March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day.
With the help of supportive families and communities, individuals with Down syndrome lead happy and fulfilling lives. Villa Maria Catholic Homes is proud to support many people with Down syndrome and their families.
Six-year-old Christiaan has Down syndrome and he is a prep at VMCH specialist school, St Paul’s College. He joined its Bridging Program this year. The program provides preps with additional needs support to gradually transition into mainstream school. He is pictured (second from the left) playing with his classmates.
Bridging Program students attend St Paul’s College, in Kew, three days a week and the mainstream school chosen by their family for the other two days.
Christiaan’s dad, Johan, said he is having a great prep year.
“He’s always got a smile, a very positive attitude, in terms of anything in life. He’s quite an inspiration for our family.”
Johan and his wife’s dream for Christiaan is to attend a mainstream school, just like his big brothers. They felt that the Bridging Program would give him the support to gain the skills to do this.
“The teachers are great. They give students the support they need to be independent,” Johan said.
“They expect them to do things for themselves. Hang their bags up, put their drink bottles and hats away. Chrissie enjoys that, he feels important (when he) shows he can do it. That type of achievement is important.”
Bridging Program teacher, Gillian Bryan, says students benefit from a smaller class size, a play-based teaching approach and the program covers the Victorian Curriculum with modifications where necessary.
“It’s very much the same structure of a prep grade. We make reasonable adjustments to the individual children’s requirements,” she said.
Gillian and her team will also regularly visit Christiaan’s mainstream school to support his transition. This can include everything from providing practical resources, sharing their expertise with teachers at the mainstream school and offering tips to adjust the curriculum where needed.
By the end of the school year, the Bridging Program teachers help the parents consider their options for the following year.
Gillian said she loved seeing the changes in students as the year progressed.
“These children just surprise me every day,” she said.
“Give them a challenge, encourage them and teach them to be confident and they will rise to the occasion and they will hit those goals and often exceed them.”
World Down Syndrome Day
Every year on March 21, people all around the world celebrate the lives and achievements of people with Down syndrome.
One in every 1,100 babies are born with Down syndrome in Australia each year. It is the world’s most common chromosomal disorder and cause of intellectual disability.
Supportive families and communities play a big role in helping people with Down syndrome lead happy and fulfilling lives.
VMCH is proud to provide support and services to help people with Down syndrome achieve their goals. For more information please call 1800 798 921.