The Down Syndrome Foundation Nigeria (DSFN), has embarked on an awareness campaign to sensitise Nigerians on the need to shun all sorts discrimination against persons with disabilities, particularly Down Syndrome.
The President of the Foundation, Mrs Rosemary Mordi, said on Saturday in Lagos that the essence of the walk was to create awareness that people living with the syrome should not be segregated and discriminated against from the rest of the society.
Newsmen reports that theme of the programme was: “Leave No One Behind”.
According to her, individuals with Down Syndrome are left behind in the past.
“There are lots of potential in the children living with Down Syndrome which will manifest if they are given the necessary support and opportunities to develop their potentials,” she said.
Mordi said that lots of parents who lacked awareness/education were still discriminating and hiding children living with the syrome, stressing that the walk was aimed at informing such parents to bring them out to be trained.
“There are still some ignorance and stigmas surrounding this condition because in the past children with the condition were left behind. Till today, some families still neglect these children, it is not supposed to be so.
“They are just like every other child and are mostly endowed with lots of potential, so they should be given necessary support to full participate and be part of the society.
“Down Syndrome is a condition in which extra genetic material causes delay in the ways a child develops, both mentally and physically. Down syndrome is not a disease, therefore cannot be cured.
“The condition can only be managed. People with Down syndrome benefit from loving homes, appreciate early medical intervention, educational and vocational services,” Mordi said.
She, therefore, advocated that necessary structures/measures should be put in place to give people with Down syndrome the opportunity to unleash their potentials and live independent and fulfilled life just like anyone else.
While commending the Federal and Lagos State Government for signing the ‘Disability Bill’ into Law, Mordi called for effective implementation of the law.
“Yes, we applaud governments for signing the disability law which has been pending for over 18 years ago, but implementation is key because without enforcement the law is like a toothless bulldog.
“This because in Nigeria today, there are still discriminations against people with disabilities but with effective implementation of the law, it will be a punishable offense to discriminated against them,” Mordi said.
Also speaking, Mrs Ijeoma Fine-Country, a Parent of a Down syndrome child, said that there was absolutely nothing sad about having a childreb with having the syndrome.
Fine-Country said that it was natural for a parent to feel sad or neglected for having a child diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
“No doubt, a parent will be shocked and sad after being told that his/her child is having Down Syndrome.
“But after that initial shock, I have to quickly get myself educated on the condition. Down Sydrome children are like every other human being; just like some people are albinos, tall, short, dark or fair in complexion.
“For my case, I was lucky that my daughter with down syndrome did not have some of the congenital heart defects, respiratory and hearing problems often associated with the condition.
“So, am not really having much challenges nursing her, because I never slept for a night in the hospital with her because of the condition except for the fact that she is above three years now and still yet to speak.
“But am optimistic that since we intervene on her condition early, everything will be corrected with time because early intervention is key in the management of the syndrome,” she said.
Fine-Country, therefore, advised parents of Down Syndrome children to accommodate and show love to them with their whole heart.