Derry’s Foyle Down Syndrome Trust has been awarded a funding boost of almost £600,000 by the Big Lottery Fund.
The charity received the £599,032 for their five year Healthy Hearts and Minds project.
The Healthy Hearts and Minds project is providing support to 75 children and young people with Down Syndrome and their families. It is working with children and young people aged 8-25 in the Derry and Strabane, and Causeway Coast and Glens District Council areas. Activities include a gardening programme, outdoor pursuits, health workshops, and a mentoring support programme.
Ten-years-old Derry boy Adam Morrison has Down Syndrome and has been supported by Foyle Down Syndrome Trust since he was a baby. Adam lives with his father Kevin, mother Jo and sister Anna.
Adam’s family are delighted that the support will continue over the next five years through the Healthy Hearts and Minds project.
Adam’s dad Kevin said news that Adam had Down Syndrome came as a shock when he was born.
“We found out 20 minutes after Adam was born that he had Down Syndrome. It was a shock to us as nothing had been indicated in our scans and we had no idea the full extent of what it meant,” he said.
“The first couple of months we were living by a diary because there were so many appointments: physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and gene therapy. It’s a lot to deal with and it was a struggle, but we slowly came to terms with it.
“Foyle Down Syndrome Trust contacted us after a few months to offer services and put us in contact with other parents. A parent came to our house and she was very honest about her experience but she showed us that there was light at the end of the tunnel and made us feel more positive.”
Kevin explained that with the help and support of Foyle Down Syndrome Trust, life has changed significantly for Adam and his family.
“Having Down Syndrome means it can take a longer time for Adam to learn new things and get comfortable with new situations. It used to be that he couldn’t handle social groupings or loud noises but with the support of Foyle Down Syndrome Trust over the past few years he is like a different person and has a very busy social life.
“I spent so many years standing in corridors in hospitals but now I’m on the side lines of his football games or watching him swimming. He still surprises me. We went to a local football match that his friend was playing in. It was noisy and there were crowds and I thought he’s going to hate this and he’s going to cry, but he had the confidence to go to the changing rooms with his friend and high-five all the players and even got his picture taken for the local paper. He was in his element.”
“As a parent it’s great to watch his growing confidence and see him handling these situations different to I ever thought he would.”
Kevin added that as Adam turns eleven he’s reassured that the funding boost for Foyle Down Syndrome Trust will mean support for him over the next five years through the Healthy Hearts and Minds project.