Dozens turn out for association fundraiser

Beau Campbell (11), of Dunedin, strikes out during a game of cricket at the Otago Down Syndrome Association's picnic in Woodhaugh Gardens yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Beau Campbell (11), of Dunedin, strikes out during a game of cricket at the Otago Down Syndrome Association's picnic in Woodhaugh Gardens yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Extra chromosomes were celebrated at an Otago Down Syndrome Association picnic in Dunedin yesterday.

Organised as an association fundraiser in acknowledgement of World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, the picnic attracted dozens of families to Woodhaugh Gardens.

Many in attendance wore T-shirts with the slogan ''Keep calm, it's only an extra chromosome''.

Highlanders Ben Smith and Phil Burleigh helped with a sausage sizzle and others ran a bake sale, while children with Down syndrome played cricket and participated in a range of activities.

Association convener Karola Franklyn, of Dunedin, said children with Down syndrome were ''just as difficult or just as easy'' as any other child.

She and other parents of Down syndrome children formed the association almost three years ago because there was no such social or support group in the area at the time.

It started with a small number of family gatherings and social events, but Mrs Franklyn said as word spread about the association more people from throughout Otago were becoming involved.

She had increasing numbers of calls from adults with Down syndrome looking for solidarity and support, as well as women pregnant with Down syndrome babies.

''One of the biggest problems for people with Down syndrome, especially adults, is isolation,'' she said.

The association has also started organising professional development courses for teachers to learn about dealing with Down syndrome pupils.

Mrs Franklyn said the courses had been well attended, as teachers welcomed the specialist training.

-rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

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