Winners all the way

Determination speaks

Winners all the way

These children are special and truly talented. They can excel in all fields if given an opportunity. Even though more awareness is being created in the society about Down Syndrome, there is still a gap that cannot be ignored and parents of these children feel it could easily be bridged with just a little more sensitisation towards their needs. With March 21 being World Down Syndrome Day,  special children and their families spoke to ‘Metrolife’ about their achievements.

Esther Thomas, the founder of Divya Downs 

Development Trust in Viveknagar, organises something special every year on the occasion. This year,  she is organising a walkathon in association with Down’s Syndrome Association of Karnataka on March 20 at 9 am at Freedom Park. “We will call a specialist to talk to the parents. Sometimes, we also have cultural programmes where the children can showcase their talent,” she explains.

The trust is named after her 24-year-old daughter Divya. “I was working in St John’s Medical College Hospital when Divya was born. Though I was aware of the syndrome, it was still a setback for me. A few years later, I quit my job and did a course in mental retardation to help my daughter,” she recalls. Esther worked as an educator in special schools before starting the trust in 2004 with four kids. “Today, we have 30 children,” she says proudly.

In fact, Divya is an assistant teacher at the trust and conducts activities for the children of grade one and two. “I love teaching as I love my students,” she says while adding that stitching and shopping are her favourite pastimes. Irene, another teacher of the trust who has Down Syndrome, says, “When I am free, I like stitching and drawing and also follow cricket.”

Ace swimmer Kushal is a 21-year-old boy with Down Syndrome and recently qualified for the World Summer Games 2015 that will be held in Los Angeles in July-August. His parents are ecstatic. “As parents, we have to understand that we are the child’s only support.

Only if we can be a role model to them can they excel,” says his mother Sudha Duth. Kushal, who also works as a store assistant in The Chancery Pavilion, is very excited. “I want to be the world champion,” he exclaims proudly. Practising diligently everyday for one hour in the morning and evening, he says, “I also enjoy my job and have made many friends there.”

Anand Honnavalli is a 26-year-old badminton champion and works at The Gateway Hotel. He won several medals at the Special Olympics Asia Pacific Regional Games 2013 in Australia. His mother Chaya Sudesh says, “We, as parents, have to take the first step.

Otherwise nothing will change,” she notes. She feels the support of government is a must. “There are many vacancies in various organisations and if these children could be placed, the situation would surely improve. People also should be more sensitive to their needs.”

According to Esther, the society has changed a lot over the years. “There is definitely a lot more awareness. But parents have to realise that early intervention is important. If you start early, you can integrate them to some level in the mainstream. Unlike normal children, these children have to learn each skill at the right time else they will take even longer to grasp them,” she sums up.  

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