Address details

Down Syndrome NSW
Level 6/410 Church St, North Parramatta
9am-5pm Monday - Thursday
T: 9841 444

Saturday, 28 July 2007

What do we do all day?

There is always something happening at Down Syndrome NSW - it is a much livelier place than you might imagine! The second half of 2007 is shaping up as a busy few months for us. Here's a run-down on the events planned so far:

All of this happens in addition to the day-to-day activities such as supporting families of newborns with visits, phone calls, resources and referrals (we have had nearly forty notifications of newborns up to the middle of July); taking inquiries by phone and email; visits by families and professionals to use the library and talk with staff; managing the library; publishing Updates and Newsletters and our Calendar; keeping the website up-to-date; fundraising and marketing (without which we cannot do our work); reporting to funding bodies; and managing the organisation. And there are meetings, and reading to keep up with the wider disabiiity sector, government and community happenings.

And then there's the UP! Club and the Up, Up and Away Project, both setting a brisk pace that leaves the rest us of breathless.

That's why this Blog doesn't get written more often ......

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

What's Under Your Hat?

"What's Under Your Hat" came to notice when it recently screened in Sydney as part of the Spanish film festival - not somewhere we would usually look for a film about a person with Down syndrome, especially not an American. We are indebted to Dean Watson, or very own arts and culture monitor, who brought it to our attention.

This very powerful film is one of three we have discovered about Judith Scott, who became renowned as a sculptor, after an inauspicious start to life, and many years of living in a State institution with her needs and abilities unrecognised and unsupported. Judith's great good fortune was to be born a twin - her sister Joyce was able to eventually reconnect with her, rescue her from the institution, and introduce her to the Creative Growth Art Centre, in Oakland, California, where her artistic expression flourished.
Lola Barrera (director) and Julio Medem (producer) have given us a film that is more than documentary - it is engaging, confronting, uplifting, heartbreaking, hopeful, deeply respectful of the art that is its focus, and at times very funny.
DS NSW will try to obtain a DVD copy for our library. If you are in Brisbane, you still have a chance to see it when the Spanish Film Festival is presented there next week.
The commentary is in English, with Spanish sub-titles. Don't miss it!

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Thanks for celebrating World Down Syndrome Day with us

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in and organised so enthusiastically our first ever Tea for 3-21 events to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day 2007. The concept seems to have captured imaginations, and to have been an enjoyable way to raise awareness in a way that is comfortable and convenient for a broad range of people, within whatever communities they found themselves at the time. And lots of you generously raised much appreciated funds at the same time - thank you again.

It was lovely o read your comments as they came in via email, and to have so many families of both children and adults tell us how proud they were to celebrate their son or daughter's life. It can be hard for other people (are they those same "others" we once thought things like Down syndrome happened to?) to really "get it" that we truly do have something wonderful to celebrate. When you met someone who "gets it", you just know.

Have a read of Dave Hingsburger's Blog of Monday, April 02, 2007, entitled "Lessons" and you'll see that he "gets it".

"Walk With a Mate" scheduled for 14th October 2007 is a similar "feel good" event - a happy, easy day to get together. So put that in the diary too, and we'll see you there - we'll be the ones with the big smiles, and a spring in our step.

Saturday, 17 February 2007


People with Down syndrome are usually easily recognisable by their facial features, even while they are obviously members of their own families. Every text book and description of Down syndrome provides a long list of physical characteristics, many of which are insignificant, and all of which occur in people without Down syndrome. And few things get up parents' noses like a professional reaching for a child's hand to see how many palmar creases he has when they are being consulted about something entirely other ......

But one very commonly shared facial characteristic is often overlooked, even by those who know many people with Down syndrome very well, including parents. We generally do not feel comfortable with "they" statements, but "they" do have the most beautifully shaped eyebrows - finely drawn arches, beautifully curved, that almost never merit cosmetic interference. Many of us would have paid a great deal of self- indulgent money to achieve and maintain such fine brows!

Yes it's trivial in the scheme of things, but given the other trivial feaures that attract unwarranted attention, a delightful distraction. If you're a parent, the next time someone shows undue interest your child's palm, point out his gorgeous eyebrows instead.

Sunday, 28 January 2007

A well-kept secret .....

This is for all of you who are teachers returning to school this week after the summer holidays, and for families whose children are either returning to school, or starting school for the first time. It's one thing to know that research has been done about how students with Down syndrome learn best, that there are exemplary progams with years of experience producing brilliant results .... but how can you get the resources you need into your classroom (now!) when there are so many competing demands in all schools?

Well, here is the best kept secret in NSW education, and we are happy to share it.

The Jill Sherlock Memorial Learning Assistance Library , located in suburban Sydney, but serving all of NSW " ..... is an initiative of the NSW Department of Education and Training and the Sherlock Family. This state facility provides resources to assist teachers and parents with the education of students with learning difficulties. " Membership is open to teachers, allied professionals and parents across New South Wales. The comprehensive collection of resources relates to literacy, numeracy, language and behaviour support. The library collection includes a wide selection of books, videos, CD's, software, games and kits - practical resources for classroom use, and much, much more. The catalogue is online, and loans can be arranged to be sent out by mail.

This wonderful library is an absolute gem, one of the greatest assests available to teachers of students with special needs across NSW. Yet we have been astounded by how little it is known, even within NSW public schools. The librarians are unfailingly helpful - they know their collection well, and can recommend items that you might not even think of using.

Have a look, order your own loans, and then tell your colleagues about it ......

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

I wish I'd said that .....

Many wonderful, clever, thoughtful, provocative things have been written and said about people with Down syndrome, and we've read a lot of them. Every now and again something comes along that almost everyone seems to "get" immediately, and we think "yeah, that's exactly right - I wish I'd said that!"

In 2005, Dr Dennis McGuire addressed a national meeting of families and professionals in the US, and started a delightful ripple around the world with his reflections on how the world would work "if people with Down syndrome ruled the world". Now in some circles, such a proposition would be unthinkable, but for families like us, and those who really know our sons and daughters, the laughter was about recognition, familiarity and the fellowship of the unexpected experience of a lifetime.

Read If People with Down Syndrome Ruled the World here if you haven't seen it and enjoyed it yet, or if you just need to enjoy it again .....