UTICA, NY-- When Yanina Martinez, of Whitesboro, looks at her 9-month old baby boy Joas, she sees a happy-go-lucky baby, who puts a smile on everyone's face.
"Usually babies, when they're sleepy, when they're tired, they get a little fussy he rarely, he's just content about life itself," she said. "You give him a toy, he's happy, he loves everything."
Martinez doesn't see Joas Martinez as a little boy with Down syndrome, instead she focuses on her growing baby who's learning everyday.
"It's been really a blessing to see him develop the way that he's developing," Martinez said. "He' sitting, he's eating, he's learning how to crawl, he crawls backwards, not forward yet, but backwards. His therapists just say how amazed they are by his development. Again that just tells us, his condition does not define him by all means."
Martinez is determined to spread that message. She helped organize an informal event in downtown Utica on World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, because 3/21 represents those with Down syndrome who have a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.
Martinez wanted to raise social awareness and change the perception of people with the condition. The group handed out blue and yellow bracelets, the colors that represent Down syndrome awareness, along with colorful cupcakes, candy and balloons.
"Just saying 'hey we're being kind, we're spreading some love, just pass it on it's Down syndrome day', " she said. "That's what it's about."