Manitoba Down Syndrome Society
WHAT THEY DO:
A support and awareness organization for individuals with Down syndrome, their families and support workers, and the general public.
HOW TO HELP:
Cheques can be sent to MDSS, 204-825 Sherbrook St., Winnipeg, MB R3A 1M5. For questions call 992-2731 or go to www.mbdss.ca
Children with Down syndrome no longer face a life shut away in an institution, but they still face challenges in society.
Ken Hodges, president of the Manitoba Down Syndrome Society, said an ongoing issue is with inclusion in schools.
"There's certainly a challenge with the school system on how to provide full inclusion for children and what that looks like," said Hodges whose family joined the organization about 13 years ago after the birth of his son, Braden.
"There is support across the country for inclusion, but it is still a work in progress for how it will look."
Hodges said that's one of the reasons for the existence of the society.
The MDSS has been helping people with Down syndrome and families since 1991.
The organization believes people with Down syndrome have the right -- like all Manitobans -- to participate fully in all aspects of community life.
Hodges said the organization runs an annual workshop for educators and families called See Me Beautiful to show how children with Down syndrome can be welcomed into classrooms.
The organization also provides new parents of Down syndrome children with a kit that includes the book, Babies with Down Syndrome, and a new parents' guide.
As well, the organization can send trained volunteer parents to meet with the new parents and organizes special Baby Love events for them to meet other families with Down syndrome babies.
Hodges said they also run several activities for all ages including parent networking evenings, family fun days, and youth groups.
To raise funds and increase awareness, the organization holds a Buddy Walk in the fall.
"We always want to raise awareness and understanding of people with Down syndrome," Hodges said.