Down Syndrome Ireland Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day.

Down Syndrome Ireland Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day.

ADULTS with Down syndrome from across the country celebrated World Down Syndrome Day today at the iconic Mansion House in Dublin.


The adults, aged between 18-45, are all participating in a unique literacy programme called LATCH-ON which is being rolled out by Down Syndrome Ireland across its educational centres. The theme of this year’s World Down Syndrome Day is Lifelong Learning and in keeping with this DSI is currently rolling out a two-year programme specifically aimed at developing long-term and post-school skills for people with Down syndrome.


It is the first time the programme, which was developed by the School of Education at the prestigious University of Queensland, Australia, has been rolled out in Europe.


It began on a pilot basis last March and will be rolled out across 13 centres at a cost of €1million by the end of 2013.  More than 160 students will complete the programme by year end which will help them live more independent lives.


Longitudinal studies conducted at the University of Queensland on individuals with Down syndrome have revealed they do not in fact plateau in their development at the age of 12 which was previously widely believed to be the case. 


This critical research highlights how teachers and professionals often do not know the potential of these people until they are provided with opportunities to develop their learning lifelong.


On this basis LATCH-ON was developed to provide greater opportunities for adults with Down syndrome to continue their literacy development in a post-secondary environment, using computer technology to enhance literacy, self-confidence, independence and employment opportunities. 


The highly successful two-year post-school programme is unlike other literacy programmes for typically developed individuals and research has shown that it significantly improves students’ literacy and enhances their overall confidence in life.


Among those who have benefited from the programme is 28-year-old Amy Purcell from Kildare who is fulfilling her lifelong dream of being able to read and write and send text messages to her nephews and nieces for the first time.


Pat Clarke, Chief Executive of Down Syndrome Ireland, whose son David is enrolled in the programme, said: “The United Nations made 2003 – 2012 the decade for literacy and as literacy is a basic human right, we believe Irish people with Down syndrome have been ignored for far too long when it comes to our educational system. Educational opportunities depend on literacy and as we know literacy is the bedrock for basic education for all.”


He went onto say: “People with Down syndrome are still perceived as the eternal children. We want to change perceptions of them through education. If we attain this goal it will enable employers to view people with Down syndrome as potential employees.We have seen great achievements from this world class programme of education and sincerely hope it will enhance many people’s learning skills.”


Grainne Murphy, Director of Policy, Ethics and Independence with DSI said: “Latch-On has a strong foundation in educational research and practice. DSI is developing a community of practice – a community with literacy links to other social endeavours that assist in the development of lifelong learners,”


The students and their teachers from 13 educational centres across the country gathered at the Mansion House yesterday on World Down Syndrome Day.


Special guests included journalist and author Sylvia Thompson, author Tom Clonan and author Michael Gannon who has Down syndrome. Michael read  a poignant passage from his book ‘Straight Up No Sugar’. 


For Further Information Contact: 

Pat Clarke CEO of Down Syndrome Ireland 083 3914566

Grainne Murphy, Director of Policy, Ethics and Independence at DSI 087 2535809

Edel O’Connell at Fuzion Communications -086 788 7318 

Share the News:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis ultricies nec