Jamaica Down's Syndrome Foundation keeps giving a little extra
Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
There is no grouping of persons that isn't deserving of love. A child with Down's syndrome requires even more love and patience than the average child. And if you ask those who relate to them on a day-to-day basis, they would say that before long, one can't see a difference between a child with Down's syndrome and any other child.
"I would not change Jada for the world. It is really a joy for us having her. She is so delightful. She is a blessing. And since we have had her, we have been to so many places and have met so many people. She is a real joy," said the mother of two about one of her children. That mother, Judith Richards, is also the principal of Hayes Primary School in Clarendon.
But, she admitted, it is not easy to have children with Down's syndrome.
"It's challenging in the sense that they require more attention, more of your time. In terms of their development, they are slow, so you have to give them a lot more of your time."
Richards is one of the directors at the six-year-old Jamaica Down's Syndrome Foundation (JSDF).
Recently, the group staged its third annual fund-raising event. This time, the event was at the organisation's Cunningham Avenue home. It was called 'A Night of Vintage Oldies'.
The intimate occasion had guests seated around tables placed on a nicely manicured lawn. They were treated to a live performance from Judy Mowatt, recorded music from Digital Audio, and a meal.
Before and during the buffet-style meal, Digital Audio serenaded the guests with classics played at the perfect volume. That was just the appetiser. Mowatt was to become the musical main course.
Before her opening song, she told the audience that she hoped that what she gave them would "not only entertain, but encourage and bless". And with that, she got going with Thank You Lord.
Then, the former member of the I-Threes continued on the gospel train with More Than an Ordinary Servant.
Her next selection was Unconditional Love. And Mowatt used the opportunity to address the issue of love.
"I would love to see brothers and sisters not only talk about this love, but live this love. And we cannot live this love without being connected to the lover, the giver of this love, the producer of this love, the manufacturer of this love, and He is God Almighty."
She followed with Many are Called. But this time, she abandoned the slightly elevated tiled stage for the grass. Meandering around tables, she continued her encouragement before returning for an encore with Bob Marley's One Love. The Jamaican songbird ended her stint with Rock My Soul.
Mowatt's exit was the cue for Digital Audio to turn up the volume. It also meant that the stage was now the space for patrons to go down memory lane. Selections such as Oh Carolina, Madness, Madness, You are my Miss Jamaica and Funky Town - to name a few - were the tunes that took patrons down that lane.
But before all that, A Night of Vintage Oldies began with a prayer and welcome and overview. Administrator Marjorie Scott-Anderson did the honours. She thanked Charmaine Scott for the vision and explained that meetings were held every two months and that various experts were invited to address parents.
The audience learned that experienced parents are paired with newer ones and that the focus of the foundation for 2012 is to establish an activity centre for children with Down's syndrome.
The JSDF was founded in 2007 by Dr Charmaine Scott. It was born out of the reality that she was getting many patients with a heart condition with symptoms of Down's syndrome. The foundation was set up as a support system for parents and children. The group's motto is 'we have a little extra', the extra being the one additional chromosome that children with Down's syndrome have.