It’s that time of the year when many of us spend time with those we love, giving and sharing joy and laughter. It’s also a good time to reflect on the past year. 2019 has been a big year for DSi, with more projects and activities in progress, started or in the planning than ever before, supporting people with Down syndrome, families and other stakeholders, working closely with our national and regional member organisations.

Some of the highlights of 2019 include:

  • Self-advocacy facilitation training with our national member organisations in Nigeria, Bangladesh, Kosovo and United Arab Emirates;
  • Working with Chain of Hope and the Uganda Down Syndrome Association to arrange critical heart operations for Jane and Keith, two young children with Down syndrome;
  • Supporting the continued start-up of Rwanda Down Syndrome Organisation, who are taking forward their first activities;
  • Working with our national member in Guatemala to provide training and emotional support to parents of babies and young children with Down syndrome;
  • Our annual WDSD international advocacy campaign in March 2019, based on the theme “Leave no one behind”, delivered through many activities such as our WDSD Conference at UN, New York and our side-event at UN Geneva;
  • Working with a self-advocate from Uganda through the IDA Fellowship programme, who has been preparing advocacy resources and participating in training and advocacy work;
  • Supporting 3 self-advocates with Down syndrome to participate in the Uganda, Tanzania and Middle East/North Africa “Bridge” training cycles;
  • Taking part in a development group producing a new UK guideline on thyroid disorder in children with Down syndrome, scheduled for publication in early 2020 and
  • Presenting a draft of new international guidelines for the education of people with Down syndrome to UNICEF at our WDSD New York event in March, a document which is scheduled for publication in early 2020 following a stakeholder consultation process.

DSi is a membership led organisation and we are continuously working to strengthen our network through all of our activities. We are developing more effective ways to communicate with our members, be accountable to you and engage you in our activities and this will continue into 2020, as our output increases and as we undertake a strategic review of DSi.

As the year, draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of everyone at DSi to wish you all peace, happiness and a prosperous new year. We look forward to working closely with you again in 2020 and hope to see many of you at our events next year, including the WDSD UN New York and Geneva and of course at the World Down Syndrome Congress in Dubai in November 2020.

Vanessa dos Santos
Down Syndrome International