Lenox Non-Profit of the Month: Down Syndrome Association of Cincinnati

 

The mission of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati is to empower individuals, educate families, enhance communities and together, celebrate the extraordinary lives of people with Down syndrome.

They EMPOWER individuals with Down syndrome by providing a variety of programs and resources that promote self-determination and self-advocacy as they make choices in life, work and relationships. The DSAGC guides families in navigating and coordinating the resources and services necessary at every step of development as they construct a fulfilling life for their child. This includes emotional support, information, education, programs and connections.

The DSAGC coordinates EMPOWERMENT CLASSES, which are small group programs that provide individuals with Down syndrome and their families opportunities to build important skills, while also connecting with others. A few of their programs include sign language, book clubs, physical therapy, cheerleading, music therapy, fitness, cooking, employment skills, healthy relationships and so much more.

Many families are overwhelmed by the potential challenges and complicated maze of information that is ahead of them. The DSAGC provides quality support and information through educationalprograms, networking opportunities and encouragement. These resources help families anticipate and navigate the next steps in their journey.

As individuals with Down syndrome become more integrated into our community, there is a greater need for public education and acceptance. The DSAGC cultivates relationships and builds awareness among healthcare professionals, teachers, community leaders, neighbors, legislators, employers and others so that anyone who influences the lives of individuals with Down syndrome will welcome them with fairness, enthusiasm and encouragement.

Their HEALTH INITIATIVES collaborate with medical professionals to provide accurate information on Down syndrome and related health issues to ensure families and caregivers receive the support and services they need. In addition to providing the current healthcare guidelines for Down syndrome, a key focus of this program is educating and coaching professionals on how to appropriately deliver a diagnosis of Down syndrome, either prenatally or post-birth. The DSAGC is also placing an increased focus on health issues related to aging and Alzheimer’s disease.

The DSAGC engages in ADVOCACYon behalf of children and adults with Down syndrome, their families and the Down syndrome community at large. This includes educating legislators, advocating for issues that positively affect the Down syndrome community, and involving members of the Down syndrome community in legislation and change. Recent significant victories include the passing of the federal ABLE Act and the Pro-Information Act in Ohio. Current focus areas include the ABLE to Work legislation, which will allow adults with disabilities to work without losing essential benefits; as well as ending discrimination on organ transplant waitlists for individuals with disabilities in Ohio.

Their EMPLOYMENT OUTREACH encourages businesses to hire adults with Down syndrome by being a catalyst for inclusive employment and workplace diversity. In addition to fostering employment skills in adults with Down syndrome, the DSAGC also helps businesses explore the value and benefits of hiring adults with Down syndrome. Some of the adults they serve are entrepreneurs and artists, and others work at law offices, banks, restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses.

Their EDUCATION OUTREACH efforts ensure teachers, staff, peers and families have the knowledge and resources to help students with Down syndrome receive the academic support and community inclusion necessary to succeed. This includes peer presentations, staff trainings, school district ambassadors, and more.

In addition to the many direct services they provide, the DSAGC is also honored to showcase and celebrate the achievements, contributions and individuality of people with Down syndrome.

The DSAGC coordinates numerous FAMILY EVENTS that create opportunities for social connections and networking. These events provide exciting and enjoyable activities for a wide range of interests and life stages at little to no cost. Signature events include the Winter Dance, Summer Picnic, Holiday Party and our largest event, the BUDDY WALK. Numerous smaller events throughout the year provide opportunities for additional connection.

The DSAGC also fosters connections among families through COMMUNITY GROUPS. Many families desire a connection with others who are on a similar journey. The DSAGC coordinates more than 15 groups based on geography, birth year or special interest. These groups offer support, connection and information - all while creating warm, welcoming and empathetic environments in smaller networks. They allow families to share common interests, concerns, challenges and information. Led by volunteers, these groups are a vital extension of the DSAGC and allow us to effectively meet the varied needs throughout our 12-county service area.

The DSAGC also coordinates SOCIAL CLUBS for adults with Down syndrome. These groups help foster friendships, leadership skills, independence and community engagement.

The NATIONAL DOWN SYNDROME ADOPTION NETWORK (NDSAN), a program of the DSAGC, provides information to birth families who may be seeking alternatives to parenting as they prepare for the arrival of their child. Making an adoption plan for a child with Down syndrome is a loving choice and can be the right decision for some families. The program’s mission is to ensure that every child born with Down syndrome has the opportunity to grow up in a loving family. The NDSAN also provides support to parents who wish to adopt a child with Down syndrome. Although the NDSAN operates independently, the DSAGC provides a great deal of logistical, advisory and financial support to the NDSAN.

Want to learn more? Visit www.dsagc.com.

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