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Down syndrome

First Down Syndrome Centre for North Dublin opened on World Down Syndrome Day

“Without this centre, some of these families would still be waiting on services.”

THIS WORLD DOWN Syndrome Day marked a major milestone for Dublin’s northside, as its first dedicated Down Syndrome Centre was officially opened on Tuesday afternoon. 

Dozens of young families gathered at the house today to watch Lord Mayor of Fingal Councillor Howard Mahony cut the ribbon, with assistance from some of the other stakeholders in the centre. 

“We’re delighted to be opening a therapy-led clinic on such a momentous day. Without this centre, some of these families would still be waiting on services. We all know the power of early intervention so we’re very grateful to this charity to bring this centre to the northside,” Mahony said.

The centre itself has been serving the community since April of last year, and currently sees around 130 families. 

Triona Cussen, who runs the early-intervention and montessori programme, took many of the day’s guests on a tour of the facility – which is a large converted house opposite the Swords Fire Station.

Various members of the Oireachtas, including TDs Louise O’Neill and Duncan Smith, as well as Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee, were in attendance for ceremony, and were given a first-hand look at the centre’s two speech therapy rooms, the gym (which includes trampolines, climbing frames and other tools for strength, mobility and dexterity), a sensory room to encourage engagement with colourful and musical stimuli, and a large outdoor space which is used for cycling lessons.

“A lot of the children feel safer learning to cycle in a closed space,” Cussen says, pointing to the large secondary garden that functions as a cycle circuit, funded by a donation by daa. 

“It may sound hard to believe but all of the money for this comes either from donations or from fundraisers,” Cussen says, noting that family members have literally thrown themselves out of planes in order to finance some of the centre’s resources.

Cussen says that the primary goal of the centre is “to create a home away from home” for children and their parents. 

The centre itself is a very versatile space – so much so that FM104 was able to use one of the spare rooms as a live broadcasting room throughout the day, lending a party atmosphere to the colourful and joyous opening ceremony.

The Swords centre is the fifth such centre in Ireland and the second in Dublin, following the original in Sandyford, which opened in 2014. Down Syndrome Centre has other locations in Portlaoise, Cork, and Carrickmacross. 

If you want to donate to Down Syndrome Centre Ireland, you can do so by texting DSC to 50300 for a €4 donation.

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