By Coen Lammers
During the recent upheaval caused by the COVID-19, many events, including World Down Syndrome Day were severely affected.
As people were trying to get their heads around the day-to-day life in a bubble, some new developments also slipped under the radar, including the launch of the wonderful new website of the New Zealand Down Syndrome Association.
Over the past few years, the NZDSA created a vision for a modern website to suit the needs of our community and to display the wealth of resources and information available to the New Zealand Down syndrome community.
We had hoped to give the new website the attention it deserved with a large launch event that would attract the attention of our members and the wider community. Unfortunately, the launch was overshadowed by the COVID-19 lockdown, so we thought it might be helpful to highlight the sections that might be of interest to our community or anyone involved in their lives.
During the planning phase, it became clear that for many people, the website would be the first port of call, to get their first information about Down syndrome, especially for new and expecting parents, as well as their whānau and friends.
The first section of the new site, provides extensive information on Down syndrome, for all the different stages of life and includes specific sections for parents, family, friends and professionals who are looking for more information.
Thousands of health professionals, educators, employers or caregivers support people with Down syndrome in our community every day and the new NZDSA website aims to provide them with background knowledge and explain the positive (or negative) impact they could have on their lives.
The website has an entire section for people with Down syndrome where they can find stories about their peers that might give them new ideas about what they can achieve and get involved in, or give them some new information about finding a job, playing sports, making friends, or setting up a flat.
The section also includes more background on STRIVE, the self-advocacy group of the NZDSA that provides input to our National Committee and for government agencies that work with people with disabilities.
The website showcases a wide variety of inspirational stories of people with Down syndrome from all ages, leading meaningful and exciting lives, as a work-mate and employee, as a friend or a partner, as a flatmate, as a school friend, as a sports star, as a business owner or as an artist.
One of the most important sections of the website focuses on support that the NZDSA provides and where you can find help in your own regions. That section also includes links for local Down syndrome support groups, other agencies and key contacts in your regions that help whānau with questions around health, benefits, education, employment, housing, sports, arts and advocacy.
We hope the website can be a one-stop shop for anything relating to Down syndrome, but we are aware that this is only the starting point.
We want to grow and enhance the website to truly reflect the New Zealand Down syndrome community so we welcome any feedback, suggestions and questions that will enable us to add more layers or make changes to improve existing content.
We hope you will find the new website useful, easy to navigate and interesting, but don’t hesitate to contact us with your suggestions.