Dubai: Children with Down syndrome were treated to a day of fun at Creek Park in Dubai on Friday, with games, activities, prizes, and free entry to Dubai Dolphinarium.
Scores of families, both those with and without children with Down syndrome, also led a ‘Fun Walk’ from the one end of the park to the other, starting at Gate 5.
Children with Down syndrome were also treated to games, activities, and free entry to Dubai Dolphinarium.
The event, organised by Asateer Events in partnership with Dubai Municipality, was held to mark International Down Syndrome Day, which is held on March 21 each year. However, to enlist wider participation from the community, the event in Dubai was held on Friday, a weekend for most residents.
The sponsor for the event, which lasted from 2.30pm till after 6pm, was Noor Bank.
An estimated 300 to 400 people turned up, most of them wearing white T-shirts and caps designed for the event. After games, activities and prizes, they went on a leisurely walk to Children’s City at the other end of the public park.
Children and young people with special needs participated in organising the event and managing activities.
“The main idea was for children and persons with special needs to mix and have fun with the wider community. We have tried to involve everyone,” Mohammad Younus, managing director of Asateer Events, told Gulf News shortly before the walk.
Down syndrome is a condition where a child is born with an extra copy of a particular chromosome, leading to delays and difficulties in physical and mental development. On Friday, families and children with Down syndrome from various nationalities socialised and had fun.
Dubai aims to be an inclusive community by 2020.
In 2013, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, launched the ‘My Community … A City For Everyone’ initiative to lead efforts towards the aim.
In the UAE, there are a number of establishments and groups dedicated to supporting persons with Down syndrome and their families, such as Emirates Down Syndrome Association and All 4 Down Syndrome Dubai.
A new centre is also set to open in Dubai, it was announced during Friday’s event.
Also, last year, the Dubai government launched the Dubai Inclusive Education Framework so children with special educational needs could study alongside peers in regular schools, receiving all necessary support.
Huda Al Sharaawy, whose 10-year-old son Abdul Rahman has Down syndrome, told Gulf News she has received advice from support groups in Dubai and is a member of a support group. The family, from Egypt, has been living in Dubai for three years.
“I have received advice, such as help in finding sporting activities for my son. I think the announcement of the framework and the launch of a new centre, which we just heard about today, is a good thing,” Al Sharaawy said.
Her son attends Modern Alternative Education, a non-profit special education centre in Dubai “structured as a school for children with mild to moderate learning difficulties or delays”.
Mainstream schools did not enrol Abdul Rahman, Al Sharaawy said, adding she hopes “all the good things we’re hearing” about greater inclusivity will soon become a reality.