World Down Syndrome Day, 21 March, is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. On this day, people all around the world celebrate the lives and achievements of people with Down syndrome, creating a global voice, advocating for the rights, inclusion and wellbeing of people with Down syndrome.
On 31st of March, I was given the opportunity to be a part of one of the most significant projects organized by the Community Service team of the Rotaract District Committee together with the host clubs, The World Down Syndrome Day Celebrations Sri Lanka- 2018, which was held at Visakha Vidyalaya from 8 am onwards. This was truly a life changing experience due to several invaluable reasons. I was able to witness one of the most impactful community service initiatives where Rotaract 3220 empowered the lives of more than three hundred and fifty children affected by Down syndrome across Sri Lanka.
It was both inspiring and soul searching to see the people suffering from this condition and be a part of an event that celebrated their skills. The project this year was specially designed to introduce and implement a series of sustainable initiatives by providing long-term solutions for the participant children and their institutes.
Morning session started off with a medical camp in collaboration with Lady Ridgeway Hospital, which included an eye clinic and pediatricians, nutritionist, ENT specialists, child and adolescent psychiatrists, cardiologists, ophthalmologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists were there to exam the children.
At the event, the children who were present for the occasion had in store for us a multitude of beautiful paintings. Seeing those children and their wonderful gifts brought tears of joy to our eyes. Entertainment activities had been organized for the children throughout the day. A specialized training program, empowerment session and a sustainable educative forum was conducted with the Ministry of Education and the Sri Lanka association for Child Development, by targeting the parents and teachers. This was followed by a Q & A session with a representative from the Ministry of Education.
The event was rounded off by a thoroughly enjoyable talent show which displayed the various skills these children possessed. It was emotional to see them go about in their various dances and songs. Next was the award ceremony where the winners of the art competition were recognized and participation certificates to the children were awarded. Afterwards all of us got the chance to dance with those children which was really enjoyable.
I am honored to be a part of an event that created the most noble of difference in a child’s life and it was truly a remarkable day and we had a wonderful time because we got to celebrate all aspects of the Down Syndrome community which recognized the obstacles so many people with Down Syndrome face, but also included people’s different interests and achievements.
Written by –
Rtr. Dilini De Silva