Get involved in Down Syndrome Awareness Week

Published: Tuesday 21st March 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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Today is World Down Syndrome Day. We spoke to the Downright Special Network, a Hull-based charity that supports children with the condition.

“We help parents with all aspects of care, development and education of young people with Down syndrome,” explains Gillian Bowlas, Charity Manager.

“Downright Special started in 2007, when a group of parents of children with the condition wanted to support each other emotionally, practically and educationally.”

The incredible charity offers a huge range of services that benefit families and those with Down syndrome. They support parents right from the beginning of their child’s life.

“We’ll visit new parents early on, just after they receive an antenatal diagnosis,” Gillian tells us.

“We also provide sensory and singing groups for babies, and social events for families.”

For slightly older children, Downright Special Fridays provide education, fun and play sessions, as well as their parents and carers.

Here the charity lends out useful resources and shares the best teaching techniques.

Downright Special also works closely with schools and teaching assistants:

“We want to promote the awareness of Down syndrome, encouraging successful inclusion and beneficial education.”

Each year, on 21 March, World Down Syndrome Day is observed:

“This day was chosen because children with Down syndrome have three copies of chromosome 21,” clarifies Gillian.

A different theme is chosen for the day each year. This time the theme is #MyVoiceMyCommunity, taking place throughout the week.

“It’s all about letting those with Down syndrome have a voice and speak up about how they see the world and feel.”

“World Down Syndrome Day is important for creating this awareness,” Gillian points out. “There are a lot of myths surrounding the condition that we need to correct.”

For example, it is often thought that people with Down syndrome don’t live very long.

“Today, this is not true. We have people with the condition living well into their 50s and 60s, as well as a small number living beyond their 70s.”

“With the right support, people with Down syndrome can achieve the same life goals as anyone else. Small but increasing numbers are leaving home, living with support in their communities,” continues Gillian.

“They are going to university, gaining employment, meeting partners and getting the best out of life.”

As part of the awareness week, Downright Special are keen to raise understanding and funds to help continue their influential work.

“We’d love it if people could help us fundraise,” enthuses Gillian. “In fact, we’ve just announced our 10th anniversary charity ball on Friday 23 June, where people are encouraged to buy tickets for a three-course dinner and a night of entertainment.”

For more information about World Down Syndrome Day, please visit Also make sure to check out the incredible work of our local charity on the Downright Special website.

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Published: Tuesday 21st March 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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