The South African Constitution provides for the removal of barriers to integrating vulnerable groups into mainstream society. However, of the major pillars on the country’s national transformation agenda, disability continues to lag behind in spite of legislation aimed at normalising the lives of persons with disabilities. A key issue is the lack of mainstreaming.
The South African Constitution strives to inculcate an inclusive mindset towards all vulnerable people who deserve the dignity and right to be recognised and function as participating members of society. In reality, discrimination against disabled people continues to be socially created and has little to do with impairment. People with disabilities in South Africa are often made to feel that being disabled is their own fault and that they have less value in our society than able bodied people. Unfortunately, difference and diversity continue to be undervalued and stigmatized, promoting fear, ignorance and prejudice.
There is hope, however. Organisations like The Down Syndrome Association Gauteng (TDSAG) work tirelessly to promote the rights of people with disabilities with programmes and initiatives that encourage persons with a disability to value themselves and their differences, and empower them to become active, positive contributors to their communities.
“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen .”
- The Down syndrome Association (Gauteng) is a registered non-profit organisation and was established in 1986.
- Our mission is to align our services with international trends and best practices in the field of intellectual disability.
- We are committed to work to improve the quality of life of all persons born with Down syndrome and other intellectual and physical disabilities, to promote their inherent right to love with independence and dignity, and to be active members of their communities.
- We respect religious and cultural diversity, and we prioritise our work in disadvantaged communities where our services can contribute to social development.
- We work in the spirit of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities, and we strive to promote these rights in South Africa.
In the last 10 years, we as the TDSAG have grown from having only one outreach support group into an organisation with 10 established and successful outreach support groups.
We are widely and closely allied in effective partnerships, locally and globally. Our support network includes alliances with local government, professionals from the public and private care sectors, academic institutions (including schools for specialised education), and international organisations in the field of intellectual disability.
Our hard work has raised much needed awareness and continues to help change people’s negative perceptions about Down syndrome. Our support and intervention programmes have transformed lives that would otherwise have been forgotten.