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February is the National Down Syndrome Consciousness Month in the Philippines!

Proclaimed in February 2002, this annual celebration is highlighted by many different activities that aims to not only raise public awareness about the condition but also to encourage and support families who have a child with Down Syndrome.

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What is Down Syndrome?

To understand Down Syndrome better, let’s look at some of the old myths about this condition:

MYTH: Down Syndrome babies are born to older women – those in their perimenopausal stage.

FACT: 80% of children with Down Syndrome are born to women ages 35 and below.

MYTH: People with Down Syndrome have low intellect.

FACT: People with Down Syndrome have an average I.Q.  They all have the capability to learn.

MYTH: People with Down Syndrome are placed in a special institution.

FACT: People with Down Syndrome lives in the comfort of their homes together with their families who loves and cares for them.

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According to the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, Inc. (DSAPI), one in every 800 births have Down Syndrome; 1,875 cases per year and more than 100,000 affected families.  It is estimated that there is one person with the condition born every 4 hours.  About half of them have heart defects and most of them needs special care for thyroid problems, elevated uric acid, respiratory infections, constipation, hearing-visual-speech problems, and many other health concerns that they have to endure throughout their lives.

Down Syndrome is a naturally occurring chromosomal arrangement that has always been part of the human condition, universally present across racial, gender or socioeconomic lines. It usually causes varying degrees of intellectual and physical disability and associated medical issues. – DSAPI

However, with proper medical attention and the support of families and communities, people with Down Syndrome can live normal lives.

This is the clear message that last Sunday’s ‘Happy Walk’ wished to convey to all people!

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Happy Walk

DSAPI and SM Cares in celebration of the National Down Syndrome Consciousness Month launched over a decade ago a day-long program that not only raises much-needed awareness for the condition, but also showcases the individual talents and triumphs of people who have them.  They named the activity ‘Happy Walk.’

Happy Walk 2015 started with a mass at the The Block, SM City North EDSA followed by a parade or a ‘Happy Walk’ inside the mall, the Sky Garden area and finally inside the Sky Dome.  Complete with banners, mascots, cosplayers and bands – the parade has indeed called the attention of early mall goers and tenants.

Happy Walk Eucharistic Celebration at The Block, SM City North EDSA
Happy Walk Eucharistic Celebration at The Block, SM City North EDSA

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Parade Starts
Parade Starts

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According to DSAPI Chairman Tony Pasia, this year’s Happy Walk is by far their biggest gathering.  Barangay Brina alone led by 2013 Special Olympics Global Youth Ambassador Brina Kei Maxino, the daughter of Winston Maxino (Happiest Pinoy 2010 Awardee)  has filled up a third of the seat inside the Sky Dome already.

Tony Pasia
Tony Pasia
Winston Maxino
Winston Maxino

It is therefore a most welcomed news when Engr. Bien Mateo, Head of SM Cares Program for Disability Affairs announced that ‘Happy Walk’ will move to a bigger SM venue next year.

Engr. Bien Mateo
Engr. Bien Mateo

DSAPI President Elmer Lapena said that he is both sad and happy in hearing the great news.  Sad because they will be leaving SM City North EDSA, Happy Walk’s home for many years and happy because with a bigger venue, they’ll be able to accommodate more people who want to join the campaign next year.

Elmer Lapena
Elmer Lapena

Also present during the event were, SM President Hans T. Sy, the officers and board members of DSAPI, SM Cares executives and representatives from the various SM Groups.

Hans Sy with the kids
Hans Sy with the kids
'You Are Special' says one of the banner at the Happy Walk parade
‘You Are Special’ says one of the banner at the Happy Walk parade
with the support of loving family and friends
with the support of loving family and friends
Singing of the National Anthem at Sky Dome
Singing of the National Anthem at Sky Dome
Hans Sy with the Happy Walk 2015 cake
Hans Sy with the Happy Walk 2015 cake
Cake blowing
Cake blowing
Hans Sy receives a special   commendation from DSAPI Chair Tony Pasia
Hans Sy receives a special commendation from DSAPI Chair Tony Pasia

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MORE Pics of the event at: RAINCHECK HAPPY WALK 2015 PHOTOS

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raindeocampo

Writer, Wanderer, Child of God

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