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A new support group for Downs Syndrome

A mother of a Down Syndrome child is launching the first local support group for parents on October 20.

17 October 2012 | Susanna Oosthuizen

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NELSPRUIT - Children with Down syndrome are often considered to be unusually happy and content. However, this is one of the misconceptions about the condition that, without any intended malice, discriminates against them.

Such a myth seems harmless enough, in fact, it almost seems like a positive stereotype. But what is actually being suggested is that people with this condition don't have the capacity to experience the full range of human emotions; that they can't feel pain, anger, rage or humiliation, and others therefore don't have to be concerned about their feelings.

But misunderstandings like these will hopefully be eliminated by initiatives such as "It's All in the Genes", an awareness campaign by Down Syndrome South Africa (DSSA) which will be launched on October 20, National Down Syndrome Day.

This is a genetic condition and the campaign aims to create awareness and promote the abilities of people with the condition. In South Africa, it is the largest single cause of intellectual disabilities affecting one in every 500 children born each year.

Therefore, it is vital to raise awareness and make a difference, to change preconceived ideas and prejudices that society may have.

"All we ask is that schools, companies and the general public within South Africa support us on Saturday, or any day in October that you choose, by wearing jeans, donating R5 and wearing a Genes Day awareness sticker in recognition of this," explains Roxanne Scholtz of the DSSA.

In the Lowveld, the mother of an eight-year-old with Down syndrome, Marita Kroon, has arranged that friends with the condition, their families and sponsors participate in constructive activities on this day.

Kroon invites other parents that are in a similar situation to join, saying "We have fifteen Down syndrome friends that we know of who will gather at Wimpy, The Grove at 12:00 with their families and the sponsors, Produkta Nissan."

At this event the first-ever support group for the region will be formalised and a donation of R5 000 for educational toys will be made to Dasha School.

Afterwards, the popular Oom Karoolus and Lente will be hosted by Produkta Nissan at Church Unlimited at 14:00. Entrance is only R10, so bring your children to enjoy this funfilled event.

Enquiries: Marita Kroon on 082-823-8918 or Roxanne Scholtz on 011-484-8891 or dssa.odo@icon.co.za

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