COLOURFUL MARKER:Parents and children bring out the balloons and the costumes
THE Kiwanis Down's Syndrome Foundation of Klang marked World Down's Syndrome Day with a children's fashion show, a game of musical chairs and a "mummy" contest.
The children showed off their fancy outfits while parents took part in the game of musical chairs. Everybody took part in the "mummy" contest which featured the kids being wrapped in toilet paper.
The programme was organised by the centre's Parents Support Group (PSG).
Klang centre community director Shirley Sobey was pleased with the turnout.
"This is the first time everybody has come together to participate. This young group of parents have done a wonderful job putting everything together, from getting the canopies to the clown," she said.
PSG chairman Khairudin Mohd Tahir said he hoped that the group would be able to continue its past activities such as outings and festive gatherings.
"With limited funding, we can't afford too many events in a year," he said.
Set up almost 20 years ago, the foundation is the only Kiwanis centre in the country which does not charge a fixed fee for its lessons.
"We understand that not all parents are well-off so we let them pay what they can while their children receive the same lessons as the other kids, according to the Robert Deller curriculum," said Klang centre administrator Ardinsoon Mohd Yusof.
The centre prepares its students, who are between 4 months and 6 years old, for government and private special schools by helping them to develop motor and other skills.
There are 48 students, and 10 on the waiting list. Its four teachers were trained at Wisma Harapan, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, for three years.
Ardinsoon said the teachers also acted as consultants to parents who found it hard to accept the fact that their children had Down's Syndrome.
PSG members also help by introducing their children to new parents, to let them know that there is hope.
Ardinsoon advised those with Down's Syndrome children to enrol them at centres like the foundation's in Klang as soon as possible.
"It will be difficult for both parent and child if they wait because it will be too late and difficult to develop the child's skills," she said.
SK Jalan Kebun teacher Zalinda Rahmat, 40, said she has to be patient with Siti Nur Khadijah Azmirudin, 4, as the child was fussy, active and has a hearing disability.
"Our doctor suggested that Khadijah be enrolled at our centre and, since she came here, I found out that she actually has a high IQ level," she said.
Khadijah enjoys her time at the centre. At home, she knows when it is time to do her homework, when she pretends to be the teacher.
Nasrullah Mohd Yusof, 6, who joined the centre four years ago has developed his speech skills immensely.
Nasrullah's family is also learning from Kiwanis how to train him as he is a slow-learner, has a high-temper and has various health problems.
"Although we are all busy with studies and work, we make sure we spend as much time as we can with Nasrullah as he needs a lot of attention," said Nasrullah's brother Muhd Izzuddin, 20.
As a housewife, mother Siti Khadijah Abdullah, 44, is able to attend to Nasrullah full-time.
Also present was Selangor executive councillor in charge of health, estate workers and poverty Dr Xavier Jayakumar.
Xavier contributed RM10,000 towards the centre's monthly expenditure of between RM10,000 and RM11,000.
According to www.worlddownsyndromeday.org, this year marked the seventh anniversary of World Down's Syndrome Day, and the United Nations' first official observance of the year.
World Down's Syndrome Day is on March 21 as the date represents the three copies of chromosome 21, which is unique to those with Down's Syndrome.