“Keep Calm It’s Only An Extra Chromosome” Billboard Goes Up In Florence, Italy

down syndrome billboard keep calm its only extra chromosome billboard florence italy

A friend of mine sent me this picture of a billboard promoting Down Syndrome awareness. The awesomely large billboard, located in one of the busiest parts of Florence, Italy features the very popular (and overused) phrase “Keep Calm It’s Only An Extra Chromosome” on an orange background with a picture of an adorable girl with Down syndrome. (You may have seen this saying on a tee-shirt by the way.)

I have to admit when I saw the picture I thought it may have been photoshopped (read: fake.) I even did some Google searches trying to find some mention of a Down Syndrome billboard going up in Italy, but found nothing (and I consider myself a pretty good Google-er!)

But the friend that sent me this picture assures me it’s real, and from the looks of it, I agree.

So here’s a picture of the mystery billboard.

It makes me excited to see billboards like this, if nothing more just to help the public see that “Down Syndrome is ok.” That indeed Down syndrome is only an extra chromosome and children like my son isn’t suffering, sick, or in need of someone to “pray his Down syndrome away.”

So kudos to whoever put this billboard up, and keep up the awesome work!

I’d like to know more information about this billboard. Who’s behind it?  Why is it in English as opposed to Italian (another reason I thought it was fake.) What does the fine print say? Etc… From these stats I know a lot of people from Italy read our blog, so if you’re reading this and have some information about this billboard please fill us in!

To everyone else, what do you think of this billboard? Do you think billboards like this help break some of the inaccurate stereotypes about Down syndrome? Would you like to see more of them go up? Leave a comment below and chime in!

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About Rick Smith

Hi, I'm Noah's Dad and I'm passionate about giving the world a window into our life as we raise our son who was born with Down syndrome. I also enjoy connecting with other families, so let's stay connected.


  1. According to this source of information it is not a fake, but they have had some kind of issue that has made the board to be pulled down:


    Regards (from Spain, not Italy!)

  2. I am not sure if billboards help the awareness or not, but my wife and I love seeing anything like this.

    It’s exciting because someone from our organic fraternity is up on the billboard. It is the same when we saw another one of our boys on the Care.com commercial.

    Now I think about, yeah, it has got to be helping raise the awareness.

    Thanks Rick.

  3. Cherie Gilmore says

    The website listed at21.it seems to be from a blogger named Antonella. I think they are associated with a group teatrallegria that performed on Italy’s got talent. I can’t find any videos of their performance. Using google translate, I think they had a smaller billboard taken down, so they put up this larger one until October 15th. Good luck, I’m sure you will find the blogger behind this.

  4. Hello!
    I’m Italian, but I live far from Florence therefore I can’t go and check if there really is. But I can reassume the article, although my English is poor 😉 The billboard was created by the non-profit organization “Trisomy 21” as a public response to an awful episode of intolerance occurred a few days ago, when a poster of their annual fund-raising event posted by the mother of a kid with Down Syndrome in the hallway of the building where her family lives was removed just two day after because some people have complained to the doorman that they could not bear to see the picture of those guys with Down Syndrome. The fine print of the billboard says that the primary purpose of the organization “Trisomy 21”, founded in 1979 by a group of families, is to promote the best possible development of people with Down syndrome and their real social integration. I think it is a huge mistake that a billboard made to spread awareness among the Italians is in English, a language different from ours, that many, but certainly not everyone (especially among those over 40) understand!
    I apologize for the lenght of this comment. I hope that my English is readable.

  5. In case you are interested:
    Website of the non-profit organization “Associazione trisomia 21″ that is behind the billboard: http://www.at21.it
    Their blog: at21blog.blogspot.it
    Both are in italian.

  6. Hopely the billboard would go a long way to raise awareness among the general public. Just a little over a year ago before I welcome a baby boy with down syndrome, I myself was ignorant of down syndrome and easily brushed it off. By raising awareness and giving people a chance to talk about it,, I hope people would become more acceptable and inclusive of people with down syndrome and their family members.

  7. I’d love to see more billboards like this 🙂 I think I’d even like to get a t-shirt for Dustin , my little brother (20) with DS. I know I’m thinking this exact phrase when I take Dustin out places and people look like they see a killer wale while looking at him. But at the same time , I know once all of them got to know Dustin and realize how lovable he is and how much he loves people , then they’d really appreciate him . I think this billboard would really help people to realize this:)

  8. I was in Florence this week and the billboard is most certainly still there, in English and the beautiful little girl made my friends and I smile every time we passed her picture.

  9. I think the billboard is a wonderful sight to see, but it is sad that the one posted in a hallway had to be taken down, It makes me wonder how shallow the Italians are in light of the fact that a DS child’s face makes them uncomfortable. Are only things of perfection acceptable to these people, because a DS child is perfection in all it’s glory and they are ignorant of the fact. I hope this organization continues in its efforts to educate the population on the beauty these children and adults impart to our world.

    • Baba5, I agree the billboard is wonderful although it should certainly be in Italian. It is also sad that someone complained about a poster in a hallway. However I would encourage you not to think that all Italians think the same. Just as in America, there are some people who will discriminate and yes, are shallow, and there are many others who are not. The fact that an Italian organization put up this billboard and the comments by some of the Italians to this blogpost show that. Don’t label all Italians as potentially shallow because of one instance. For the record, I am an American mother of an adorable boy with Down syndrome and so far as I know, I have no Italian in my heritage. I do however hope to visit there some day.

  10. Becky Rankin says

    Love the billboard! 🙂 Would make more sense to have it in the preferred language of the area in which it is placed, of course. I love to see pictures of special children. It is good to put them out there for the public to see. Educate the public!!! 🙂

  11. Thank you for educating me about this condition in such a straightforward, simple way. I never knew what created the condition despite having friends who’s relations have been affected by it.

  12. My husband and I saw this billboard while in Florence October 2013. I took a photo of it because we have a family member with Down Syndrome. I’ve also been wondering why it was in English and not Italian.

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