Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 29th 2017 Contents tobagotoday.co.tt March 29 - 2017
More Than Meets the Eye
A large group of persons gathered at the
Conference Hall of the Magdalena Gran
Hotel last week to commemorate World
Down Syndrome Day 2017.
The audience was treated to musical per-
formances, lectures and motivational speech-
es by various authorities on the issue of
This year's featured presenter was famed
musician Sujeet Desai, who is an accom-
plished musician born with Down syndrome.
Sujeet plays seven instruments. Bb and Bass
clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Violin, Trumpet,
Piano & Drums and he has taught himself
to play some of the instruments. He said
people should not be judged based on their
"I sent messages with my music that brings
hope and joy and if you work hard without
giving up and if you work hard your dreams
will come true and you will have a bright
He added: "Nothing is impossible if you
keep your mind at it and by working hard.
Beauty is within and not from the looks
and once you admire that person and not
ignore their abilities you can accept them
De Sindoor Desai, Sujeet's mother who is
also a retired dentist spoke about her expe-
rience raising a child with down syndrome.
"When he was born we didn't know until
after they just gave us the baby and told us
he had Down syndrome and he may not be
able to do anything so just take him home
and do the best you can."
She said it was difficult to raise a child
with Down syndrome as both she and her
husband are dentists.
"We may have a medical background but
we had no clue about nurturing a child with
Down syndrome especially when your own
doctors and colleagues tell you he may not
be able to do anything."
She said they supported their son in his
interests and is very proud of what he has
Sujeet graduated with Honours from the
Berkshire Hills Music Academy in Massa-
chusetts after a two-year residential
Post-secondary study in Music and Human
Sujeet travels worldwide to do inspiration-
al solo music performances and self-advo-
Two documentaries were done on Sujeet's
life. He has been featured in the Wall Street
Journal and New York Times. He has also
done interviews which were aired on the
national television and he had been featured
on shows such as The View, 20/20, Oprah
Winfrey and WCNY. He was honoured by
NDSS as the National spokesperson for Down
Meanwhile, chairman and founder of The
Down Syndrome Family Network, Glen Niles
said more needs to be done for persons with
"We are so far behind the rest of the world
with regard to services that we provide
because we are very much entrenched in the
charity model. First, there's the medical
model where you try to fix the problem then
there's the charity model where you build
better facilities to take care of them you
build better schools but all of this is very
He said what should be implemented is a
social model to integrate children with Down
"This is where persons with Down syn-
drome are socially included in everything
including education, health and sporting as
well. Persons with disabilities can also par-
ticipate in other sports and not just Special
He said persons often hold the miscon-
ception that children born with Down syn-
drome are "special" and that is wrong. He
said while these persons should be protect-
ed, their sense of independence must be
developed and supported.
Feature speaker, self advocate and
motivational speaker, Surjeet Desai.
Students from the Technical Vocational School perform at World Down Syndrome Day
Observances at the Magdalena Grand Hotel.
President and Founder of Down Syndrome Family Network Glen Niles, left, and Secretary in the
Division of Health and Wellness Dr. Agatha Carrington.
Dr Agatha Carrington delivering feature
Special needs students to get new home
Special needs students at the Technical Vocational
Centre at Bon Accord will receive new accommodation
and additional services with the next three months.
The announcement was made by Secretary in the Divi-
sion of Health Wellness and Family Development, Dr Agatha
Carrington when she delivered an address at the 5th Toba-
go Edition of the Down Syndrome Family Network's World
Down Syndrome Day Conference, which was held at the
Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort, Lowlands, Toba-
go, last week.
This year's conference's theme was consistent with the
United Nations' theme for the year, which is: 'MyVoice-
MyCommunity -- Enabling people with Down syndrome to
speak up, be heard and influence government policy and
action, to be fully included in the community'
this conference was to create an avenue to advocate for
ALL persons with Down Syndrome and other persons with
disabilities and to increase awareness of their human right
to inclusion in all aspects of our society, Dr Carrington
"I commit that the Division will not only provide new
accommodation for our Technical Vocational Students but
include new services such as speech therapy which is
currently not available at the centre."
She asserted that this year's theme was timely as the
talents of persons with disabilities cannot be ignored any
"We need community participation to foster greater
inclusion and equity amongst persons with disabilities...we
are going to do the research to inform how our Division
and the Tobago House of Assembly can include persons
with disabilities in our future work plans."
Dr Carrington said the Division will continue to collab-
orate with organisations such as the Down Syndrome
Family Network, to continually provide opportunities for
growth to persons with disabilities on the island.
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