Posted 09:00AM on Monday 21 March 2016
21 March 2016 marks the 11th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day. Down Syndrome is a genetic condition that typically causes some level of learning disability and characteristic physical features. Each year, the voice of people with Down Syndrome, and those who live and work with them, is growing louder. People with Down Syndrome must be able to enjoy full and equal rights, both as children and adults.
Mary is 26 years old and has Down Syndrome. She lives in rural Fermanagh with her parents and is supported twice a week by our Lakeland Supported Living Service. Here, Mary’s mum tells us just how important the right support is for those with Down Syndrome.
“Mary has been supported by Positive Futures since she was 14 years old, initially through the Lakeland Family Support Service where she was supported to make friends with children of her own age group and to go out and have fun. This support had an amazing impact on Mary’s life as it helped her to develop skills in making friends, developed her confidence and helped with her speech and social skills.
When Mary turned 18 it was time to say good–bye to the Service she had known and loved for 4 years. Mary was sad to leave but we have continued to stay in touch with staff in the Service and are still proud supporters at all their events.
Following her time with the Lakeland Family Support Service, Mary expected to continue with a course she had been engaged with in her local college, but due to insufficient numbers the course was cancelled. Mary was devastated. This meant that she would have two days per week with nothing to do. Mary is a very social, able person who loves getting out and meeting people and when this outlet was taken away from her it began to affect her health. Mary became withdrawn and her speech began to decline. I could see she was deteriorating as each day passed and was worried for her future.
Not sure what to do, we turned to Positive Futures, this time to the Lakeland Supported Living Service, to see if there were any opportunities for Mary. Staff were eager to help and in December 2015 Mary once again began to be supported by the Service on a “self–funding” basis. Mary now enjoys 1:1 support from the staff who she loves to see every week. Mary volunteers on a Thursday in the Lakeland Office, helping out with admin jobs, and on a Friday she volunteers in the local Euro Spar.
These social outlets have helped Mary begin to get back the skills that she was starting to loose and she is now coming home every Thursday and Friday full of stories about her day! I can’t tell you how delighted I am that Mary is now a valued member of the teams, both in the Positive Futures’ Lakeland Office and the Euro Spar.
Without Positive Futures’ support these opportunities simply would not have been available to Mary and I can’t even imagine what might have happened to my out–going daughter who just loves life! We can’t thank Positive Futures enough for supporting us in such a positive way through tough times.”