Emirati Launches Training Program for Professionals to Help People With Down Syndrome
Despite the rapid rise of inclusivity in the Arab World, it is rare still for people with disabilities to find a safe space to express themselves. It seems, however, that there are some entities out there actively seeking to change this reality.
According to The National, the Emirate Down Syndrome Association, headed by Dr. Manal Jaroor, has unveiled a nation-wide program, in which experts will train therapists, counselors, and teachers across Down Syndrome support groups to encourage their students to speak for themselves more often.
“We want to know what people who have Down syndrome are thinking, dreaming. We need to understand what they need. We want to know what is upsetting them and what makes them happy. We want to know what they feel inside and, for that, we need to train people who work with them,” Dr. Jaroor stated.
The year-long program is scheduled to begin next September as part of the preparation for the World Down Syndrome Congress in Dubai next year. The three-day conference is scheduled to host around 1,000 healthcare professionals to discuss legal protection and cultural integration, marking the UAE as the first Arab country in history to host this event.
“Some people in our country with Down syndrome can express themselves but we want this to extend to many more people so we can hear from everyone,” Dr Jaroor said.
An advocate for the differently-abled sine 2005, Dr. Jaroor happens to be drawing from her own personal experience. She is the mother of Mahmoud, who happens to have Down Syndrome.
“I want to go to university. I want to work, get money. I want to drive a blue car,” said Mahmoud, who won gold for the sport bocce at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi this year.
Mahmoud studies at a standard school and is expected to graduate next year. The 20-year-old young is interested in photography as well as robotics.
Dr Jaroor and her family have been through a lot, with people signaling Mahmoud out with either looks or hurtful words. However, this brave family has learned to break the stigma, especially Mahmoud, who has a lot to teach to those who do not fully understand his condition. His awareness has inspired his mother to start this program and to encourage others, like him, to speak their minds.