Down Syndrome South Africa says people with Down syndrome are remarkable but face challenges

Lucas was born with Down syndrome, a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21. Picture: YouTube.com

Lucas was born with Down syndrome, a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21. Picture: YouTube.com

Published Sep 28, 2023

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Johannesburg - As National Down Syndrome Awareness Day will be celebrated on October 20, Down Syndrome South Africa (DSSA) says that in honour of this national day, they stand united with the national community to shed light on the remarkable individuals with Down syndrome and the challenges they face every day.

According to DSSA, Down syndrome is one of the most common occurring genetic conditions caused by a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21, known as trisomy 21.

“This extra chromosome causes Down syndrome and alters the course of development both physically and cognitively. Persons with Down syndrome bring an undeniable light into our world. Their enthusiasm, creativity and unwavering determination inspire us all,” said DSSA.

DSSA said that it is crucial to acknowledge that individuals with Down syndrome often encounter barriers that hinder their full participation in society.

These challenges include but are not limited to:

– Educational barriers: many people with Down syndrome face limited access to inclusive education, hindering their intellectual and social development.

– Health-care disparities: they may experience inadequate health care and are at a higher risk of certain medical conditions, necessitating greater attention and support.

– Employment challenges: discrimination and stereotypes can hinder their access to meaningful employment opportunities, preventing them from fully contributing to the workforce.

– Social isolation: stigmatisation and societal biases can lead to social isolation, limiting their ability to form meaningful relationships and connections.

– Legal and advocacy gaps: legislative gaps such as the right to legal capacity and supported decision-making can create hurdles in securing rights and supports for individuals with Down syndrome.

According to DSSA South Africans can:

– advocate for inclusive education policies not only in special schools but mainstream schools as well so that people with Down syndrome have access to quality learning opportunities

– work towards improved heath-care access and support for all

– collaborate with businesses to promote inclusive employment practices and provide training to employers to better understand the capabilities of individuals with Down syndrome

– create inclusive spaces and events where individuals with Down syndrome can build connections, friendships and a sense of belonging

– lobby for legal reforms that protect their rights and welfare, ensuring they have a voice in decision-making processes.

DSSA has also asked South Africans to join them in celebrating the power of pink as they welcome the release of the new Barbie Doll with Down syndrome in South Africa.

“As we work hand in hand together, let us envision a better future where individuals with Down syndrome are empowered to pursue their dreams, contribute to society and achieve greater independence. Together, let us embrace diversity to build a more inclusive society.

“DSSA and all its affiliates will be hosting various activities throughout October. To find out what events are taking place in your area, please contact the national office or follow us on Facebook to see our activities,” said DSSA.

You can also show your support by wearing your jeans on October 20 (It’s all in the Genes) and making a donation to support their work. Banking details: Standard Bank, Account No: 202470695, Branch code: 051001.

The Star

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