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

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Packed to the Rafters

A preview from the Spring 2009 issue of the DS NSW Newsletter (to be published on 1st September, 2009) ~ 5 year old Sarah's mother Mary, has written an account of their starring efforts on Packed to the Rafters (Channel 7):

Back in March our coffee morning group of parents and children were invited to be extras in an episode of channel 7's "Packed to the Rafter's". The producer contacted DS NSW briefly discussing the script and seeking a bunch of children with Down syndrome to be in a playground scene.
The main characters, Julie and Dave Rafter are discussing a high risk assessment of their on screen baby being born with Down syndrome. Lucky for us our group was selected as the outdoor scenes are filmed at Carss Park in the St George Shire. It was exciting to be apart of a TV series in the making, the way it is literally pieced together, and to witness its considered and slow process. The children were consummate performers for the first hour before the cameras were rolling! However by the end of the second hour they were tiring and quite grubby!

The director Cherie Nowlan and crew were appreciative of our time & thanked us for our involvement. Actors Rebecca Gibney and Erik Thomson met with the parents and children and joined in conversation. They seemed unpretentious and down to earth, not too unlike the characters they play on the show. Apart from their professional accolades it was evident by their manner that they each have young children, Rebecca a 5yr old and Erik a 2yr old. They were genuinely interested in our families and naturally we were happy to showcase our children, whom they described as being gorgeous and patient, (mmm not always! We thought).
We were pleased to have the opportunity to discuss social stereotyping, and the misconceptions the community can have of our children through outdated information. We were somewhat nervous about the scene going to air, not because of our lack of acting skills and lack of stage makeup! But we hoped a positive view would be presented. Overall Rebecca's line: "I'm sick to death of this good result, bad result thing. We are talking about a child. Stop judging the kid before it's even born" put our minds at ease and we were happy with our 1 minute and 17 seconds of fame!

The next morning on Channel 7's Sunrise the topic of choosing to have a baby with Down syndrome was commented on,

"'s a personal choice, whether to terminate" one compere said.

I felt they did not echo the balanced and positive view presented in the episode, so I sent an email, I was not alone. To quote Siobhan parent of Joel, "the personal choice, needs to be an informed choice." What surprised and pleased us is the number of people who saw the show and the dialogue it has encouraged.

Sarah now wears her sunglasses when we go to the shops!
Packed to the Rafters Episode 27 aired on 28 July. Viewer's comments following the Sunrise segment are here.

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