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News Mar 20, 2022

Here’s What #InclusionMeans, from Jacobs ACE Network on World Down Syndrome Day

Talking World Down Syndrome Day and unique experiences with the Jacobs ACE network.

Did you know... World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated on the 21st day of the 3rd month (March) to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome?

At Jacobs, we live inclusion. It’s not about numbers, statistics or quotas - it’s about every one of our people and the collective strength we take from their unique perspectives, ambitions and dreams.

And this year, we’re excited for Jacobs’ first-ever global celebration in honor of World Down Syndrome Day.

Led by our ACE network, we’ve got a host of events planned – carrying the excitement of the day throughout the whole week – including a lesson in Makaton sign language, global conversations with our teammates, a giving campaign through our Collectively℠ program, and a performance by DragSyndrome, in collaboration with Jacobs’ Prism employee network.

Additionally, Jacobs teammates and leaders around the world are participating in the #LotsofSocks campaign. The Lots of Socks campaign aims to raise awareness of Down syndrome in a fun and colorful way. Taking part in the campaign is as easy as putting on your favorite pair of noticeable socks – whether they’re mismatched or craziest or most colorful – and sharing with those around you. No matter if you’re in the office or virtual, donning your fun socks is a way to help get people talking on World Down Syndrome Day. Be sure to share your #LotsofSocks pictures on social media – we will be sharing ours all week!

One of our eight employee networks, ACE plays a critical role in fostering our Culture of Caring and championing disability inclusion. ACE – which stands for Access. Connect. Empower – champions accessibility, community and opportunity for caregivers and employees with disabilities. The network provides information, resources and networking, runs awareness events and advocates for positive change.

Anyone in the company can join ACE to be a better ally and learn more. And, in the spirit of embracing all that #InclusionMeans (the theme of this year’s World Down Syndrome Day,) we're thrilled to include our wider Jacobs community on social media and here on with a conversation below with our teammates and ACE members about what inclusion means to them and their unique experiences.

Meet Bethany, Lara and Kathryn:

Bethany Higton, Health Physics Teammate, Warrington, U.K.

Blond woman in glasses and black sweatshirt

Part of the Jacobs team for more than two years, Bethany is part of our Health Physics Team predominantly based in our Warrington, U.K. laboratories. Known for her helpfulness and willingness to tackle any task at hand, Bethany’s weekly duties include swab surveys to determine possible contamination, air sample analysis, laundry monitoring (of dirty lab coats), recordkeeping and monitoring of very low-level waste from the labs prior to disposal.

Bethany is a keen singer and part of a rock and pop choir called ‘Beautiful Noise.’ On her breaks from the lab, you can often find her practicing her latest tunes!

Hi, Bethany! This year’s World Down Syndrome Day theme is #InclusionMeans. What does inclusion mean to you?

Inclusion is important to me because it’s important to feel part of a team. Here at Jacobs, I work as part of a team to analyze various samples in labs… I get great satisfaction when I have completed my work.

What’s your favorite part of your job here at #OurJacobs?

My favorite part of work at Jacobs is [handling] the dirty laundry. It’s a requirement to clean laundry coming out of a controlled area. I complete washing so we can prepare the laundry for going offsite. 

Lara Jumagdao, Senior Architect, Doha, Qatar

Lara and Jasmine Jumagdao

Hi, Lara! Why is World Down Syndrome Day important to you?

I’m a proud Mom to a 16-year-old playful, talented and sweet little lady – Jasmine who has Down syndrome. Jasmine has brought good changes in our lives, and she has taught us the value of appreciating small and big things.

What do you enjoy most about being involved with the Jacobs ACE network?

I am happy to be able to connect with colleagues at Jacobs who have the same experiences as me. The network has also allowed me to educate friends at the workplace about Down syndrome and break some of the misconceptions. The ACE network has been a safe place where I can share without judgement.

This year’s World Down Syndrome Day theme is #InclusionMeans. What does inclusion mean to you?

#InclusionMeans for me, especially as a designer/ architect, is creating an environment without barriers and ensuring communities are provided with the necessities that caters for “EVERYONE.” Disability is not a disease; it’s a natural part of human diversity and we should take pride of our differences.

What’s your proudest ACE network moment? How about as a carer?

Leading the Qatar office is a great achievement and taking part in several ACE activities is always a proud moment.

Jasmine has changed our lives in ways I would never have imagined. I have learned to take things slow and appreciate small and big things. We celebrate every milestone and our house echoes encouragement and support because of Jasmine. She is her siblings’ refuge, they come to her for a hug or a kiss whenever they are exhausted or sad or just bored, we find comfort in her warmth. Every day is a proud moment with Jasmine, it’s not always easy, but definitely rewarding.

What’s your favorite thing about being part of #OurJacobs team?

I have been connected to a lot of colleagues at Jacobs, some based on the same region and elsewhere in the world. Sometimes it feels like we are not oceans apart. It’s also nice that the character of the community and the people in it are all good and welcoming.

If you aren’t working, what would we be most likely to find you doing?

Catching up on my stack of unfinished quilts, making quilted pillows as gifts for close friends and families, re-organizing the house, binge watching on Netflix, cooking with Jasmine!

Kathryn Weast, Corporate Digital & Social Media Manager, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.

Kathryn and Julia Weast

Hi, Kathryn! Why is World Down Syndrome Day important to you?

I’m the lucky older sister to a fun-loving, helpful and kind young woman named Julia who happens to have Down syndrome. I’ve been a passionate advocate for disability inclusion most of my life now and being Julia’s sister is incredible and one of the brightest parts of my life.

What do you enjoy most about being involved with the Jacobs ACE network?

I love that ACE gives me the opportunity to connect with teammates at Jacobs who have similar experiences to me. It’s refreshing to see disability inclusion becoming more prominent both at our company and in the wider business community.

This year’s World Down Syndrome Day theme is #InclusionMeans. What does inclusion mean to you?

For me, #InclusionMeans taking the time to consciously include EVERYONE. Another great part of the ACE network is that the focus isn’t just on visible, but also invisible disabilities. All of us have unique experiences and these experiences deserve to be welcomed, shared and celebrated.

What’s your proudest ACE network moment? How about as a carer?

Obviously super excited about ACE leading Jacobs’ efforts to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day globally for the first time. I’m also proud of the network growing to over 1,000 members at the end of last year.

As Julia’s big sister, nothing makes me prouder than to see her absolutely crushing it in her adult life. We’re lucky to have a great a program called The Haase House right in our community that provides support to young adults with disabilities. Since joining the program, I’ve watched Julia grow from extremely shy and cautious into a brave, confident woman with enhanced verbal and communication skills and energy and enthusiasm to try new things.

What’s your favorite thing about being part of #OurJacobs team?

In addition to the great connections through the ACE network, I’ve also met several close friends at Jacobs. While we don’t all work on the same team or in the same city, state or even country, having friends “at work” makes it all more fun.

If you aren’t working, what would we be most likely to find you doing?

Catching up on Netflix, reading my always-growing “To-Read List,” or spending time with my family and Ziggy, my 2-year-old English springer spaniel.

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