03 Apr World Down Syndrome Day – Think Possibilities!
The annual celebration of the World Down Syndrome Day-in collaboration with the Kosala Dullewa Foundation and Rotaract District 3220- was held at the Nawarangahala premises of Royal Collage on Sunday, 27th of March 2016. Jointly hosted by the Rotaract Clubs of University of Colombo (Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Science and Faculty of Management & Finance), University of Kelaniya, University of Moratuwa, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, University of Peradeniya, Rotaract club of Sir John Kotelawala Defence University and the Interact Club of Royal College. The event signified the fourth successful occurrence of a massive cooperative effort, with an overwhelming volunteer participation.
The program for the day involved various activities designed to promote awareness on the subject of Down syndrome and its related issues, focused on creating an understanding and changing social perception on what this demographic can achieve- given the right resources at the right time. The significance of a proactive attitude towards identifying the physical and mental prowess of those with Down syndrome was continuously stressed upon through all activities.
The World Down Syndrome day event, which was planned around afore mentioned basic objectives, compromised of a health camp, art competition, entertainment and a variety show, targeted towards elevating participant wellbeing, dignity and sense of belonging as a whole. The celebratory affair was well underway by 9 in the morning, lasting through the day and into the evening.
The Health Camp
Upon registration for the day- the height, weight and Body Mass Index measurements of each participant were calculated and then guided towards the respective general or pediatrics clinics- in accordance with their age. The observed growth or the lack thereof and the extent of relevant symptoms were assessed in order to better understand both physical and mental capacities of those attending the health camp.
Existing and potential problematic areas of each patient were examined and subsequently directed towards the relevant clinics as per requirement. Specialist services with regards to dental, eye, ENT, Neurology, Cardiology, Orthopedic, Physiotherapy, Dermatology, Nutrition, Psychiatry (Child Guidance Counseling) and Sumithrayo counseling were offered through a set of volunteer doctors and consultants, whose sheer commitment and dedication towards making a difference was admirable in its truest form. Surpassing their oaths and obligations, the medical professionals whole heartedly strived to offer their maximum efforts, even to the extent of addressing personal and financial problems of parents and other caregivers in certain instances.
A special thank you goes out to all doctors and consultants, who volunteered and cooperated with our members to provide the best service imaginable, despite being obstructed by climatic conditions and other minor setbacks.
The Art Competition
Themed “Colours of My World” children with special needs were encouraged to submit their art work for the competition throughout a limited time period beforehand. With a staggering number of 807 entries flooding in, all submissions were classified under their respective mental or physical needs criterion together with the age categories of below 10, 10-15, 15-20, 20-25 and 25 and above.
The five best submissions of each age and need portfolio were selected by veteran artist Mrs. Sybil Wettasinghe and awarded prizes of appreciation during the variety show. Each and every contestant received a certificate of participation, with all their art exhibited within the Nawarangahala premises on the day of the event. The simple use of colour as a medium of expression and the extent of creativity shown despite the obstacles faced by these individuals was truly an incredible experience to behold.
Organized by Rotaract volunteers, the entertainment tent was one of the biggest attractions throughout the day. Children and adults alike gathered around to witness the multitude of activities taking place within the tent which ranged from face painting to hoop games and colouring. Smiles all around, the excited children showed off paintings of flowers on their faces and trains on their arms while pitching in enthusiastically to colour the mural of appreciation which was later gifted to the Kosala Dullewa Foundation.
Undeniably the most awaited event of the day, the variety show offered a platform for the children representing KDF and associated institutions, such as, the Gunasekara Special School, Meth Nana, Sarvodaya Suva Setha, Theldeniya Special Center, Men Handy School, MENCAFEP, Blue Rose, Susitha Suva Setha and several other establishments, to showcase their aesthetic talents. A kaleidoscope of culture, colour and talent; the two hour program was put together so as to strike a most entertaining balance of songs, music and dance. All participants, both on and off stage, were seen enjoying all performances, dancing away to the beat.
The highlights of the evening included the bubbly presence of well-known actress and volunteer, Pooja Umashankar and the show stopping performance of Kosala Dullewa- the namesake of KDF himself, much to the inspiration of everyone present.
Thus concluded yet another successful Rotaract District project; “World Down Syndrome Day – Sri Lanka 2016”, leaving a tired yet infinitely happy crowd of participants, caregivers and volunteers, proving that nothing is impossible if tackled through perseverance and team work. The collective efforts of those who wanted to make a change resulted in a memorable day in the lives of those who needed the change the most.
Our sincere gratitude goes out to Mr. Athula Munasinghe – Coordinator of Kosala Dullewa Foundation, our own Rotaract District Coordinators- Rtr. Asela Wijeratne and Rtr. Roshana Ali, the respective chairpersons of all other hosting clubs and the entire force of volunteers who worked tirelessly to carry forward this mammoth project.
|Rtr. Harindi Jayasuriya