It was a touching scene to see close to 100 parents as they urged and grappled with their children to perform the ‘zumba’ aerobic morning exercise on the playground of HELP International School recently.
For most of these children they are not like normal kids. They have Down syndrome, a genetic disorder that is typically associated with physical growth delays and mild to moderate intellectual disability. However, there was one thing that was clearly exhibited by them — they all had great fun.
In an effort to raise awareness and to celebrate individuals with Down syndrome, the Faculty of Communication along with its students jointly organised a fundraising event for Bunga-Bunga Syurga, a support group that is used as a platform for parents to share knowledge and experience in raising children with Down syndrome.
This event was mooted during a discussion between Nurdiyana Mohd Jonis, a lecturer from the Faculty of Communication and with Puan Hairun Nizah, a representative of Bunga-Bunga Syurga.
“I taught the class Event Management and this offers a good opportunity for my students to experience an event of such scale,” said Nurdiyana. “Basically, we just want society to recognise people with Down syndrome and accept that they can contribute to the community.”
“We want to promote their capabilities and potential. We want to tell people that having a Down syndrome kid is not a burden,” she added. The greatest fun of all was to watch the kids painting, doing acrobatic stunts and reading poems, just like normal children.
There were various activities lined up during the half-day event. These were a face-painting booth, individual and group singing and dancing on a stage, and other fun-filled activities designed to enhance kids’ creativity and motor skills. There was also a magician, clown and storyteller that entertained the audience during the event.
The organising committee successfully collected around RM4,000 to be donated to Bunga-Bunga Syurga. The programme was financed through crowdfunding of students’ contribution and personal donation, as well as through their main sponsor, Equal Media Sdn Bhd. Through this fundraising event, support will be given to the parents and children of Bunga-Bunga Syurga.
Datin Chan Kam Yoke, the Group CEO of HELP, closed the event with a speech and cake-cutting ceremony. “With guidance and training, they have the greatest potential and ability to contribute and play a role in society. At the same time, we as members of society must be responsive to give them the opportunity to excel in their own way,” she said.
“I found that planning and carrying out the actual event of ‘Our Colours’ Down syndrome awareness programme has been more rewarding – we give hope to those who need it,” said Jocelyn Cheng, the event-activity leader. In the 10 weeks leading up to the event, the students learned a great deal from organising and putting together every detail while helping to raise awareness and celebrating individuals with Down syndrome.