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celebrations (32)

Autism Awareness on the Neighborhood

autism society poster with a red blue teal and yellow painted handApril is Autism Awareness Month! Join us as we celebrate our friends and neighbors with autism. You can make a difference! Here on the Neighborhood, we’re celebrating Autism Awareness Month with a round-up of resources on autism for providers and families:

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World Down Syndrome Day 2019

world down syndrome day logo with heart shaped 21

In 2011, the United Nations (UN) declared March 21st as World Down Syndrome Day, an annual opportunity to raise awareness about Down syndrome. Each year, organizations and individuals around the world gather on March 21st to recognize and celebrate the important role that people with Down syndrome play in our communities. In its resolution, the UN “[recognizes] the inherent dignity, worth and valuable contributions of persons with intellectual disabilities as promoters of the well-being and diversity of their communities, and the importance of their individual autonomy and independence, including the freedom to make their own choices.”

To find out what events are taking place in your area, visit

How are you celebrating World Down Syndrome Day? Let us know in the comments below!

To see other special occasions we've celebrated on the Neighborhood, check out:

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Rare Disease Day 2019

green pink and blue handsFebruary 28th is Rare Disease Day. Established in 2008 by EURORDIS and its Council of National Alliances, the goal of Rare Disease Day is to raise awareness for the general public, policy makers, and researchers about rare diseases and their impact on those who live with them.

Did you know…*

  • A disease or disorder is defined as rare in the USA when it affects fewer than 200,000 Americans at any given time.
  • Over 6,000 rare diseases currently exist.
  • 80% of rare diseases have identified genetic origins; others are the result of infections (bacterial or viral), allergies and environmental causes, or are degenerative and proliferative.
  • 50% of rare diseases affect children.


Thousands of events are organized around the world each year to celebrate Rare Disease Day; in 2019, there are over 460 events taking place in 96 countries. To find a Rare Disease Day event near you, click here.

For more information about Rare Disease Day, click here to visit RareDiseaseDa

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World Braille Day 2019

640327860?profile=RESIZE_180x180January 4th is World Braille Day, declared by the United Nations as “an international day to commemorate the importance of braille.” On this day in 1809, Louis Braille, the founder of braille, was born in France. Braille was blinded in both eyes in early childhood, and went on to invent the system of reading and writing for people with blindness or visual impairments that is known around the world today as braille. Organizations around the world celebrate World Braille Day with events and advocacy efforts to promote braille literacy and the rights of individuals who are blind or have visual impairments. 

To learn more about World Braille Day, visit the World Blind Union website at


To see other special occasions we've celebrated on the Neighborhood, check out:

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January is Birth Defects Prevention Month

purple outlined circle with purple hearts and baby clothesFrom the National Birth Defects Prevention Network website:

"January is Birth Defects Prevention Month. The theme for 2019 is 'Best for You. Best for Baby.' We know that not all birth defects can be prevented. But, you can increase your chances of having a healthy baby by doing what you can to be your healthiest self both before and during pregnancy. What is best for you is also best for your baby."

To learn more, click here to visit the National Birth Defects Prevention Network website. There are promotional resources available in English and Spanish.

Happy New Year to all our Early Start Neighbors!

To see other special occasions we've celebrated on the Neighborhood, check out:



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lego block tower buildTis the season for giving gifts, including to the littlest ones in your life. Yet according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2017 there were approximately 251,700 toy-related injuries; around 36 percent of those injuries happened to children under 5*. To encourage a safe and fun holiday season, Prevent Blindness has declared December as Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month.

Keep the holidays joyful by keeping the following guidelines in mind when choosing toys for children of all ages**:

  • Inspect all toys before purchasing. Avoid those that shoot or include parts that fly off. The toy should have no sharp edges or points and should be sturdy enough to withstand impact without breaking, being crushed, or being pulled apart easily.
  • When purchasing toys for children with special needstry to:  Choose toys that may appeal to different senses such as sound, movement, and texture; consider interactive toys to allow the child to play with others; and think about the size of the toy
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Universal Children's Day - November 20

child holding globe

The United Nations has declared November 20th to be Universal Children’s Day, a day for people to come together worldwide “to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children's welfare.”*

A brief history of important events related to Universal Children’s Day:

For more information on how you can participate in Universal Children’s Day, check out the United Nations website at, or the UNICEF website at

* United Nations, 2018.  

To see other special occasions we've celebrated on the Neighborhood, check out:

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World Prematurity Day 2018

event flier with purple background and font

November 17th is World Prematurity Day. On this day, organizations around the globe raise awareness about the reality of premature births: 15 million babies are born prematurely worldwide, and premature birth is the leading cause of death for children under five*. The World Prematurity Day campaign also seeks to educate the public on the prevention of preterm birth, raise funds for research, and advocate for legislation to support parents and babies.

To find out more about World Prematurity Day, including how you can participate, visit

* March of Dimes, 2018.

To see other special occasions we've celebrated on the Neighborhood, check out:

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November is Prematurity Awareness Month

baby in hospital

The March of Dimes has declared November to be Prematurity Awareness Month to bring attention to the issue of premature birth (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) in the United States. Here are some facts about premature birth in the U.S.: 

  • Around 380,000 babies are born prematurely each year, which makes up 9.8 percent of births.
  • The preterm birth rate in the U.S. is one of the worst of industrialized nations.
  • Babies who survive premature birth may experience long-term health and developmental problems, including cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, chronic lung disease, blindness, and hearing loss.
  • The preterm birth rate among black women is 49% higher than the rate among all other women. 

The March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign’s goal is to reduce pre-term birth in the U.S. and increase the chance of babies to reach full term, which includes addressing racial/ethnic and geographic disparities in premature birth. Learn more about the Prematurity Campaign here:

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World Cerebral Palsy Day 2018

earth globe with blue green yellow logoCerebral palsy (CP) is the most common physical disability in childhood, directly impacting the lives of 17 million people worldwide. CP affects movement ranging from “weakness in one hand” to an “almost complete lack of voluntary movement,” according to the website  They go on to describe World Cerebral Palsy (CP) Day as “a movement of people with cerebral palsy and their families, and the organizations that support them, in more than 65 countries.” Their aim is “to ensure that children and adults with cerebral palsy . . . have the same rights, access, and opportunities as anyone else in our society.” Learn more about CP by downloading the organization’s infographic here or visiting their website here.

This resource is related to one or more competencies in the ICC-Recommended Early Start Personnel Manual (ESPM). To find out more, visit this resource in the Neighborhood here.

To see other special occasions we've celebrated on the Neighborhood, check out: https://earlys

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kids playing

October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month! This is a month for advocacy, awareness-raising, and promoting causes that positively impact the lives of people with Down syndrome across the country. The National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) offers some ideas for getting involved with Down Syndrome Awareness Month nationwide and in your community:


Here are some facts about Down syndrome from NDSC’s Down Syndrome Informational Brochure (also available in Spanish):

  • Down syndrome occurs when a baby inherits one extra chromosome at the time of conception. There is no known cause. Down syndrome is not related to race, nationality, religion or socio-economic status.
  • In the United States, approximately one in every 700 children is born with Down syndrome.
  • While exact numbers are not known, it is believed that between 250,000 and 350,000 people in the United States are living with Down syndrome.
  • Down syndrome is not a disease or i
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September is Baby Safety Month!

September is Baby Safety Month, sponsored annually by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). This year, JPMA is helping educate parents and caregivers on the importance of properly choosing and using all the best products for your child’s age and developmental stage as outlined by the manufacturer. Visit to learn more.

To see other special occasions we've celebrated on the Neighborhood, check out

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green flier with green painted handsAugust is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month!

In 2014, Prevent Blindness declared August Children's Eye Health and Safety Month to raise awareness about eye issues in early childhood and help parents and providers take the necessary steps to ensure healthy sight for children. We've rounded up a few resources on children's eye health and safety: 

  • Find out more about children's eye health and safety, including resources for providers and families, here: 
  • Learn when to get vision screenings and eye exams for children here:
  • Pink eye can spread quickly in classrooms and day care settings - read this parents’ guide to pink eye here:
  • A record number of children now have refractive errors, requiring glasses or other intervention to see. Learn about the different kinds of refractive error from myopia to astigmatism in this article:

To see other special occasions we

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June is National CMV Awareness Month

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 1 in every 150 children is born with congenital CMV (cytomegalovirus). CMV is the most common congenital (meaning present at birth) infection in the United States and is the most common viral cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities, including deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy, mental and physical disabilities, seizures, and death.
CMV is a common virus, present in saliva, urine, tears, blood, and mucus, and is carried by 75 percent of healthy infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and children who contract the virus from their peers. About 60 percent of women are at risk for contracting CMV during pregnancy, posing a major risk to mothers, daycare workers, preschool teachers, therapists, and nurses. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the CDC recommend that OB/GYNs counsel women on basic prevention measures to guard against CMV infection. These include frequent hand washing, not
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May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

colorful people with dialogueMay is Better Hearing and Speech Month!  In celebration, the Office of Head Start’s Early Childhood Hearing Outreach (ECHO) Initiative is joining the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) to host a coffee break webinar series to celebrate this year’s theme “Communication for All.”  Throughout the month of May, ASHA partners with national and local stakeholders to engage in a multifaceted public education campaign to raise awareness about the critical need to intervene early when young children are identified with communication disorders. 

The Coffee Break Webinars will focus on raising awareness about the importance of frequent hearing screenings, language development, and family engagement.   The webinars will feature speakers that receive funding for various projects through grants and cooperative agreements from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Maternal and Child Health Bureau and t

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World Autism Awareness Day

children around earth with sun

Today is World Autism Awareness Day! Beginning in 2008, the United Nations recognized April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day, "to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of those with autism so they can lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society." The Autism Society of America has some ideas for how you can celebrate today, and throughout Autism Awareness Month:

To see other special occasions we've celebrated on the Neighborhood, check out:

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World Down Syndrome Day


Today is World Down Syndrome Day, an international day of awareness and advocacy. Check out to learn more about World Down Syndrome Day and view the call to action. 


Is your organizaton or agency doing anything to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day? Let us know in the comments below!

To see other special occasions we've celebrated on the Neighborhood, check out:

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