The South African Federation for Mental Health fully support this theme, and would like to see persons living with Down syndrome being included in all aspects of life. The month of March is also commemorated as Intellectual Disability Awareness Month, and throughout the month SAFMH has been advocating for the right to education for children with severe and profound intellectual disabilities. On World Down Syndrome Day it is important to recognise the importance of allowing all children regardless of their disabilities to access appropriate and inclusive education.
Children with disabilities such as Down syndrome may require specialised care, and are often not included as part of the mainstream education system because it is wrongfully believed that they cannot benefit from education or stimulation. Finding and accessing schools or facilities that can provide this specialised type of care can also be difficult for families, which means that too many children are unable to access education.
It is important that both Government and parents/ caregivers recognise the fact that access to appropriate basic education for these children is essential, and not providing these services within the communities they live in is a violation of their basic human rights. It is also important to recognise that there are many benefits to these children receiving appropriate education and stimulation, as this has the potential to greatly increase their level of functionality.
On World Down Syndrome Day, SAFMH would like to encourage Government, communities and stakeholders to make it possible for children living with Down syndrome to be integrated and accepted as part of their communities, and to have the access to education that they deserve.
For more information on the various events planned countrywide for World Down Syndrome Day, contact:
Down Syndrome South Africa
FOR INQUIRIES INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Programme Manager: Information & Awareness
SA Federation for Mental Health
011 781 1852