21st March 2013 marks the 8th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day. A global awareness day which has been recognised by the United Nations since 2012.
Shabang Inclusive Learning, based at The Watershed in Slaithwaite and Huddersfield Down Syndrome Support Group have created a short accessible film – “Like A Rainbow”. This five minute moving photo montage shows images of local children and young people with Down Syndrome pursuing their interests and hobbies and enjoying life like anyone else.
The film will be emailed out to schools across the country as a free resource to use in assemblies, discussion groups and citizenship classes along with some simple ideas to celebrate the day.
Kim Reuter from Shabang said” We hope our film will encourage people to see our children as children first – children who are high achievers, enthusiasts and experts – children who also happen to have Down Syndrome. “
Leanne Davies from HDSSG said “We always celebrate World Down Syndrome Day on March 21st – the date represents the 3rd copy of chromosome 21 which characterises Down Syndrome. This year the theme is ‘Lots of socks’ and we are inviting schools and their pupils to celebrate by wearing odd socks! This is a fun way to raise awareness. ” Local schools who have taken up the idea so far include Royds Hall High School, Thurstonland First School and Wilberlee Primary School.
Kim from Shabang says “Rather than seeing our children as ‘different’ – we consider them to be exceptional”
Exceptional indeed – members of HDSSG , who feature in ‘Like A Rainbow” include Jack Davies who models for Eureka Children’s Museum and has been featured in National Newspapers, Joanne Kempley, Aisling Connelly, Jack Drennan, Zoe Rank, Rebekah Hill and Ruben Reuter who will be competing in the Special Olympics Summer Games this Summer, not to mention the long list of members who have acquired their Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Also Sophie Crossland a local dancer with tv appearances on BBC’s the One Show. Ruben has recently been featured in a CBBC channel My Life Documentary series which will be re run on World Down Syndrome Day at 9.05am. He is thought to be the first young person with Down Syndrome to ever narrate a TV programme.
Huddersfield Down Syndrome Support Group, run entirely by parent volunteers, organises a wide range of activities such at Yoga, Literacy and Numeracy classes, swimming and theatre trips and is currently developing a social enterprise for its Post 16 members. Leanne Davies HDSSG’s Communication Officer has developed a website packed with information and news, as well as lively social networking sites which connect with regional and national groups across the Down Syndrome global community.
HDSSG keeps up to date with emerging ideas and current research and also produces information packs for new families.
“Down Syndrome effects 1 in 1000 babies and so our numbers are always growing ” says Leanne “ however we also extend our membership to local children with additional needs with rarer diagnosis who may not have a support group of their own.”
So, now on Thursday 21st March , when people comment on you wearing odd socks – you can tell them why!
Happy World Down Syndrome Day 2013!
♦ Please enjoy Like A Rainbow made by our fabulous friends at Shabang!
You can also watch rating busting programme ‘Breaking Free’ produced by Markthree Media featuring Huddersfield’s Ruben Reuter and 2 other youngsters with Down Syndrome. The show follows the trio through their summer, can they acheive their goals?
Breaking Free will be aired again by popular demand on the Cbbc channel at 9.05am on World Down Syndrome Day. It will also be available on the BBC iPlayer for 7 days following.
Down Syndrome International invites everyone to wear lots of socks to raise awareness on WDSD! See the poster below for more: