A POSITIVE future exists for children born with Down Syndrome – that was the message sent out at a recent HB Ice Cream Funday in County Waterford.
Helen Carey, whose niece Joey was born with Down Syndrome, organised the hugely successful event in Stradbally which took place on Saturday, June 13th and has so far raised more than €5,500.
Parents of children with Down Syndrome were present, allowing them to share experiences and offer advice.
Mary Foskin from Kilmoylin, Kilmacthomas was in attendance with her 15-year-old son Daniel as was Siobhan Hassett from Ballydurn, Newtown with her four-year-old son Mick.
Both women believe that events such as the HB Fundays offer a wonderful experience and allow parents of new babies born with Down Syndrome to see that a bright future exists.
Mary and Siobhan say that it is important for children with Down Syndrome to be included in mainstream settings.
“It’s very important that parents of children with Down Syndrome are here today,” she said.
“Everybody can see that children with Down Syndrome are the same as everybody else and that they should be included in everything. It just takes longer for them to reach their milestones and they need more support.”
Both Mary and Siobhan are members of the Waterford and South Kilkenny branch of Down Syndrome Ireland which holds regular branch meetings, organises activities such as speech therapy, horse riding, swimming lessons etc.
“All the money raised for Down Syndrome Ireland contributes to all of those things that we run as a branch,” explained Siobhan.
The branch has around 100 members and volunteerism is at its core.
“It’s great to have a network of parents where you can obtain advice and knowledge and bounce ideas off each other and get tips,” said Siobhan.
“It’s not just the child with Down Syndrome which benefits. The parents, siblings, all the extended family, benefit as well.”
Mary said involvement with the branch is particularly beneficial for fathers of children with Down Syndrome.
“It’s nice for them to get together and have a chat among themselves and it’s an outlet for them,” she said.
Siobhan added: “From the outside looking in, people think it’s difficult having a child with special needs, and yes it has its difficulties. The difficulties are probably most prominent in the early stages when the future seems so uncertain. But the benefits and joys far outweigh whatever difficulties you come up against.”
The Tour de Munster, which raises huge money for Down Syndrome Ireland, takes place again this August.
The Charity Cycle starts in Waterford City on Thursday, August 6th and finishes in Cork on Sunday August 9th.
For further information, visit www.tourdemunster.com.