Hout Bay mother places spotlight on Down syndrome

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month and a Hout Bay mother of four has set out to bridge the gap between people with disabilities and those without.

As part of her efforts, Michelle Abrahams organised a Down syndrome Awareness Day cruise to Seal Island on the Nauticat Charter, for people with Down syndrome, on Saturday October 18.

Ms Abrahams gave birth to a baby boy with the genetic disorder two years ago and felt the need to celebrate the moment by organising the cruise.

“I had a lot of questions when I gave birth to my boy and was very anxious as you know in our society people do not discuss Down Syndrome or they have a very negative outlook on it,” she said.

She decided to approach the Nauticat Charter, where she is the office manager, and requested permission to invite some people on the cruise. “I asked my employer if could invite a few people that I’ve met on this amazing journey and that’s how it all came about,” Ms Abrahams said.

New to the world of parenting a child with Down syndrome, Ms Abrahams met some inspiring people at the Toy Library at RedCross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, who made her look at things slightly differently.

“We got to meet parents of all age groups that had children with Down syndrome and I felt the need to have a get together just to celebrate our angels. I didn’t quite expect the response that I got, but everyone had an amazing time,” she said.

Through the cruise, Ms Abrahams’ main goal was to bridge the gap between people with disabilities and people perceived to be “normal”.

“People who have disabilities have so much more to offer than what they are given credit for and I’m hoping to change people’s way of thinking so that they too will be included in everything and seen for the amazing human beings that they’ve been created by God to be,” she said.

Ward councillor Roberto Quintas boarded the Nauticat Charter to spend the day with the children and their families.

“I had the opportunity to engage with the various organisations who took part in the activity as well as parents and especially the amazing children and young adults of whom today was all about,” he said.

“So many differently gifted, wonderful and happy people who brought smiles to my day and to those of the staff and crew of the Nauticat who provided a tour.”