Diversity and Inclusion

The Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati embraces values, policies, and practices to ensure that all individuals with Down syndrome and their families are represented by the organization and treated with dignity and respect.  The DSAGC makes this commitment with equal care, consideration, and opportunity for people of all races, ethnicities, national origins, ages, genders, sexual orientations, identities, incomes, geographic locations, special health care needs, citizenships, languages, philosophies, or religions.

The diversity of our entire community strengthens the DSAGC.  The wide array of skills, qualities, attributes, and backgrounds of individuals with Down syndrome and their families defines who we are and helps fulfill our mission.  We recognize, value, and act upon the range of perspectives, voices, and experiences of the individuals and families we serve.

The DSAGC honors the uniqueness of each individual.  We work continually for inclusiveness in all our programs and services, to promote understanding and respect, and to celebrate diverse backgrounds.

The DSAGC strives to meet this commitment by:

  • Designing programs and services that address the needs of everyone we serve;
  • Improving access and inclusion for all who need our programs and services;
  • Seeking to recruit diverse leaders, stakeholders, employees, volunteers, vendors, and presenters;
  • Celebrating the diversity of our community in organizational materials;
  • Engaging with and actively seeking to be informed by the communities we serve; and
  • Encouraging participation from all communities we serve.

How to be an Ally

Written for friends of the DSAGC with significant narrative from Crystal Johnson

We hope this information will supply you with resources that will enable you to become a better ally and community member to all communities. The following is an overview intended to help us all understand what it is to be an ally with practical ways to create community through Allyship. We hope you read, share and put some of it into practice.

(1) LISTEN—intentionally listen to support others

Active listening is an essential pillar of Allyship. Hispanics in the U.S. come from all different backgrounds—not a single experience is the same. Often, Hispanics are lumped into one group because of initial assumptions. As friends to those with Down syndrome this is sounds all too familiar. While there are many similarities with those that are Hispanic, there are plenty of differences in language, culture, appearance, and behavior. Take time to listen. Make it a point to practice active listening (playing back what you heard, asking about details or clarifications) and encourage others to listen too by actively inviting them into conversations.

(2) LEARN—Use informal research to learn

Spend at least 2 hours a month reading or watching programs that include diverse characters or subject matters. In addition, encourage conversations with neighbors, friends, and colleagues including those in leadership roles. This may help with more action and outcomes for increased diversity representation and inclusion in many ways.

(3) EMPATHIZE—Build quality relationships through empathy

Relationships can take many names such as neighbor, teacher, co-worker, mentee/mentor, etc. Checking in can be very different depending on your relationship status, but regardless, checking in can instill confidence in the person’s feelings or inclusion/care, mental health and establishes you as an ally. Authentic relationships result in great opportunities to discuss tough subjects, make progress on projects, or get honest feedback. Simply listening to concerns can strengthen bonds.

(4) ENGAGE—consistently engage in diverse events

Many organizations and companies have groups and gatherings for diverse backgrounds. Reach out and ask when you can attend the next event, whether it be in-person or virtual. Learn about the experiences shared and topics discussed. How can you help? Is there any opportunity you can lend your talents? Even just attending allows you to engage with a different group and can change your perspective—be aware of how you feel in a meeting or room with others who don’t look or speak like you. Ask yourself honestly how you felt and empathize with others who experience this every day.

(5) ACT—proactively act as an up stander.

If you notice an individual getting talked over or not having a chance to speak, give them the platform they deserve. Even if they have not attempted to speak, they may have something good to say but don’t feel comfortable doing so. Do you notice someone struggling with pronunciations? Jump in and affirm them by letting them know speaking two languages is not easy and you admire. Make it a priority to create an inclusive environment, where it is encouraged to appreciate different cultures.

(6) ASK—you can always help, just ask how

For Allyship to succeed, all community members need to feel that their input and feedback will be heard, reviewed, and applied wherever possible. Simply asking “How’s it going? Anything I can help with?” can spark a conversation of interest or struggle. Community members that are confident in their environment will grow individually, be more productive and contribute proportionately. If you notice someone is not speaking up, not participating in conversations, or attending in person events, it is okay to ask in a one-on-one setting: "Do you feel included?

(7) ADVOCATE—the best way to advocate is through action

For underrepresented communities to grow, allies are crucial. The old saying 'you don’t get what you don’t ask for’ applies more so today than ever before. In many cases it’s not a lack of advocacy, but a lack of creativity and intentional actions. Regardless of whether you are a community leader, manager, or an individual contributor, advocating plays a major role in progressing communities’ diversity and inclusion journey. The best way to advocate is through action.

(8) COMMIT—Make Diversity and Inclusion a personal commitment

Include Diversity and Inclusion in your home and in your career development goals. Some examples can include: (1) Partner with a co-worker to help each other to learn new skill sets and allow you both to gain a new perspective, and it will naturally foster a personal relationship with someone outside your usual group. (2) Volunteer with groups outside of your usual norm (3) Subscribe to social media groups or join local groups to be involved in the ongoing conversation about diversity in your community. (4) Lastly, if you’re in the position of influence, be intentional about having a diverse group around you and build a network you are proud of being a part.

Moving Forward

Create a habit of Allyship, not a checklist for limited goals. As you read this, we hope you noticed that being an ally is no different than being a great leader, friend, or co-worker. Be intentional with your actions, not calculated. Lift others up and you will be too.