A few years ago Julian Hallett, our Services Development Manager, attended the 21st birthday celebrations of a young man from Cardiff called Gareth.
Julian was honoured to be there…to celebrate one of Gareth’s milestone birthdays, to see the incredible young man Gareth had grown into and knowing that the DSA had played an important and valuable part in his story.
Gareth’s Mum, Sian, got involved with the DSA after a chance encounter in a supermarket. Sian met another family whose daughter, who happened to have Down’s syndrome, was busily chatting away to her Mum. This prompted Sian to get in touch with us to find out more about early development and speech and language therapy for Gareth. From that moment on, she knew she could pick up the phone and ask us anything and we would always be there.
“Just knowing that there is someone there with knowledge of, and interest in, any queries or problems that I have or issues that we come across has been so supportive and beneficial to me and my family. I know that I’m not on my own.” – Sian
Julian first met Gareth and his family when he ran a training session for Gareth’s mainstream primary school. Julian provided further training when Gareth moved to a mainstream secondary school.
In his teens, Gareth became involved with a group of young adults with Down’s syndrome who took part in a number of activities facilitated by the DSA. In 2015 he took part in a conference we ran for young people with Down’s syndrome. Gareth and the other delegates would go on to become co-trainers with members of the DSA team, delivering training sessions for professionals who want to know more about what living with Down’s syndrome is like from the perspective of an individual who has the condition.
Gareth is a keen sportsman and enjoys cricket, football and contemporary dance. He has been involved with our DSActive team Cardiff City FC for a number of years, participating in a number of our annual tournaments.
Recently Gareth registered with our WorkFit project with the aim of finding paid employment. After doing really well on various work experience placements Gareth now has a paid position at his local Waitrose. He is a valued member of the team at his store and is liked and respected by his colleagues.
Gareth has a full social life and many hobbies. He has toured the UK and Europe with Welsh theatre company Hijinx and has performed in over 100 theatres so far. He will be going to Shanghai, Switzerland and New York with the company this summer.
“I think that I have had an exciting life, I have a lovely girlfriend, a good job, I enjoy all the sports I play. I have some really good friends and a wonderful family which support me and I do really well on my theatre tour, looking after myself and being part of the team.”
The next stage for Gareth and his family will be to think about him possibly living more independently. They’ll be exploring what options there are for supported living and the DSA, as always, will be on hand to offer information, advice and support.
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.
Thank you so much to everybody who has already donated…thanks to your generosity we’ve already raised £7,000!