Love & Happiness


The Buddy Walk kicked off the early Sunday morning march from Aldevinco to Rizal Park. Individuals with the Down Syndrome, children and young adults, proudly hiked the route with their buddies beside them. This was just one of the awareness programs of the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines in Davao City.

It became a yearly event held on a February, the official Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Annually, the association's roster was turning new pages for its new registrants, a positive manifestation of their effective programs. With a wider comprehension about Down Syndrome within the family and the community, more people with the genetic condition are coming out in more ways than one. Consequently, more buddies have shown up to extend their support, held their hands and walked with them.

Down syndrome, also called Trisomy 21, is a chromosomal condition in which extra genetic material, in part or whole, on the 21st chromosome causes mental and physical delays in a child's development. The incidence is estimated at 1 per 733 births.

The presence of a support group is vital for the child with Down Syndrome and the parents as well. DSAPI, a non-profit organization, founded by a group of concerned parents and physicians in 1991, extends this through their various programs, one of which is the parent counseling. The parents are guided through their confusion, guilt, disappointment or fear and replaced with positive attitudes of understanding and hope, and love to nurture their children with Down Syndrome into their full potential. Healthcare and education for its members are two more of the aspects the foundation is into.

With the buddies around growing in number, there was every reason to be happy. The Buddy Walk became the Happy Walk a few years after. The rolling ball was consistently gathering moss.

It still is. This year's celebration of the Down Syndrome Awareness Month's Happy Walk, the eighth year since they took their advocacy to the streets, gathered hundreds of participants. Walking towards People's Park among throngs of Dabawenyos of all ages and backgrounds, the members with their families must be filled with joy, their beaming smiles were showing it. They felt and knew that there were more people holding their hands today.

It was a happy occasion and there was love all around.

Printed in SunStar Davao March 13, 2011