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Go21 Walk celebrates Down syndrome

Annual event aims to support families, inform community

The Down Syndrome Association of Sudbury celebrated its annual GO21 Walk on Sunday to celebrate National Down Syndrome awareness week. 

About 400 people gathered at Lockerby Composite School on Ramsey View Court to kick off National Down Syndrome Awareness Week, “in recognition of the unique strengths and abilities of people with Down Syndrome,” organizers said in a news release. “By focusing on these strengths and abilities, we work to ensure equitable opportunities for all Canadians with Down syndrome.

“GO21 is all about positive momentum for people with Down syndrome and their families in Canada.”

The '21' in the name refers to extra chromosomal material from the 21st chromosome that determines if a person has Down syndrome. The Down syndrome community identifies with 21 as a unique number that stands out. 

“GO21 is a celebration of Down syndrome,” the release said. “Like how spectators in a sport yell 'Go!Team!Go!,' we are celebrating our community with this name: 'GO21.'”

GO21 has several goals to in mind, including making communities safer for people with Down syndrome, allowing them and their families to make friends and strengthen their community.

“It is a great opportunity to learn more about people with Down syndrome, their challenges and their accomplishments,” the release said. “It encourages dialogue about all aspects of Down syndrome.”

The Down Syndrome Association of Sudbury formed in 1988. The Association offers support to more than 55 families in the Greater Sudbury area. Parents of people with Down syndrome lead and direct the organization. 

“We are a non-profit, self-help group supported by local foundations and families and friends of the DSAS,” the release said.

Down syndrome is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that is universal across racial, gender and socio-economic lines. The effects of this extra genetic material vary from individual to individual. Down syndrome commonly results in an effect on learning style, although the differences are highly variable, just as physical characteristics or health concerns. 

“With assistance, opportunities exist for effective methods of teaching each individual, the release said.

Services the Association offers include:

-- personal support to parents of a newborn child with Down syndrome.

-- informing parents, professionals, students and other interested people about Down syndrome and have many up to date resources for members.

-- information sessions to parents of individuals with Down syndrome.

-- strategies for teachers with regards to the inclusion of a student with Down syndrome into their classroom.

-- financial assistance to assist families with the purchase of direct services.

-- family activities, including a Christmas party and a new parents support group; and,

-- fundraising activities.


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Darren MacDonald

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