Sheffield Support Group Celebrates World Down’s Syndrome Day with Community Walk

Sheffield Down Syndrome Support Group (SHEDS) are celebrating World Down’s Syndrome Day (WDSD) with a walk around Forge Dam, Fulwood on Sunday.

The group is a community run organisation which aims to support families that have a child with Down’s Syndrome that live in and around Sheffield.

SHEDS is not a registered charity, but is a voluntary support group affiliated to the national Down’s Syndrome Association.

The group has been in existence for over 10 years and meet once a month for an informal coffee morning at St Mary’s Church and Conference Centre, Bramall Lane.

Members of SHEDS at a previous meeting

Sarah Hooker, a committee member of SHEDS whose son Stanley, 8, has Down’s Syndrome, said: “The SHEDS group is really important as it is a safe community where parents of kids with Down’s Syndrome can get together, support each other and really understand what is like to have a child with a disability.

“There are so many issues that arise – problems at school, medical issues, behaviour challenges and sleep issues. Families are juggling a lot of things and other siblings often don’t get as much time with their parents.

“I think society still has a stereotyped view of a person with Down’s Syndrome as being happy and jolly and loving music but of course they are just as individual as everyone else!

“I don’t know whether people really understand the challenges of people with Down Syndrome, they really just want the same thing as everyone else. They want empathy not pity.”

All activities for the group are funded by sponsored events organised by committee members and contributions from local businesses.

Members of the group have had small donations from supermarkets in the past, but are struggling to find money to pay for activities like music, dance and outdoor trips.

For WDSD 2015 the group celebrated by setting up a stall in the Winter Gardens as it was the day’s tenth anniversary.

When asked about the “50 Mums, 50 Kids, One Extra Chromosome” carpool karaoke video that’s gone viral this week, Hooker said: “I think that the car pool karaoke has been amazing and has really created tons of awareness this week. Much more than have ever seen in the past.”

Second year Sheffield University student, Megan Bull, 19, who has a younger brother with Down Syndrome called, Joe, 16, said: “I think Joe having Down Syndrome has taught me so much and made me into a more caring person.

“I wouldn’t think I would be who I am today if I didn’t have Joe in my life.

“He struggles with so much like eating out as a family but he brings so much happiness into my family’s lives that we wouldn’t change a thing.”

Megan, 19, with her younger brother, Joe, 16.

WDSD began in after the United Nations General Assembly declared on 19 December 2011 that 21 March would be World Down Syndrome Day.

The date was chosen as the 21st day of the third month each year, in order to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down Syndrome.

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