SHARON Devadoss was in tears when doctors diagnosed her son with Down Syndrome, and credits the Kiwanis Down Syndrome Foundation National Centre (KDSF-NC) as the lifeline that helped her family.
The homemaker said two-year-old Jeremiah John, fondly called JJ, was only able to “flop around” when he was first brought to the centre for therapy.
“There has been tremendous change since JJ started therapy more than a year ago. He learns by observing other people, so placing him in a class with his peers motivates him.
“He is now a very active child who cannot sit still. JJ loves music and dancing and likes to climb the sofa and staircase, so this keeps our family on our toes,” said Devadoss, who has two older girls.
The 37-year-old said KDSF-NC’s parent support group had also offered support, and is hopeful JJ will be sufficiently independent when she and her husband are no longer around.
The KDSF-NC is the main beneficiary of the 33rd Kiwanis Treasure Hunt 2016, an annual fundraising event organised by the Kiwanis Club of Kuala Lumpur (KCKL).
This year’s hunt, themed The Never-ending Story, will be held from May 28 to 30. It will start in Kuala Lumpur and end at Damai Laut in Lumut, Perak.
Besides subsidising the cost of running the centre, funds raised from the event will also be channelled to other community service projects undertaken by KCKL.
KDSF-NC administrative director Angie Heng said KDSF-NC conducts an early intervention programme (EIP) for children with Down Syndrome aged two months to six years.
“The EIP is used to teach and stimulate the children in the areas of gross motor, fine motor, perceptual, early language, pre-academic, art and craft, self-help and social skills.
“Each child is given a tailored Individual Education Plan upon enrolment and assessment at the centre, as Down Syndrome individuals are different in terms of challenges they each face,” she said.
The classes are divided into different age groups.
For infants aged two months to two years, the infant stimulation programme is used to strengthen their physical weaknesses through physiotherapy and occupational therapy. This enables them to achieve goals such as crawling and exploring objects.
For toddlers aged two to four, the toddler programme gives emphasis on skills development such as early language, storytelling, music and art appreciation.
For children aged four to six, the special programme continues to strengthen the skills they have acquired while preparing them for admission into primary school through self-help and social skills.
Muhammad Nursyazwan Danish Zairen is one of the children who will graduate from KDSF-NC by the end of this year.
His mother Rina Mohd Noor is proud of the six-year-old’s achievements throughout his three years at KDSF-NC.
“Danish is a very strong boy – internally and externally. He is a bit of a daredevil as he likes to climb up high cabinets on his own, but he also enjoys doing table tasks like puzzles and blocks.
“There was a noticeable difference when we switched Danish to KDSF-NC from an NGO school that cared for children with all sorts of disabilities.
“He has chalked up tremendous development, thanks to the centre’s programmes that are tailored for each child,” said the 41-year-old home-based baker.
Although she is nervous about Danish’s lack of social skills and which school to send him to next year, Rina is positive things will work out for her little boy.
KDSF-NC, now in its 27th year of operations, has an enrolment of some 140 children, with an annual operational cost of more than RM1mil.
“The funds are used for subsidising the centre’s programmes, building upkeep, remuneration of close to 30 employees including four therapists, teaching materials and educational toys, as well as teachers’ training.
“KDSF-NC has trained more than 1,000 pupils since it started, and some 80% to 90% have gone on to enrol in mainstream schools with special classes,” said Heng.
Heng added that the centre also runs awareness campaigns and events to showcase the Down Syndrome children’s abilities and provide equal opportunities for them.
Star Media Group Bhd is a media partner for the 33rd Kiwanis Treasure Hunt 2016.
For details or to download the entry form, visit www.kckl.org.my or call 03-7958 3655 (Tang Kwai Ying).