'Just The Two Of Us': The right to romance and sexual relationships for people with Down syndrome

'Just The Two Of Us': The right to romance and sexual relationships for people with Down syndrome

World Down Syndrome Day is on 21st March.

To celebrate World Down Syndrome Day CoorDown has launched its global awareness campaign “Just The Two Of Us”, to promote the right of people with Down Syndrome to experience romantic and sexual relationships and receive correct and accessible information to enjoy a full and healthy sexual freedom.

Through a crescendo of scenes bordering on the absurd, the campaign video makes use of hyperbole to show how families, especially when it comes to romantic relationships, can become a cumbersome presence in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. Amid smiles and emotions that are too openly "shared", the message of the starring couple leaves no doubt: "Love needs space". 

It is a difficult balance for parents and carers to find, balancing protectiveness with being supportive and wanting their loved ones to live life to the fullest. The video unfolds to the tune of a cover of the song "Just The Two Of Us" by Grover Washington Jr. and Bill Withers, which serves as soundtrack to the story and as final message.

Everyone has a right to develop romantic relationships and to fully enjoy their sexuality, yet for people with intellectual disabilities this is often still a taboo.

Many stereotypes surrounding disability have been shattered in the last decades, but there is one theme that still causes embarrassment and resistance: sexuality.

It is a cultural change that must be tackled and that involves families, carers and support workers first and next institutions and society at large. People with Down syndrome are often seen as “eternal children”, and as such are protected or kept away from anything that has to do with adulthood, including sexuality. But people with Down syndrome have the same needs as anybody else and have the same right to live an independent love and sexual life and to receive clear and accessible information.

Relationships and sex education may enable people with intellectual disabilities to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling emotional life and is key to help them understand their rights, learn about their bodies and about the concepts of “consent” and “safe sex”, and protect them from potential abuse.

In support of the campaign, we created the websitewww.justthetwoofus.org, to provide information and resources on the topic of sexuality of people with Down syndrome and intellectual disabilities. The site features a Q&A section on sexuality, relationships, and self-discovery to answer frequently asked questions from people with Down syndrome, their families, carers and support workers.

Antonella Falugiani, President of CoorDown ODV: "Undoubtedly sexuality is a thorny issue, shrouded in taboos that have deep cultural roots, but it is also a topic that we, as representatives of people with Down syndrome, wanted to address because it is not only the recognition of a right, but also the recognition of a need. There are several barriers, which may be more or less manifest, that hinder the sexual and emotional development of people with intellectual disabilities, and thus limit their psychophysical wellbeing, and it is now high time we try and tear them down. People with Down Syndrome are neither “asexual angels”, nor are they “demons” who cannot control their urges. By staging an ironic paradox, the movie "Just The Two of Us” will allow us to start the ball rolling and address a very delicate topic, to then outline a constructive guided pathway to sexuality that can give young adults with Down syndrome adequate tools and help both families, carers and support workers".

Luca Lorenzini and Luca Pannese, executive creative directors, SMALL New York: "Ten years have gone by since we created our first campaign for CoorDown and this year again it has been a great privilege to work with the association, to help people with Down syndrome gain more rights. With this campaign we are addressing a theme that most likely never in our wildest dreams would we have imagined touching on ten years ago. We think this is a great sign, because clearly over the years we have been able to push the boundaries of topics that can be broached, opening up more and more opportunities for people with Down syndrome. Although this is the tenth year, we hope it is but the start of a wonderful journey".


Agency: SMALL
Executive Creative Directors: Luca Pannese, Luca Lorenzini
Production Company: Indiana Production
Directors: Martin Romanella & Augusto Zapiola
Executive Producer: Karim Bartoletti
Senior Producer: Giulia Buffa
Assistant Producer: Camilla Romeo
Production manager: Pablo Casula
DP: Marcello Dapporto
Editor: Marco Battiloro
Post producer: Alga Pastorelli
Colorist: Lorenzo Ameri
Post video: Proxima
Post audio: Brava Gente
Music: Alessandro Cristofori and Diego Perugini for Stabbiolo Music
Vocals: James Werts, Eve Cornelious
Song: “Just the two of us” di Ralph Macdonald; William Salter; Bill Withers courtesy of © Antisia Music Inc.; BMG Ruby Songs; Bleunig Music; Edizioni per l’Italia: BMG Rights Management (Italy) srl; Cervino - Edizioni Musicali srl
Website: Johan Soderkvist

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