People with disabilities like all people, are born into families and they are part of their respective families. It is every family members wish to be able to play a part in supporting their members with disabilities to live full lives and to enjoy equal opportunities in the family, in the community and in society. However, families need information and support to empower themselves to successfully meet this desire.

Many family members of and including persons with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities do not fully understand what Down syndrome is. Often they receive misleading information from health care workers. It is therefore vital that our members are informed of the correct information and empowered to be able to know their rights in order to access necessary services that they so desperately need.

For family development and empowerment to be effective, it must be ongoing, based not only on the use of written information but other teaching methods, which includes hands on teaching in the home environment.

DSSAs mandate as per 5.1 of our Constitution is to:

  • To provide information and facilitate communication among Down syndrome organisations in South Africa and other role players in the field of intellectual disabilities.

The objective of this project is that family members as well as service providers will be invited to participate in workshops to empower them on issues that will:

  • Reduce stigmatisation and segregation of people with intellectual disabilities in communities, in order to improve their quality of life;
  • Learn their rights as family member or as a person with a disability as per The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as well as the New White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
  • As a service provider what should i know and what can i do?

The set objectives would lead to the following outcomes:

  • Stigma and negative attitudes towards persons with intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome will be reduced by examples of best practice;
  • Parents will have a better understanding of their rights and will trust and have confidence in inclusive practices to achieve an improved quality of life for their children through a support manual that addresses various development stages;
  • Service providers will have a better understanding of challenges faced by family members of children with Down syndrome, therefore improving their access to vital services.

The project will be implemented in the following outreaches in Kimberly (Galeshewe), Potchefstroom (Ikageng) Tzaneen (Nwamitwa), Tshwane Gauteng and in order to grow our national footprint the establishment of a new support group in Polokwane.