I was told that Christopher has Down’s syndrome within hours of his birth. At that time, what I knew about Down’s syndrome would have fitted on the back of a postage stamp.
The hospital had no literature to give me on the subject so their health visitor contacted the Down’s Syndrome Association who sent us a copy of their new parents’ pack. That was my first contact with the DSA. It was the start of a long relationship that’s lasted 20 years so far.
In my son’s early years I attended any DSA conference or talk about development and the preschool years that I could get to. I was hungry for as much information and knowledge as possible to enable me and my husband to offer as much support and opportunity to Christopher.
During his school years, Christopher attended mainstream and specialist schools. While he was at our local primary school, I contacted the DSA Helpline for advice about his educational Statement and issues with my local education authority. The advice they gave me forced an immediate response from the chief executive of the education authority and his caseworker.
The matter was resolved promptly. I only wished I had contacted the DSA sooner. Christopher left school with a mixture of academic and vocational qualifications, far exceeding our expectations.
When my son was in his teens the DSA’s DSActive project contacted us to let us know that Moorside Rangers was going to be setting up a new football team for players with Down’s syndrome.
Christopher has played as a defender for this team ever since. He’d never been interested before in playing football but now he loves it. Playing a game alongside his team mates of a similar ability gives him a real buzz. Christopher’s even gone on to complete his Level 1 coaching certificate and assists the coaching staff with the junior team. How amazing is that! Attending the annual DSActive
National Festival is a must on our calendar every year.
Christopher: “DSActive makes me feel proud to have Down’s syndrome. At Moorside Rangers I play with other amazing people like myself”.
As Christopher approached his adult years I contacted Alison from the DSA’s Workfit programme. This has probably been one of the best things we’ve ever done for him. It has truly transformed his life. It wiped away all anxieties that parents have about their child leaving school.
He successfully completed a 16-week work experience placement as a Leisure Service assistant and the role has now become permanent. His colleagues love having him on the team and his managers say that he has brought out the best in the staff. Christopher is extremely proud to tell you that he is now a working man.
I don’t know what I would have done over the years if I had not had the guidance and support of the DSA. I certainly don’t feel that Christopher would have had all the opportunities in life that he has had. Long may the Down’s Syndrome Association continue!
We want to continue to be able to support families and carers, now and in the future, however old the person with Down’s syndrome is who they care for, whatever challenges they are facing.
The Down’s Syndrome Association does not receive any Government funding and we rely entirely on donations from our members and supporters to deliver all our programmes. For us to continue to develop new information resources and programmes and to make sure we are able to support people with Down’s syndrome, their families, friends, carers and professionals throughout their lives, we are asking for your support once again.
As always, we are so incredibly grateful to you all for your continued support and generosity. Thank you.