MORE ABOUT THE DOWN SYNDROME ASSOCIATION TSWANE
The Association consists of members from the Gauteng, Northern Province, Mpumalanga, Free State and North-West Province. Members are families of children with Down syndrome and professionals working with persons with Down syndrome. The birth rate of children with Down syndrome is 1 in every 700 babies.
Trained support parents visit the parents of a newborn baby with Down syndrome in the hospital and at home in order to provide information and the necessary emotional support. It has been shown that with early intervention and the necessary stimulation, children with Down syndrome make wonderful progress and can even go to mainstream schools. To help children reach their maximum potential and prepare them for mainstream school; the Association refers families to the appropriate therapists. As per of our philosophy of inclusion, the Association provides a service to parents and children who are already incorporated in mainstream education or who find it difficult to enrol their child with special educational needs into mainstream schools. Facilitators visit the schools on request, and twice a year a teacher-training workshop is presented. Many of the children in the Pretoria branch are currently attending mainstream schools.
Our outreach drive offers weekly parent guidance and early Intervention programmes which are presented at Garankuwa, Valhalla Primary School and at the offices of the association. Children with Down syndrome 10-11 years), and children who are developmentally challenged are accommodated. Counsellors and therapists are available Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Services are funded by the association and offered for free. The ‘Jeans and Tekkies club is a social club for our teenagers and young adults with Down syndrome 016 years and older). Bimonthly we organize a sokkie /disco night for them. Annually a camp is arranged. The ultimate goal of this club is to facilitate the process through which they can reach a level of social independence that could facilitate their inclusion into the open labour market.
In line with this policy we have a supported employment initiative. The worldwide trend is to try to include people with a disability into everyday life. We aim to support all persons with Down syndrome and people with other disabilities to find suitable work in the open labour market and thus give them a sense of fulfilllment and self worth as well as contribute to the economy of South Africa.
Our public awareness campaign has several aspects which include a time slot on Radio Rippel, 90. fm, every first Thursday of the month; National day celebrations; the magazine ‘The Bullettin’ which contains articles from members and other pertinent information.
We are also fortunate to have several patrons who help to promote the aims of the association. Amongst them are Anna-Mart van der Merwe and recently ‘Thys die Bosveldklong’ was welcomed into the association and has offered to be our ambassador we are looking forward to a rewarding relationship. Sadly, Ivan Zimmerman is no longer as actively involved as he has relocated to Cape Town.