WHAT WE DO – YOUTH | ADULT SELF-ADVOCACY, LIFE AND JOB SKILLS TRAINING PROGRAMME

Meet George Lesotho, one of our success stories

Since March 2012, George has been working in full time employment as a General Assistant on Eskom-based projects. Before securing this position, George successfully completed several learnerships in different industries using the skills he acquired.

It was through The Down Syndrome Association Gauteng founding Self-Advocacy Programme that George was able to access the above skills training and complete a specialised learnership.

While George was working on his professional development, he was supporting his community by holding the Chair of The Down Syndrome Association Gauteng Self-Advocacy Group until 2013, actively promoting awareness campaigns in disadvantaged communities in the Vaal region.

In 2005, George Lesotho captained the Special Olympics National Hockey Team in Japan. A gifted athlete, he participated in Floor Hockey with Special Olympics South Africa.

George’s story is a story of determination, perseverance and leadership in the face of many obstacles. While his successes are his own, people with disabilities like George Lesotho need support to realise their full potential.

We, at The Down Syndrome Association Gauteng – AIM to be that support!

Self-Advocacy Support Programmes WORK.

Point One

Self-Advocacy Support Programmes give people with disabilities confidence and dignity.

Point Two

Self-Advocacy Support Programmes help people with disabilities make valuable contributions to their communities.

Point Three

Self-Advocacy Support Programmes help people with disabilities take control of their lives.

WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO: OUR VISION

On completion of their schooling education, many young adults with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities are especially vulnerable to boredom, depression and aggression. They see their siblings and friends getting on with their lives and experiencing the freedom of adulthood, yet this is not happening to them. The loss of support networks has damaging consequences on the continued development and life prospects for these young people. Some are placed into protective workshops which often do not offer meaningful activities and opportunities, or are left at home on a daily basis with little to no social interaction or academic opportunities.

We aim to uphold these four core constitutional rights: Dignity, Equality, Freedom, and Ubuntu.

How can we achieve this?

The Down Syndrome Association Gauteng aims works in close partnership with identified Schools of Specialised Education and Learners in their last phase of schooling to show that South Africa can be a true barrier-breaker and leader in inclusion and transformation.

The DSAG aims to deal with these challenges through programmes specifically designed to enhance the abilities of learners and to develop their skills sets in order to successfully include them in their communities, in society and in the workplace.

Our self-advocacy programme is therefore an important social support network that encourages solidarity and facilitates agency
for people with disabilities.

The Down Syndrome Association Gauteng (TDSAG) has the vision that persons with disabilities will be accepted for their abilities, rather than their disabilities. We focus on the successful integration of people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities by supporting and empowering them to enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as other people.

THE OUTREACH SUPPORT SELF-ADVOCACY, LIFE & JOB SKILLS TRAINING PROGRAMME: OBJECTIVES

The objective of this programme is to empower youth with Down syndrome and other intellectual and physical disabilities to be able to stand up and speak for themselves, in order to have their rights upheld and to be respected as individuals. 

Very often people with disabilities do not get the opportunity of saying what is important to them.  The Nothing About Us Without Us Self-Advocacy Programme has been specifically designed to increase the level of functioning and capabilities of self-advocates within our organisation.

Through this programme, TDSAG is able to identify individual capabilities and provide appropriate support, such as access to specialised learnerships, job skills training and meaningful supported employment opportunities.  With this programme we aim to provide hands-on support to those most marginalised in our communities.

In a country chronically plagued by high unemployment, the employment of disabled people is often overlooked as they are excluded from the normal economy and society either by their disability or the prejudices the disabled face. According to the World Report on Disability (2011) disabled persons have a far less change of being employed, with similar trends observed in job advancement and security.  One of the main issues highlighted causing this trend both locally and internationally, is a severe lack of skills investment into disabled people when they are young adults.  As a result, many of them are unemployable, even if their disability is only physical.

At The Down Syndrome Association Gauteng, we are realistic, that no person with an intellectual disability is ever going to be an engineer or astronaut. However, they can and do contribute greatly to society whilst also uplifting their social and economic conditions to the benefit of all when given a chance, they just need to be given opportunities.

Persons with a disability can contribute greatly to society.

Point One

It is up to individuals, business and society along with government, to come up with solutions for disabled employment.

Point Two

However, government cannot and never will solve the plight of the disabled by itself.

Point Three

What is needed even more, is a change in mind-set and to have the established prejudices changed through facts and experiences.

At The Down Syndrome Association Gauteng, we are realistic, that no person with an intellectual disability is ever going to be an engineer or astronaut. However, they can and do contribute greatly to society whilst also uplifting their social and economic conditions to the benefit of all when given a chance, they just need to be given opportunities.

We offer numerous courses to up-skill our members with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities. These courses develop independency, literacy and job skills.

Individual development plans are drawn up by a multi-professional team, which allows each individual the opportunity to develop to their full capacity. Their families are included in these development plans and continually supported, in order to assist their family member with a disability, in their own home environment and community.

The disabled are no different to us. They only wish to live a happy and fulfilling life. Unlike us, they do not just have bad luck or negative circumstances affecting their lives, but also an intellectual or physical disability, that makes their hurdles even harder to overcome.

The only DISABILITY in life is a BAD ATTITUDE!

So many, youth and adults with disabilities are living with feelings of total inadequacy, are isolated, unemployed, disadvantaged by poverty and living in homes, where domestic violence is a common occurrence. They are in desperate need of guidance and stability. Our mission, is to teach them, help them and show them, that they are not a mistake and that, they are worthy.

We aim to assist them, in being able to accomplish their dreams and to support and equip them, to be able to live healthy and moral lives and how, to feel good and proud about themselves. How to be successful and how to communicate successfully and how, by making the right choices, they are able to turn their lives around and live with a positive attitude.

THE SELF-ADVOCACY, LIFE AND JOB SKILLS TRAINING PROGRAMME: OUTCOMES

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White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (WPRPD)
Approved by Cabinet on 9 December 2015
The WPRPD is built on nine (9) Strategic Pillars
The Down Syndrome Association Gauteng Self-Advocacy, Life and Job Skills Programme aligns with the following strategic pillars outlined in the White Paper on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (WPRPD):

Strategic Pillar 3: Supporting Sustainable Integrated Community Life.

Strategic Pillar 4: Promoting and Supporting the Empowerment of Children, Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities.

Strategic Pillar 5: Reducing Economic Vulnerability and Releasing Human Capital.

Strategic Pillar 6: Strengthening the Representative Voice of Persons with Disabilities.