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World Down Syndrome Day opportunity to celebrate diversity

World Down Syndrome Day an opportunity to celebrate diversity

Human Rights Disability Commissioner, Paul Gibson, challenged all New Zealanders to celebrate and embrace diversity on World Down Syndrome Day.

Speaking at the 2014 Down Syndrome Day T4T and the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association (NZDSA) National Achievements Awards Ceremony at Parliament last night, Paul Gibson says this year’s theme about health, wellbeing and achievement highlights issues and acknowledges barriers people with Down Syndrome face daily just trying to access healthcare on an equal basis as everyone else.

“It is time for an effective healthcare programme to be implemented immediately,” he says.

“People with Down Syndrome often face challenges with respect to healthcare including being denied access to healthcare, incorrect diagnosis and refusing to allow patients to participate in decisions about their treatment plans.”

Despite the many barriers, people with Down Syndrome can and do live successful and happy lives.

This World Down Syndrome Day, three achievers have been acknowledged for their outstanding accomplishments. Last night they were recognised at the awards ceremony. Chris Whitmore, from New Plymouth was recognised for his work as a volunteer rest-home worker and successful entrepreneur. He’s developed and markets the dog food brand Chris’ Crunchy Crackers. Katrina Sneath, of Onslow College in Wellington, an accomplished public speaker, is near completion of NCEA Level 2 and her study includes challenging subjects such as calculus. Special Olympian Christopher Tavita, of Dunedin, has won medals at the Special Olympics including a much coveted gold. He has also achieved a blue belt in mainstream karate and importantly, was a strong support for his recently deceased father.

“Another example of success featured recently in the media, was the one where a young Down Syndrome couple, Jill Jefferies and James Dobinson, amidst the challenges facing people in rebuilding their lives in Christchurch, were the first to marry in Christchurch’s cardboard cathedral. This is something to celebrate not just for people with Down Syndrome but for everyone who welcomes diversity.”

“Diversity must be celebrated. All of us are different but we all belong. Every day, not just on Race Relations Day or Down Syndrome Day we should explore and embrace the message, I am Aotearoa New Zealand.”

World Down Syndrome Day – 21 March 2014
Race Relations Day - 21 March 2014


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