A group of toddlers with Down syndrome and their parents feature in a fun and festive video wishing everyone a happy Christmas and to raise vital funds for the charity.
It shows 34 families from across Ireland using singing, signing, gesturing, and Lámh — a modified form of sign language which aids communication — to follow ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’.
The heartfelt video – titled “21FestiveHugs” – is accompanied by the hashtag #ShareTheJourney. The charity chose the song title 21 Festive Hugs as Down syndrome occurs when there is one extra copy of chromosome 21 in cells in the body.
The video is the result of a culmination of a year of DSI’s virtual baby and toddler groups which the charity began running since the beginning of the pandemic to help young children with their speech and language development and communication.
Early Years Specialist with Down Syndrome Ireland Olive Buckeridge said “All of the children and their parents worked so hard and showed up for our weekly tele-practice sessions since the beginning of the pandemic – we’ve had such fun and we thought why not celebrate the little one’s wonderful achievements over the year!”
Mum Claire Colum and her daughter Kate from Roscommon said the DSI groups have been a huge support.
She said: “Myself and Kate really enjoyed Olive’s online groups, they were so much fun, there was always something new and exciting each week and we learned so many Lámh signs along the way.
“We still love to watch the YouTube re-runs of the groups just as much. Thank you Olive and DSI for everything in 2020, Happy Christmas.”
The charity – which receives 85 per cent of its income through fundraising – outlined that income is down about 40% cent this year and is urging people to support the charity if they are in a position to do so this Christmas.
Interim CEO of Down Syndrome Ireland Deirdre Saul said: “We have been trying to plug the gaping hole in State services by providing tele-practice sessions and other supports to our members but as a charity we are struggling under the huge demand so any and all support would be greatly appreciated.
“We are wishing you and your family a happy Christmas from our family to yours.”