Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Gibraltar conference on Down’s Syndrome opens

by Alice Mascarenhas

Lady Richards, patron of the recently formed Down’s Syndrome Support Group yesterday officially opened the first Gibraltar conference on Down’s Syndrome ‘Towards a Brighter Future’ at the Eliott Hotel.

Organising a conference of this magnitude she said was a remarkable achievement for a group that had only been in existence for just two weeks. Praising the work of the driving force behind the group, Annette Zammit and Jane Payas, Lady Richards described them as “two very remarkable ladies”.

“It is entirely due to their drive and determination that we are all here today. Like others of you here they both have children with Down’s Syndrome and know at first hand the special pleasures and challenges that are part of these children,” she said.

The group she said was formed so that all parents could share experiences, problems and advise and latest information with the ultimate aim being for these children to lead better and fuller lives. “But the parents can’t do it all on their own, and that is where you all come in,” she added.

“Everyone of you has a vital role to play if children in Gibraltar with Down’s are to develop their full potential. Each and everyone of you has not just to be sympathetic, they have to be wholly committed to helping these children, and fully informed about the best way to do it,” Lady Richards told those present."

“All too often in the past, in the wider world, society has failed children with Down’s, because they have concentrated on what they can’t do and not on what they can,” she added.

The final message, as she declared the conference open, was that with the right teaching children with Down’s Syndrome, and adolescence, and probably adults, can make extraordinary progress.

The conference has brought together some 150 delegates from throughout Gibraltar; parents, educators, health professionals, carers, Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) and MoD, and the participation of some of the leading experts in the UK including Professor Sue Buckley, a world-renowned chartered psychologist with over thirty years of experience in the field of developmental disability, Professor Ben Sacks, a consultant developmental psychiatrist and medical advisor with over forty years experience in the field of psychiatry and disability.

Annette Zammit, chairwoman of the group, introduced her committee, and spoke of the group and its formation. Glad to see such a good turnout she called on all those present to help achieve the objectives of the group.

The two day conference has been looking at the development of speech, language, literacy, memory and numeracy skills. Developing motor skills – for writing and in class activities and inclusion in sports and PE, and ensuring social inclusion.

Today the conference will ask what the specific social, language and cognitive profiles associated with Down’s syndrome are and the implications for education in middle and secondary years.

The conference will be officially closed later today by Education Minister Dr Bernard Linares.

Related Articles and Links:

The Down’s Syndrome Association of the United Kingdom (DSA)

Down Syndrome Educational Trust

Sarah Duffen Centre

Down Syndrome Information Network UK

24 September 2005 - Launch of Gibraltar's Down's Syndrome support group

23 September 2005 - Gibraltar to have own Down’s Syndrome Support Group


Post a Comment

<< Home