Back in 2016, the Big Lottery Fund awarded £600,000 to Foyle Down Syndrome Trust in Derry/Londonderry, a fantastic organisation who work with children and young people with Down syndrome across the Derry and Strabane, and Causeway Cost and Glens District Council areas. Two years on and the group is going from strength to strength, running a Healthy Eating programme, yoga sessions, music therapy, and even hatching chickens for an Outdoor Learning project!
The money, raised by National Lottery players, went towards the group’s five-year Healthy Hearts and Minds project, which gets young people aged 8-25 involved in a huge range of activities, from gardening and growing vegetables to mentoring and sports. Through these activities, the children and young people make new friends and deepen their existing relationships. The activities also help the participants’ health and well-being and give opportunities to get stuck in with the local community.
Adam Morrison was 10 when the project began, but he’s been supported by Foyle Down Syndrome Trust since he was a baby. His dad, Kevin, is delighted with the support his family has received from the organisation.
“Foyle Down Syndrome Trust contacted us a few months after Adam was born to offer services and put us in contact with other parents,” says Kevin. “A parent came to our house and she was very honest about her experience but she showed us that there was light at the end of the tunnel made us feel more positive.
“Having Down syndrome means it can take a longer time for Adam to learn new things and get comfortable with new situations. It used to be that he couldn’t handle social groupings or loud noises but with the support of Foyle Down Syndrome Trust over the past few years he is like a different person and has a very busy social life.
“I spent so many years standing in corridors in hospitals but now I’m on the side lines of his football games or watching him swimming.”
Growing up is a difficult time for any child – the transition from primary to secondary school or from childhood into young adulthood are tricky times for all sorts of families. People with Down syndrome can sometimes find change particularly difficult to cope with, and loneliness can be a real concern.
Kevin says, “I’ve spoken to a lot of parents who have older kids with Down syndrome who started feeling isolated, lonely and depressed as they got older so the big thing for me, as well as development, is the social aspect of all these group activities.
“Knowing that Foyle Down Syndrome Trust have funding for a five year project which Adam will benefit from is very reassuring. Without these activities and being with the other kids Adam would be lost.”
Thanks to National Lottery players, Foyle Down Support Trust is able to continue its incredible work supporting young people and their families. Check out the links below to learn more about their projects:
@FDSTrust on Twitter