Raising awareness for Down syndrome

News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Flower City Down Syndrome Network will host its annual Buddy Walk this Sunday, October 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the RIT Gordon Field House.

FCDSN President Brian Callahan discussed what’s on tap and why raising awareness for those with Down syndrome is so important Tuesday during News 8 at Noon.

“We have lots of things for everybody,” Callahan said of the Buddy Walk. “We have games for adults and kids. We have silent auction raffles, food trucks are going to be there, and lots of celebrating for Down Syndrome Awareness Month, which is in October.”

Callahan said everyone is welcome at the Buddy Walk. “Lots of families bring extended family and friends. I know we’re going to have a big contingency. They’re wearing team shirts and things like that. So yes, anyone who wants to just show up and see what we’re about is more than welcome.”

The Flower City Down Syndrome Network is there to help families in need. “Most families when they get a Down syndrome diagnosis, they’re a bit fearful, which is understandable,” explained Callahan. “We’re often scared of what we don’t know. So we’re there kind of as a conduit to provide some resources and mentors. We have a program called First Call and the families that are new, or even families that haven’t connected with us before can use the mentor program that we have. Families with adults with Down syndrome have certain needs for housing, or they want to work. They want to be independent. So we try to help them find ways to do that from that standpoint.”

Callahan believes our community is doing a good job helping folks with Down syndrome live their best lives. “We have a really extensive community of caretakers. We have medical personnel for our children. There are occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech therapists who are involved in – not just children with Down syndrome – but children who have all kinds of special needs.”

He added, “Awareness for us is a big deal because we’re not raising money to cure anything. We’re helping to change perceptions. So in order to do that, we need to get in the community and let people know that people with Down syndrome can do whatever they want to do – just like the rest of us. They can find jobs. They can be independent. They can become business owners. People with Down syndrome and getting married and doing what they want to do. So that actually goes a long way for us – for people to actually just be there. If you can’t support us financially, just come by to see what we’re doing, and see the independence and see the kids that are acting like every other kid, and see the adults that just want to live independent lives like the rest of us do. So that’s the biggest message we can spread right now.”

For more information, visit the FCDSN website.

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