Singapore

Society more understanding of Down syndrome now

Changing a person's mindset or attitude is not impossible but it will take time.

According to Mr Moses Lee, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association Singapore (DSA), society is now more understanding about people with Down syndrome.

When DSA was established in 1996, it saw a limited awareness of Down syndrome.

Mr Lee 42, told The New Paper: "Over the last two decades, society has opened up more and is more receptive to and understanding of people with Down syndrome.

"This is very encouraging to see as we are all working towards Singapore being a more accepting and inclusive society."

The change can largely be attributed to an increase in education, awareness campaigns, community outreach and volunteer work from the community, he added.

During this time, DSA has also evolved and developed its programmes and services.

Today, the four key services it provides are children's education services, adult education services, enrichment programmes and family support services.

In 2004, it developed its Adult Enhancement Programme (AEP), which aids in developing young adults with Down syndrome with vocational and social skills.

One member of the AEP, Mr Benjamin Lee, 31, who has been in the programme since 2009, told TNP that he learnt about money, computer and cooking skills.

Said Mr Lee: "I'm good at cooking and I'm helping my mum with it."

He also enjoys going to AEP as he gets to see his friends and trainers.

DSA established the Integrated Facilitation Support Programme (IFSP) in 2009, to help give a person with Down syndrome the opportunity to benefit from a mainstream education environment, from kindergarten to primary school.

Anna Ow, 14, who graduated from IFSP in 2017, is now in Crest Secondary School.

"I enjoy going to school, and I like all my subjects," she said, adding that her friends and teachers are what she enjoy about school.

"My teachers are nice and teach us in a fun way."

Anna also takes part in several enrichment programmes at DSA, such as creative dance, baking and bowling.

"I want to show that whatever people can do, we can also do it," she said.

The World Down Syndrome Day celebration will be held on March 16 at Our Tampines Hub. The event consists of a community walk, followed by a family carnival with food, games and performances by several DSA activity groups.

Anna is particularly excited about the performances.

"I will be performing three dances with my creative dance team," she said. "I am very excited because I really like dancing."

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