It's exciting times for the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation
March 21st, 2022
The Down Syndrome Resource Foundation helps British Columbians with Down syndrome live their best lives.
We talked with DSRF's Glen Hoos about the work they do, concerns over recent policy changes, and the upcoming Run Up for Down Syndrome - the biggest Down syndrome event in BC.
What does the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation do?
Glen: We exist to help people with Down syndrome live their best and most independent life, and to do this we support them at all stages of life.
We have individual programs, like speech therapy, occupational therapy, behavioral support, as well as 1-to-1 reading and math instruction.
We also have group programs oriented to students who have graduated high school. They take group classes to help transition from school to adulthood, dealing with issues like budgeting, reading, employment, and relationships.
DSRF offers a wide range of programs, including taekwondo, improv, employment support, and much more (DSRF Instagram)
Overall we have around 700 program spaces, with about 200-300 families directly using our services at a time.
Things have been in flux due to the pandemic - where's DSRF at now with your programs? Glen: We were able to flex quite quickly and within a month of the pandemic starting had virtual services up and running. That filled a major need because a lot of clients essentially did no school from March to September, which left a big gap to be filled.
Overall it was definitely a success. Many families want to continue virtually and we can also serve families outside our immediate geographic area. So virtual programming and services are now a permanent part of what we do, and we're stronger now than before the pandemic.
Virtual programing with DSRF (DSRF Instagram)
What are the pressing issues for British Columbians with Down syndrome at the moment? Glen: It depends what the individual and family want to work on - we meet people where they're at. But looking at the bigger picture provincially, there's been a lot of concern and unhappiness about changes to the Ministry of Children and Family Development support model.
It's something that could really impact how we're able to support families. We're collaborating with other organizations to help shape the new system and ensure that our students and families don't suffer as a result of the changes that were made.
Which misconceptions about Down syndrome are most common? Glen: Traditionally, far less is expected from people with Down syndrome than they are capable of doing - they're very underestimated.
The reality's that most people with Down syndrome have great potential with the right supports, and that's why we do what we do.
Tell us about the Run Up for Down Syndrome
Glen: It takes place on June 5th at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, and is for all ages and abilities. There are 1.5km and 5km courses to choose from, and participants can run or walk for as long or short as they want, as slow or fast as they want.
People can register by visiting our event page. When they sign up a fundraising page will automatically be created for them that they can use for friends and family to provide support.
Run Up for Down Syndrome participants getting ready to run and walk for a great cause (DSRF Instagram)
This will be the 26th or 27th year now, and it really grew tremendously in the last few years before the pandemic - with over 1000 participants and over $200,000 raised each year.
Because of the pandemic, this will be the first live run in 3 years, and we're really excited for it! There will be lots of cool prizes and things going on. We're also still offering a virtual run for people who are more comfortable with that.
Anything to add?
Glen: Yes! We have big announcements coming in May. I can't tell you what right now, but stay tuned. I also recommend checking out The LowDOWN: A Down Syndrome Podcast - we've got a new season coming up soon. The show welcomes North America's leading Down syndrome experts, parents, and self-advocates to cover topics from across the lifespan.
Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to email@example.com!