Organisation spreading their wings

Genes to Success, a Down syndrome awareness organisation, commemorated Youth Day by launching the new branch.

A Bonteheuwel Down syndrome awareness organisation has extended its reach, by launching a branch in Lentegeur in Mitchell’s Plain.

Genes to Success (GETS) also commemorated Youth Day at the launch, specifically aimed at children with special needs, on Thursday June 16, at the Lobelia hall.

Among those who joined the GETS Bonteheuwel branch at this event, were guest speakers Advocate Fairouz Naggia-Luddy, who is also an activist for social justice and human rights; ward councillor Goawa Timm and Enayatulla Hamza from the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC’s) School of Government department.

Founder of GETS, Faseega Coetzee, said: “We decided to have iftaar together, as it was hosted during the month of Ramadaan. This day was dedicated to our children with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities.”

Ms Timm spoke about the rights of special needs people.

“People with disabilities and special needs must be accepted and treated with dignity and respect. They too, have equal rights, just like all members of the human race,” Ms Timm said.

She also encouraged the youth of today to make wise choices for their future and learn from the youth of the past who fought for justice and freedom.

Ms Nagia-Luddy said: “Whereas June 16 commemorates the youth’s struggle against the apartheid regime and its oppressive draconian laws, the struggle for our youth continues. When it comes to the integration and inclusion of differently-abled children, we find that they are still forced onto the peripheries of society. The obligations on the state extend to more than just ensuring the integration of our differently-abled people, they should ensure their inclusion. As for the youth, our children need discipline and they need order, but as adults we need to ensure that this is done non-violently and positively. Our society has become more violent, more complex. Our children are left to navigate this, often on their own. While we as parents struggle to survive, to put bread on the table, we are often forced to work long hours. Our children often have to come home to empty houses. Our children are left vulnerable to be preyed on by institutionalised gangs who offer them a sense of belonging, respect and money.”

Mymoena Williams, who will be leading GETS Lentegeur, said they are trying to get more special needs children to attend GETS events and projects. “I encourage parents with special needs children to make use of this opportunity – bring your children and make use of our resources. This is one of the reasons we have events of this magnitude,” she said.

Muneeba Edwards entertained the guests with the recital of her poetry about life. Call Faseega Coetzee at 073 779 3357 or Mymoena Williams at 079 304 5757 for details.