2017 World Down Syndrome Day

Hundreds walk to raise awareness of Down syndrome

About 620 people set off from Dhoby Ghaut Green for the 2017 World Down Syndrome Day buddy walk on Saturday (March 18).ST VIDEO: JOSE HONG

SINGAPORE - On a bright morning just after 8am, about 620 people set off from Dhoby Ghaut Green for the 2017 World Down Syndrome Day buddy walk.

Flagged off by Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong, the group – with 150, including people with Down syndrome and their family members – began the 2.2km walk that marked the beginning of the day's festivities.

The day, which includes a carnival, is organised by the Down Syndrome Association (Singapore)  or DSA(S).

Walking in the morning glow was Mr Henry Tan, 55 and his wife Susan, 53, leading their 14-year-old daughter Gabrielle, who has Down syndrome. Mr Tan said he has been participating in DSA(S) events with his family for years.

He and his wife have spent more than $150,000 on Gabrielle due to surgery, checkups, and speech therapy. He hopes that events such as this will help to raise more awareness of Down syndrome and to tackle misconceptions the public may have of those who have the condition. 

When asked how she is feeling about attending today's walk, Gabrielle looked shyly at this reporter, smiled slightly mischievously and turned back to her mother. 

Mr Tan smiled. "We have taught her to never talk to strangers, especially not to men because she's a girl," he said. "But, she's happy."

Today's festivities at Dhoby Ghaut Green are expected to draw between 2,000-3,000 people and ends at 3pm.