One in every 800 babies born has Down syndrome or around 1,875 cases a year in the Philippines in a population of 1.5-million live births.
This was revealed by the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines Inc. (DSAPI) saying that more than 100,000 families in the country are living with a person with Down syndrome.
February has been designated as Down Syndrome Consciousness Month and to celebrate the occasion, the DSAPI in partnership with SM Cares, the corporate social responsibility arm of SM Supermalls, is holding Happy Walk at the SM North Edsa Skydome on February 23 (Sunday) at 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The event, dubbed as “Living it Up with Down, Party all Day,” will showcase the many talents and interests of people with Down syndrome followed by a walk around the SM North EDSA grounds to increase awareness on the condition. Registration starts at 8 a.m.
According to the World Health Organization, Down syndrome is a type of mental retardation caused by extra genetic material in chromosome 21. This can be due to a process called non-disjunction in which genetic materials fail to separate during a crucial part of the formation resulting in extra chromosome called trisomy 21. This leads to Down syndrome, which results in developmental delays and physical features typical of the disorder
The cause of the non-disjunction is still unknown although it has been linked to a woman’s age as studies have shown that the chances of having a child with Down syndrome increases as a woman gets older especially after the age of 35. Down syndrome is not related to race, nationality, religion or socioeconomic status.
The Happy Walk is just one of the programs carried out by SM Cares in recognition of the rights of persons with disabilities (PWDs).
SM Supermalls have been cited as the most PWD-friendly mall in the country. Not only do all SM Supermalls provide sufficient accessibility for PWDs through dedicated areas for parking and disembarking for PWDs, special restrooms, ramps, Braille signages, designated areas for PWDs in theaters and dining rooms, as well as utilities within accessible height like pay phones and wash room sinks, among others, the mall also offers business and employment opportunities to these people.
All these according to Engr. Bien Mateo, vice president for operations and program director for SM Cares Disability Affairs, “have transformed our business environment into a community of opportunities open to PWDs, to enjoy bonding moments with their families, to be independent and free, to show their abilities above their disabilities, and an environment friendly to entrepreneurial and employment opportunities.”
DSAPI has been pushing for the rights of people with Down syndrome for the past 22 years. Its founding officers, Gerry and Baebie Walmsley and Tony and Dottie Pasia, founded DSAPI shortly the birth of their children, Christopher and Vicky Lou, respectively, who were born with Down syndrome.