Pinoys with Down syndrome born every 4 hours

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - February 23, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A Filipino with Down syndrome is born in the country every four hours.

This was bared by Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines president Elmer Lapeña yesterday during the Happy Walk 2015, a yearly event to highlight the National Down Syndrome Consciousness Month celebration at the SM North Edsa Skydome.

Lapeña said contrary to popular belief, Down syndrome is a common genetic disorder that affects one in every 800 Filipino children. He said this is why their inclusion in society is vital.

“All children are special, they are our blessings and that includes children with Down syndrome. Children with this condition have mild to moderate cognitive disability but with love, support and close monitoring and intervention, they can live normal lives as everyone else,” he told The STAR in an interview.

Down syndrome (DS), also called Trisomy 21, is a condition in which an extra genetic material called chromosome 21 causes delays in the way a child develops, both mentally and physically. There is no known cause or cure but Lapeña said 80 percent of babies with the condition are born to mothers aged 35 and below but the risk of having a baby with Down syndrome increases as women get older.

This year’s Happy Walk, with the theme “All for DOWN,” broke previous attendance records for the event as people who came breached the 1,000 mark. Lapeña said for the first time, 1,500 people attended the event which is more than the 1,200 seating capacity of the Skydome.

“Next year, we will need a bigger space and SM president Hans Sy has promised that we will transfer to a bigger space at the SMX at the Mall of Asia in Pasay next year. We could not be happier because SM, through its corporate social responsibility division SM Cares, has been playing host to us for the past six years and we are indeed honored and delighted that they continue to support us by giving us an even bigger venue next year,” Lapeña said.

Aside from the event at the North Edsa, the Happy Walk was simultaneously held in Cebu and Davao.

During the Happy Walk, children with Down syndrome showcased their talents in a program held in conjunction with the event. A photo contest was also held to demonstrate that children with Down syndrome are creative and talented, just like normal children.

Advancing the causes of People with Disability (PWD) is one of the advocacies of SM Cares. It started when a boy with disability got lost in the crowded SM mall. While the boy was later found in the mall’s vicinity, it served as a lesson that more initiatives need to be done to prevent the same thing from happening again.

Through the years, SM Cares has instituted key programs to address the needs of PWDs, which earned for the mall the reputation of being the most PWD-friendly in the country. All malls have dedicated areas for parking and disembarking for PWDs, special restrooms, ramps, Braille signage, designated areas for PWDs in theaters and dining rooms as well as utilities within accessible height like pay phones and wash room sinks. Mall security guards and personnel are also trained to respond to the unique needs of PWDs.

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