For the Science Festival of 2010, the ministry of research and higher education gave “Biodiversity, bioethics and biotechnologies” as a theme for the exposition: a wonderful opportunity to introduce bioethics to young people.
With over 1000 visitors in five days, the exposition initiated by the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation during the Science Festival in 2009 was a great success. Many school groups came to the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation’s headquarter in order to find out about Down Syndrome and the story of professor Jérôme Lejeune’ discovery. When asked at the end of the visit, the visitors all spoke of how they had been moved by the filmed testimonies of people with Down Syndrome.
Bioethics, which has been a well debated topic for many years, is, in fact, not an easy notion to understand. At the verge of science and ethics, it presents fundamental issues which are at stake in the future of our society. This is why today’s youth must be informed: we must help them realise, as soon as possible, that they are all, personally and collectively, concerned by the subject. This includes thinking about the dignity and life of disabled people from their very conception and help them understand what is at stake: here is a mission that lies in the very heart of the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation.
Thus, the exposition of 2010 will be about Down Syndrome and bioethics. It will, of course, be adapted for the public including children, teenagers, and adults. During the visit, the public will be presented with videos, games, expositions and scientific animations. An engineer in biology will propose to each participants to perform a DNA extraction themselves. At the end of the visit, a quiz will enable the visitors to see how much they have understood about the role of chromosomes, genes, the cause for Down Syndrome… and, more importantly, the beginning of a person’s life.