Down syndrome (DS) is the most common single cause of human birth defects, it is a genetic condition in which a person has 47 chromosomes instead of the usual 46.
Children affected by DS may have delayed mental and social development associated with impulsive behavior, poor judgment, short attention span and slow learning.
In most developed countries, since the early 20th century many people with DS were housed in institutions or colonies and excluded from society.
While the path toward social inclusion started in the 60's, nowadays prenatal analysis allows individuals to foresee this condition. A 2002 literature review of elective abortion rates found that 91–93% of pregnancies in the United Kingdom and Europe with a diagnosis of Down syndrome were terminated.
Given those premises, it seems that western society is trying to include people with DS while preventing their actual birth.
Since 2006, Rome’s branch of the Italian Association of People with Down syndrome - lately its National branch - is running a sailing program for young adults. Rather than being a sailing school, the program uses the boat setting to challenge the adaptive skills of its participants. In a wild environment such as the Mediterranean Sea, away from their families’ comfort zone, the program fosters social relations and autonomy.
As part of my long-term project on people affected by DS, since 2007 I've been photographing various crews during their training sessions.