A DREAM COME TRUE FOR MANY PARENTS – THEIR CHILD HAS A RIGHT TO AN INCLUSIVE WORLD
Delhi 10th September 2017: The 1st India International Down Syndrome Conference 2017, inaugurated in New Delhi on the 9th September to create awareness and support for people with this medical condition concluded successfully on the 10th of September. The event was the first of its kind where persons with Down syndrome, their parents, caretakers, doctors, researchers and special educators from all over the country all got together to understand the condition and help spread awareness about it.
The Congress was convened under the aegis of Down Syndrome Federation of India and supported by the National Trust, a body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The theme was “Ekam – Born to belong” signifying the inclusivity that is being demanded of for them. More than 450 delegates including 80 persons with Down syndrome from across the country were a part of the conference
IIDSC 2017 recognized the significance of Social awareness, early intervention, Rehabilitative education, social rights, education and employment needs, and the need for the increase in support systems available for people with Down syndrome across our country.
Dr.Surekha Ramachandran, founder of DSFI and DSAT, said, “IIDSC 2017 was a great opportunity in creating awareness, acceptance, education, visibility, and medical facilities for people with intellectual challenges. It will definitely help to raise the profile of people with Down syndrome in India and Asia. We hope that our government will help us in creating an inclusive society for persons with Down syndrome and bring in laws to protect their interests.”
The 1st IIDSC was organized at the India Habitat Center and inaugurated by Mr. Yuri Afanasiev, UN Resident Coordinator for India, who himself is a father of a 24 year old with Down syndrome. He spoke about his experiences as a father and touched a chord with every parent present there. The special guest was Shri Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor, Government of India who released the book written by Dr. Surekha Ramachandran titled “Down but not Out” based on her experiences with depression faced by her daughter Babli who is a person with Down syndrome.
There were 50 speakers who spoke on various topics including Health and Life skills including education and employment. Parents had so many questions, this forum helped them clear quite a few doubts.
The function came to a close with 2 sets of awards being given – The DSFI Excellence Awards and the APDSF Excellence Awards. There were 3 categories for which nominations were called for.
- Outstanding Self Advocate for Down syndrome
- Outstanding Efforts for the Cause of Down syndrome
- Outstanding Research in the field of Down syndrome.
The first category winner was Ms. Devanshi Joshi from Delhi, a self advocate who is also employed and earns her living. The second category winner was Dr. Gurjit Kaur from Chandigarh who has worked a lot in the field of Down syndrome and is an important member of the Chandigarh Down Syndrome Society. The third category did not have enough nominations for the award to be given.
The APDSF awards also were given for same categories and the awards went to Australia and Myanmar for categories 1 and 2. No nominations were received under the Research category.
The event came to a close with people going back with a lot of new friends and a lot of positive information. The message was that Persons with Down syndrome had a right to be a part of society like anybody else.
Down Syndrome Federation of India” (DSFI), an organization that offers support to individuals with Down’s Syndrome and their families through various Down’s Syndrome Institutions across India. DSFI is registered with the Office of the State Commissioner for the Differently Able, Government of Tamil Nadu under Section 52 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
Established in the year 1984, with 6 children, DSFI today serves innumerable children not only around India, but also the Middle East. Dr. Surekha Ramachandran’s brainchild, DSFI has been a constant source of support and encouragement for people who are unable to come to terms with Down Syndrome. DSFI has been working for the cause of all those who are affected by Down syndrome – whether it is individuals with Down Syndrome, parents or siblings. Among the services offered include counseling families that need assistance with regards to raising their children,, training children to become more independent, providing physiotherapy, and speech therapy, and spreading awareness about Down syndrome.
Down Syndrome Association of Tamilnadu (DSAT) has been a forerunner in bringing about thought transformation for people associated with Down Syndrome. The various therapies –occupational, behavioral, vocational, speech and physio has brought about a remarkable transformation in individuals who now seem more confident. Lot of research programs, awareness and outreach programs, specialized out-patient services, and early intervention programs are also conducted and coordinated.