The Buddy Walk® was developed by the National Down Syndrome Society in 1995 to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month in October and to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome.
Buddy Walk® grows each year from 17 walks worldwide in 1995 to close to 300 walks in 2015. In 2014, nearly $13 million was raised nationwide to benefit local programs and services, as well as the national advocacy and public awareness initiatives of NDSS that benefit all individuals with Down syndrome.
ADSA’s Buddy Walk
In 2005 the Auckland Down Syndrome Association enlisted the services of 4 AUT (Auckland University of Technology) students to help organise the inaugural Buddy Walk. These students were in their final year of a Bachelor of Communications Studies degree, majoring in public relations,
Every year AUT students get a chance to put in practice what they have learned during the previous three years, through “a working Public Relations Agency”, structured and run as near to a business as is possible.
Auckland Down Syndrome Association was very lucky to be chosen by four extremely dedicated young people, Michael Allen, Victoria Blackman, Leah Evans and Shannon Green. Using a manual produced in the USA, the students over a relatively short time frame adapted the concept to New Zealand conditions and produced a most successful professionally run event through posters, flyers, publicity, securing sponsorship, radio station air time, setting out the walk course, to providing a wide range of fundraising and entertainment activities on the day.
Organising this event for Auckland Down Syndrome Association won them the prestigious PRINZ (Public Relations Institute of New Zealand) awards in 2006.
For the next two years the event was organised by part-time and full-time students of the Events Management class of Auckland University of Technology.
The Auckland Down Syndrome Association decided to change the date of the event from October to March so the event could be held around World Down Syndrome Day, which is every year on 21 March. This is a significant date for the Down syndrome community. Down syndrome is also called Trisomy 21 and occurs when a person has a 3rd and extra 21st chromosome. The month and day were chosen to correspond with Trisomy and 21.
The event was organised with the help of some very dedicated parents.