Samoa celebrates World Down Syndrome Day

Senese, Fia Malamalama and Loto Taumafai celebrated World Down Syndrome Day through a fun day for the children this morning at Tuanaimato.

In collaboration with Ministry of Education Sports and Culture (MESC), Nuanua o le Alofa and Samoa Cricket Association, the main goal was to spread awareness under the theme, “Leave No one behind in Education.”

Malama Parker from Senese said the theme of the celebration embodies the objective and inspiration behind their services, catering for down syndrome children.

"This is what our services are all about and what today’s all about; to encourage the parents that the children to attend schools because they can and they are able to attend schools," she said.

The fun day started with prayers led by Rev. Epati Setefano of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa at Lepea, followed by keynote remarks by the MESC Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Vau Peseta.

According to Ms. Parker, Senese, Fia Malamalama and Loto Taumafai all have down syndrome children, not counting others who attend public primary schools out in their own villages.

"I don’t have exact data on the number of down syndrome children we have but for us Senese we have 15, Loto Taumafai they have about 14, and Fia Malamalama are also around that number.

"Plus down syndrome adults who no longer attend school, there is about 10 of them, under Nuanua ole Alofa who are all here today," she added. 

Ms. Parker also emphasised the need to address the down syndrome community correctly.

"We still hear people say they are ‘sick children’, even with parents. But they are not, if they were sick, they would have been given medicine and they’ll be better but no, it’s a natural effect.

"We need to give them the respect they deserve; we should not underestimate them," she added. 

Down syndrome is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangements, which has always been a part of the human condition and commonly results in variable effects on learning styles, physical characteristics or health.

The children were treated to zumba, cricket activities, face painting, bubble making and lots of food plus special prizes which were given out, while their parents attended a parents forum facilitated by International Ecumenical Working Group members (IEWG).

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