is guided by three principles: 1) health is more than the absence of disease; it involves physical, mental, and spiritual well-being; 2) individuals with Down syndrome should become active participants in their health care; and 3) research, health-promoting education, and the dissemination of research findings and best practices in health promotion will improve care for people with Down syndrome and foster understanding, acceptance, and inclusion; and

WHEREAS, Dr. Chicoine is supported by a talented staff of medical professionals, including a physician, registered and licensed dietitian, nurse practitioner, licensed clinical social worker, licensed occupational therapist, two patient advocates, three certified medical assistants, patient representative, clinical coordinator, and practice manager; and

WHEREAS, Compared to the general population, adults with Down syndrome experience greater incidence of congenital heart abnormalities, thyroid problems, obesity, type-1 diabetes, vision problems, hearing loss, and Alzheimer’s disease; they also experience less common conditions such as heart attacks, high blood pressure, solid cancer tumors, and strokes; the Center’s patient database has the potential to be instrumental in unlocking these mysteries; and

WHEREAS, In addition to medical care, the Center’s programs focus on health promotion and psychosocial skills, training to help individuals with Down syndrome lead healthy and productive lives; the Center disseminates health promotion resources and research findings through collaborations, publications, and events that communicate the experience and findings of the initiative to people with Down syndrome, their families, and health care professionals; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDREDTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we declare March 15, 2017 as Adult Down Syndrome Awareness Day in the State of Illinois; and be it further

RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be presented to the Adult Down Syndrome Center of Advocate Medical Group at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital as an expression of our esteem and respect.

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