As part of creating public awareness for Down Syndrome, First Bank Employee Volunteering Scheme (EVS), has donated some food items, toiletries and groceries among others to the Down Syndrome Foundation of Nigeria.
Speaking at the event in Lagos, Head Sponsorships and Events, First Bank, Mrs. Bridget Oyefeso – Odusami said, EVS is the banks form of giving back to the society, which is part of their corporate social responsibilities (CSR).
She told The Guardian: “The Down Syndrome Foundation was chosen because, it is their week and we want to use the platform to create more awareness on the cognitive condition as well as plead with the public to give them a chance to contribute their quota. More so we have been partnering with the foundation since 2009.”
Odusami further stated: “The scheme is an avenue where employees who indicate to volunteer to serve the community come out to advocate for a good course, as she urged other corporate organizations to give back to the society by supporting in diverse ways.”
The Head Administrator of the foundation, Madam Hellen Bassi, while commending First Bank, said, “the bank’s support over the years have created more awareness for the condition and has brought the public’s attention to our needs.”
Bassi told our correspondent that apart from lack of funds that hinders recruiting qualified staff like speech therapists and physiotherapist among others for the children, the issue of facility was another major challenge. She expressed regrets saying, “there is no government support what so ever at the moment, but we thank the immediate past Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola for giving us a land at Epe during his tenure.”
The Foundation’s Head Administrator, pleaded with parents who have children with Down Syndrome not to hide them, but bring them out to places like the Foundation’s vocational school where they can secure a future for them and also live with other colleagues. She however appealed to the society to accept them by giving them the chance to exhibit their talents. This will create employment opportunities for them and they would not be dependent for life.
Relative to what Bassi said, Mr. Muyiwa Majekodunmi, a parent of one of the children with the condition said though there is a growing acceptance of people with down syndrome, the stigmatization still poses a threat to the well being of people with the condition.
He said, they are not going to be dependent on their parents forever, therefor people should help integrate them into the society to give them a living.
Majekodunmi lamented the need for more awareness creation on the condition and also urged parents not to be ashamed to have them as children. Because “the more you hide them out of shame, the more they get introverted and can not cope with the challenges of the outside world.”
According to the Down Syndrome International, “Down Syndrome is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that has always been a part of the human condition, being universally present across racial, gender or socioeconomic lines.
Down syndrome is usually caused by an error in cell division called “nondisjunction.” Nondisjunction results in an embryo with three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two, prior to or at conception and the cause of the extra full or partial chromosome is still unknown.
Down syndrome usually causes varying degrees of intellectual and physical disability and associated medical issues.