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Down Syndrome Dublin working with the community

The Carmelite community centre on Aungier Street is a popular centre for many groups and activities and Down Syndrome Dublin is one group that holds various classes in the centre.

Down syndrome Dublin provides classes for people with Down syndrome of all ages. Sylvaine Ní Cheallachain is the branch secretary of Down syndrome Dublin and she explains how their unique parent and toddler group came about. Sylvaine explained as a parent of a Down syndrome child it can be difficult to meet people outside of your service provider and this group
enables parents in similar situations to meet and socialise. “A group of parents started meeting in each-others houses once a month or so and from there it grew”, explains Sylvaine.

Down syndrome Dublin holds various other classes in the Carmelite including an art and drama class on a Saturday which caters for children between the ages of 11 and 15. “The kids split into two groups and they do an hour of art and then an hour of drama”. This class is on form 12-2 on Saturdays and the kids bring a packed lunch.

A parent and toddler group also takes place on a Saturdays and at the moment the group is a
Gymboree class. The classes will run in blocks for 6 to 7 weeks and alternate between a Gymboree class and a Clap-Handies class. The Gymboree class involves storytelling and  sensor play. A very important member of the class is the Gymboree mascot, a puppet by the name of Gymbo. “The class involves lots of bubble blowing and lots of music, it’s great fun and full of energy”, explains Sylvaine.

In the Clap-Handies class the children engage in many activities throughout the hour, from songs to stories the class is action packed. An important part of the class is parent and child interaction and Lisa Crotty, the group leader explains how the “parent is the best toy”. The children are encouraged to interact with their parent during the various activities. Lisa also encourages parents to continue play and activities outside of the class and believes parent and child play is important for all children.

Susan Butler is a parent who attended the Clap-Handies class with her two year old son Harry. She said that the class is as much for her as it is for Harry. “It’s great to talk to the other parents and compare notes”, laughs Susan. The class offers parents a forum to talk to other parents who have children the same age and who are at the same stage in development. Susan also says that when Harry is too old for this class she will go to the classes for older children. “Harry loves the singing and stories in the class and we will definitely continue to come to classes in the Carmelite”.

The Gymboree class is for children between the ages of 0-6 years. The new class will be held on Saturday 2 March, Saturday 6 April and Saturday 11 May at 11am in the Carmelite centre, Aungier Street, Dublin 2. For more information about the various groups on offer people can email sylvaine.nicheallachain@gmail.com.

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