Fundraising tea for Down symdrome outreach work

On October 22, Down Syndrome Association Amathole (DSAA) hosted a fundraising tea at the Osner Hotel to generate income for their outreach work.

Outreach work entails training and support for families caring for loved ones with Down syndrome, among other support measures. DSAA confirmed that National Lottery sponsorship had ended and with impact of Covid-19, fundraising efforts would just barely allow the association to continue its work.

The event generated around R30,000 for the association and the money will be dedicated towards providing services such as hospital visitation, workshops and home-based care.

October is Down syndrome awareness month and chair of the association Linda Davis said throughout the month DSAA had been working to increase public understanding about the condition and combat stereotypes.

Due to financial constraints, DSAA only has one outreach co-ordinator left despite their observations that more babies are being born at local hospitals such as Cecelia Makiwane with Down syndrome.

“We can’t say why exactly more Down syndrome children are being born because we don’t know what causes it. This year we have already had 11 births. The children born with the condition this year are mainly from disadvantaged areas because mothers are unable to afford tests to determine whether there are complications prior to the birth.

“We are here to provide them with support,” she said.

The DSAA outreach worker is stationed at local hospitals to catalogue the number of children affected so these numbers can be brought to the attention of the departments of health, education and social development.

Davis hopes that in 2023, DSAA will be able to strengthen its relationships between the departments so that support for children with Down syndrome can be given at schooling level.

“We are battling to get the children into special schools and mainstream schools. You can wait months and years for a school spot to open up for the children,” she said.

Author, motivational speaker and international ambassador for people with Down syndrome Sheri Brynard provided the keynote address.

Brynard and her mother, Dr Susette Brynard, are co-authors of an autobiographical book entitled, Sheri: Just the way I am’ based on their experience with Down syndrome.

The Brynards said over the 40 years of Sheri’s life they had witnessed great changes in attitudes towards Down syndrome as these children were more accepted and supported by their families as opposed to when Sheri was born and they were encouraged to institutionalise her.

“We have to focus on the progress we have made and the small steps we have made going forward to undo stereotypes,” said Dr Brynard.

HOPE HEROES: Motivational speaker Sheri Brynard and local teaching assistant and national ambassador for youth with Down syndrome Tasha Oosthuizen.
TWO STEP: Youth from Down Syndrome Association Amathole dance with Vicky Luff, right, from Dynamic Body Studio


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