Singapore marks World Down Syndrome Day

Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli (right) at an event to mark World Down Syndrome Day. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Dancing is Ms June Lin’s passion, but she has had few opportunities over the past two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 37-year-old, who is with the Diverse Abilities Dance Collective, said the group previously performed up to eight times a year at events like the President’s Challenge. 

The troupe includes several people with Down syndrome, like Ms Lin.

On Saturday (March 19), she spoke at an event to mark World Down Syndrome Day about what inclusion means to her.

"No matter who we are, we can take part in things, make friends, have a job, go to school, join in with groups and make decisions together.

"More importantly, all the people around me accept me for who I am and do not treat me any differently from others," said Ms Lin, who is an ambassador for the Down Syndrome Association of Singapore.

The event is held on March 21 every year, to signify the three copies of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.

It was commemorated in Singapore on Saturday, and held in a hybrid format for the second time.

Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli, who was the guest of honour at the event live-streamed on Facebook, said in his opening speech that Singapore strives to build an inclusive and caring society.

"This also means that we want to enable all persons with disabilities to enjoy and participate meaningfully in all areas of life. To learn, play and contribute alongside their family, friends and all of us," said Mr Masagos, who added that everyone has a part to play in creating an inclusive society.

Ms Grace Gan, an Institute of Technical Education student, co-hosted the event.

"At first I was a little bit nervous because it was my first time hosting a live show and also speaking in front of strangers," said the 17-year-old, who is also a Down Syndrome Association ambassador.

But she added that it was a good opportunity for her to hone her presentation and communication skills.

The event also spotlighted the Rock Your Socks campaign, which is into its third iteration.

The campaign raises awareness of Down syndrome by getting participants to wear colourful or mismatched socks, which resemble the shape of chromosomes.

Down Syndrome Association is selling the socks at $20 per pair.

Proceeds will go towards supporting three programmes at the association, including the Independent Living and Training Centre.

Ms Grace Gan (left) and Ms June Lin holding socks designed by Ms Lin. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

The centre provides training opportunities for young adults with Down syndrome to practise and apply life skills so that they can live independently.

Ms Lin, who contributed one of the designs for the socks campaign, said she was inspired by her love of fishes and sea life.

On the vibrant colours of her artwork, she said: "I chose the colours because they are very calming."

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