In Liberia, it is a common rumor that people have Down Syndrome because of witchcraft or their mother’s unfaithfulness. These rumors are all wrong. Down Syndrome is a genetic condition which is caused when a random error occurs during cell division that results in an extra copy of chromosome 21.
How can you tell if someone has Down Syndrome? They may have shorter fingers, toes, legs, and arms; or have a small stature and short neck. Other times, they may have a large space between the large and second toe, a protruding tongue, almond eyes, and low muscle tone. Additionally, many may have health issues throughout their lives such as hearing loss, poor vision or heart defects.
Individuals with DS usually have cognitive development profiles indicative of mild to moderate mental retardation.
In Liberia, many children are not diagnosed and can easily be misidentified without the intervention of a trained medical professional. My Heart’s Appeal is an organization that has partnered with the Liberia Medical Dental Association to identify and locate these special children in our society.
MHA is also joining the Down Syndrome Association of Liberia and Down Syndrome International in the United Kingdom to announce the 10th World Down Syndrome Day, with the theme “‘My Opportunities, My Choices’ – Enjoying Full and Equal Rights and the Role of Families.” This is MHA’s third WDSD event in Liberia and it will be held Saturday 21, March 2015.
Liberia has not been declared Ebola Free as of yet, so we celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Day as a closed event this year only for families and guests of individuals with Down syndrome.
DSAL will host a parent forum and family fun day for the children. The parent forum will focus on the role of families and the positive contribution that they can make towards full and equal rights for Liberians with DS. In Liberia, people with DS face very limited life opportunities. Many people fail to understand that people with DS are people first. They may require additional support, but society needs to recognize them without discrimination on the basis of their disability.
MHA hopes to change that with your help. With around 7 million people with DS living worldwide, it is the most common and recognized form of learning or intellectual disability. MHA invites you to be a part of the awareness campaign as it is moving Liberia forward in acceptance of DS individuals in society.
Be a partner and help locate these special children in your communities and direct them to the local office located in Gaye Town, Sinkor Old Road; opposite St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Montserrado County. Visit their website at this address online www.myheartsappeal.org, call numbers 0888101049 or 0777437443, and email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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