My son James had a successful senior year at high school, completing all the state required studies and preparing for life after graduation. But James is not your typical high school student; he was born with Down syndrome, a genetic condition that affects 1 out of every 691 births in the United States. His future was not as clear. Being retired I was able to spend my days with James, ensured there was a lot of travel, exercise, extra math and English language training in his schedule. But it didn’t take long for us to see that his educational and social skills were decreasing, despite all these efforts. We needed help if James was going to become a productive member of the community and live a normal life in the future.
That’s when James and his dad found Friends of Down Syndrome.
We learned that mission of Friends of Down Syndrome is to create lifelong learning opportunities for teens and adults through education, community outreach and socialization. Friends of Down Syndrome envisions a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to continue their education, while enhancing their quality of life as a valued member of their community through their contributions.
To meet the needs of their students, Friends of Down Syndrome Academy offers:
Weekly classes on English, math, science, reading, health, and music
Speech class using ‘Talk Tools’ to help students overcome speech difficulties and poor muscle tone
Weekly classes with a resident certified physical trainer
Individual evaluations to ensure that each student receives the education that is appropriate to his or her specific situation
Maximum class size of 10 students per teacher, to provide individual attention and every classroom has an aide to support the certified teacher.
Weekly life skills training; usage of tools, painting, assembly of various items, and household chores.
Opportunities to serve in the community under the supervision and guidance of work coaches.
In the last three years, Friends of Down Syndrome has increased student enrollment to over 60 full time students with 20 teachers and aides. Recently they expanded their facilities by an additional 2,500 sq./ft. They have been able to accomplish this through the generous donations of many private and professional individuals and corporate sponsorships.
James and others benefit from the efforts and caring of the Friends of Down Syndrome only through the generosity of others who also care and who put their caring into action. James has grown in his education and social skills beyond all our family’s expectations. I would highly recommend that any parent or guardian with a member of their family with Down syndrome and has graduated from high school check out the Friends of Down Syndrome on FaceBook and their website www.friendsofdownsyndrome.org