Society must do more to include people with Down syndrome: Edwin Tong
Society needs to band together to better integrate people with Down syndrome in the wider community, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said yesterday.
"Our persons with Down syndrome need our active participation to make Singapore a safe and supportive home for them," said Mr Tong, who is also Second Minister for Law, at Down Syndrome Association's (DSA) celebration of World Down Syndrome Day.
For example, Singaporeans can share their experiences and knowledge about Down syndrome to help others better understand the genetic condition and the challenges that people with Down syndrome face, he said.
We can also support the education and training of people with Down syndrome to create more opportunities to nurture their abilities, he added.
One in 800 people has Down syndrome, which results from a person having three copies of chromosome 21.
World Down Syndrome Day is therefore celebrated globally on March 21 every year. It has been celebrated in Singapore since 2006 and officially observed by the United Nations from 2012.
The 16th edition of DSA's event was held in a largely virtual format because of the Covid-19 pandemic, with some activities live-streamed from the DSA Centre in Junction 8.
Mr Tong said Singapore has taken significant steps to recognise and celebrate people with Down syndrome in the community.
In 2007, it launched a national plan that aims to engage people with disabilities and enhance their quality of life through integration and inclusion.
Singapore is now in its third instalment of the Enabling Masterplan, a five-year road map that Mr Tong said will take the country further in its journey towards being more caring and inclusive.
DSA chairman Ratnasabapathy Sivanandam said one of the biggest misconceptions worldwide is that people with special needs are generally totally dependent on others.
"Our community has become more inclusive in accepting persons with special needs and this has spurred many of our members with Down syndrome to develop their skill sets and independence to achieve their maximum potential," he said.
"However, much work remains to be done, especially in getting our society to eliminate all forms of prejudices against persons with special needs."