Qatar Foundation's Ability Friendly Programme celebrated World Down Syndrome Day with several activities.

Aimed at fostering inclusivity, diversity, and enhancing accessibility, there were a host of entertainment for people of all ages at the event held at Oxygen Park in Education City.

Amid a family-oriented environment, the event aimed to increase awareness and support for those with Down syndrome, promoting greater understanding and acceptance within the community. A variety of child-friendly activities were included, from an inflatable castle and sports, to face painting and solidarity walk.

Maha Omar Kamel, who attended the event with her son, a child with Down syndrome, said: “Finding activities where my son can interact with others has always been a challenge. This event, promoting inclusivity and acceptance for people with Down syndrome, not only aids us, the parents, but also provides our children with a platform to enjoy and share a delightful day together.

"I wish for participation in this day to extend beyond just individuals with Down syndrome and their families, embracing all members of society regardless of age. It's important for everyone to learn about and celebrate this group, participating as a unified community.”

Kamel noted that stigma still surrounds the people with Down syndrome, continuing to be a challenge for both the parents and their children, but believes events like this play a crucial role in raising awareness for everyone.

Rawida Gharizi, who attended the event with her daughter Maysoon Maamoun, who also has Down syndrome, expressed her happiness at seeing her daughter actively participating in the event’s activities, especially the face painting segment, which reflects her daughter’s passion for art

She said: “My daughter often expresses herself through drawing and art, and seeing her at the event doing something she loves is wonderful. It's clear that the variety of activities offered has allowed everyone here today to engage in something they're passionate about.”

“Engaging in these activities plays a crucial role in enhancing their emotional health, providing a substantial uplift in their morale. It offers not only a sense of joy and fulfillment, but also contributes positively to their overall psychological state, fostering a feeling of well-being and happiness.”

Nigel D'Souza, events and programme coordinator at the Ability Friendly Programme, noted: “It’s an avenue to celebrate people with Down syndrome and their achievements. We have some good athletes with Down syndrome in the programme, who also have other talents in music, singing, and more.”

D'Souza highlighted the event as “a fun way to spread awareness.” He elaborated on the broader significance of such events: "Hosting public inclusive events plays a crucial role in raising understanding. It provides a unique opportunity for the community to unite, enjoy, and maybe even experience something memorable together."

D’Souza added: "There is sometimes a stigma associated with some families who have members with the disability, so having events and days like this is showing the community that people with Down syndrome are an equal part of our society with similar dreams and aspirations.”
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