Primary Education Undergraduates trained by DSA in Wales

DSA Wales
As part of the Down’s Syndrome Association’s (DSA’s) ongoing training services, the Association’s Manager for Wales, Julian Hallett, has recently delivered a day of lecture to over 80 trainee primary school teachers (studying for their PGCE in primary education) at Trinity St David’s University in South West Wales.
This welcome invitation came as part of the University’s diversity week, where students accessed a week of lectures on a variety of inclusion topics including disability awareness, sensory impairment, pupils who have English as an additional language.  A number of sessions focused on children with specific learning disabilities, including Down’s syndrome.
Julian said:
“It was a lively and informative day. This was a wonderful opportunity to get the attention of trainee teachers at the start of their teaching careers. Their enthusiasm was refreshing. When asked the question ‘who here went to school with someone with Down’s syndrome?’ the majority of hands went up. This highlights the new generation of professionals for whom inclusion is part of their own personal experience. It was also encouraging to note that, when asked about the placements from which the students had just returned almost a quarter 80 students reported that they had been working in schools where a pupil with Down’s syndrome was already included. Three  trainees reported that they had been teaching in a class with a child who had Down’s syndrome”.
The training sessions focused on the learning profile of pupils with Down’s syndrome, approaches to successful inclusion and practical examples of differentiation drawn from the DSA’s education resources. In addition to discussion sessions, students watched a DVD case study filmed in a primary school in Cardiff, where a newly qualified teacher spoke of his experience of including a Year 3 pupil in his class.  The case study showed the importance of the relationship between the class teacher and the child’s teaching assistant and the need for the class teacher to ‘maintain ownership of the child’s learning’ and  to work collaboratively with the child’s 1:1, sharing resources and directing the differentiation.
The post lecture evaluations listed that a number of the trainees intended to read-up more on the subject of Down’s syndrome and download resources from the DSA’s website.
It is proposed that the DSA lectures will become an established part of the curriculum for trainees in the future.

Arial Circular Logo - cropped                           Trinity St David

Posted in Training

DSActive: Reggie Dornan, North East Coach of the Year; Newcastle United Foundation

Reggie case study photo2   DSActive NEW LOGO (533x552)
Originally from Belfast, Reggie worked and coached Belfast Deaf United from 2009 where he achieved great success with the team; winning the British deaf cup three times. Reggie relocated to Newcastle to work as the Disability Football Coordinator for Newcastle United Foundation. Reggie has been leading the delivery and coordination of Newcastle United Foundation’s DSActive team since its inception in 2012. The sessions have gone from strength to strength and the team have been involved in a growing number of monthly football tournaments and events over the past couple of years.  They also attended the annual National Football Festival at St Georges Park.
The DSActive team sessions are amongst Reggie’s favourite throughout the week. There are many aspects of the sessions that Reggie enjoys: seeing each player fully engaged with the activity, witnessing every individual develop their technical, social and physical skills and the fantastic support from the parents of the DSActive team members.
Ultimately, if the players are enjoying their football, then Reggie is enjoying it!
Just like any team, Reggie can see that the only challenges faced during the sessions are related to the technical football skills.  With good coaching and regular practice any player will master the techniques.  He says, They all enjoy playing and that is what we set out to achieve when we play. The group always listen to what we require them to do.”
Reggie has a number of proud memories of his time with the DSActive team so far: Shortly after the sessions started, Newcastle United FC first team visited and played alongside the DSActive players – a  truly memorable experience for everyone.  Another triumph occurred only four weeks after the launch of the DSActive team: they attended the annual National Festival and managed to bring the trophy back to the North East! It was an exceptional achievement for the both the DSActive team and their coaches.
Reggie is achieving many of his ambitions for the Newcastle United Foundation DSActive team: on 21 March 2015 (on World Down Syndrome Day) Arsenal DSActive team travelled to Newcastle to play against Newcastle DSActive team. Both sides followed their match by watching the first teams lock horns in the Premier League at St James’ Park.
Reggie recently received an award for North East Coach of the year; an award that reflects the outstanding work Reggie has done within coaching and community development. Reggie says,“The award is first and foremost a really personal achievement, however it does recognise our Newcastle United Foundation and the hard working and dedicated group of coaches in Football Development in the North East.”
Find out about all DSActive football and tennis sessions across the country: DSActive

DSActive NEW LOGO (533x552)     NUlogo

Posted in DSActive

Katie’s poem about “My cat Willow”

Originally posted on Down 2 Earth Magazine Editor's Blog:

this  is  Katie’s  Guest blog it is about her Cat Willow.

Hi Kate

my name is Katie and I have Down’s syndrome. I am 20 years old.

My hobbies are writing poems, singing, art, aquaerobics and horseriding. My nephew lives near me and he is 1 year old and I love to look after him and play with him.

I thought it would be a good idea to write you a poem about my cat willow. she is great and I love her lots. I hope you like my poem.

Poem about my cat willow           

Willow is mine to love for ever

Willow is in my arms comfortable and warm

Willow is an angel floating down to me

Willow is my autumn breeze

Willow is my flower blooming in to a wild flower

Willow is the gentle snow falling perfectly on the soft ground

Willow is the light to the sun


View original 37 more words

Posted in Uncategorized

Danny Mardell Knockout Challenge – 6 June 2015

Now in its 10th year, the Danny Mardell Knockout Challenge once again allows you the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the formidable Bobby Moore as you play at Boleyn Ground, the home to West Ham United FC.  This year is the last year that fabulous football tournament takes place, so don’t miss your chance to be there on 6 June 2015.

Danny Mardell Knockout Challenge

Not only will you have the chance to change in the player’s changing rooms (home and away) and then to walk up the famous stairs, through the tunnel and run onto the pitch – a truly memorable experience for any football fan –  but the tournament also offers you a minimum of three 15 minute matches plus lunch (and a free pint!)

Danny Mardell Knockout Challenge2

Players from previous Danny Mardell Knockout Challenge teams have said:
“A GREAT day!”
“All the team were thrilled to play on the Hammers pitch”
“I would like to express my sincere thanks to you and all involved in the Danny Mardell Knockout Challenge. It was a fantastic experience for a fantastic cause.  The event was a pleasure to be involved in and we hope that that success was matched by the money you raised.”
“The organisation of the whole day was excellent”
To take part in this wonderful day, the costs are £75 per player or £700 for a team of 10 (the final is played 10 vs 10 on the full pitch). We are also asking each team to try and raise a minimum sponsorship donation of £500 (just £50 sponsorship per player). We will provide each team with a fundraising pack as well as hints and tips on how to raise the money.
Don’t delay, start putting your team together today!  To register your team contact:
Alexa Dizon
Tel: 0333 121 2300
Posted in Fundraising

Workfit Wales: Sophie works at Waitrose

workfit logo

WorkFit Wales: Connecting Employers and Employees with Down’s syndrome (14-25) 

By Simon James, Wales Employment Development Officer

I first met Sophie in early September of 2014. I had been in regular communication with her parents and support workers prior to this as Sophie was working on a temporary contract at her local Waitrose store. The Down’s Syndrome Association’s WorkFit project were eager to get involved as we wanted to support Sophie and Waitrose and potentially convert this temporary contract into a permanent paid position.
Sophie is supported by a local supported living provider. Sophie receives support in her day to day life but is still very independent. Sophie loves making her own meals, planning her days and keeping her home tidy.
After meeting Sophie, I contacted Waitrose and they welcomed the support from WorkFit. I visited the store and provided the team with some Down’s syndrome awareness training focusing on the learning profile of a person with Down’s syndrome. The training also looked at ways in which they could better support Sophie at work.  I gave them techniques to help Sophie to fulfill her potential. The Waitrose team commented that the training was beneficial:
“I wish I had received this training prior to Sophie starting work”.
Since the team training, Sophie has now secured a permanent 5 hour contract and continues to enjoy her role.  Sophie works as a catering assistant in the Waitrose Café where her daily tasks include clearing and cleaning the tables, stacking the dishwasher, making hot and cold drinks, clearing the trays and putting the crockery away. She is a valued member of staff and gets along with her colleagues and enjoys discussing the latest developments in her favourite soaps!
Sophie’s senior support worker says:
“Sophie working at Waitrose has definitely helped with her day to day routine. She is a far more confident and able person”.
Sophie combines her work at Waitrose with a very active social life.  She regularly goes to her local community centre with her friends where she participates in many different activities.  Sophie also enjoys doing her weekly food shopping and engaging in a little retail therapy.
WorkFit Wales supports young people aged 14-25 years with Down’s syndrome to access meaningful work opportunities that can benefit the rest of their lives. We need your local knowledge and your on-going support to help us achieve this. Do you know of inclusive employers?  Do you know employers who currently support people with Down’s syndrome or may have the potential to? We are guessing for every person with Down’s syndrome there is a working parent or relative or friend who could ask at their place of work?
Tell us who the employers are by contacting the WorkFit team on 0333 1212 300 or email us on
For more information visit the WorkFit website
Posted in WorkFit

Giving Blood

Originally posted on Down 2 Earth Magazine Editor's Blog:

Giving blood

I give blood a lot. Here are my tips for when you give blood.

Water_Glass_1024x1024You have to drink lots of fluids throughout the day and eat regular meals.

You can find it out where the venue is on the NHS Give Blood website: You have to book before you go.

Health_info2_1024x1024They will give you a seat, wait until you are called. They give you a leaflet which explains the importance of blood safety and what will happen.

Nurse_1024x1024The nurse brings you a chair and talks to you. You tell them your date of birth and your address. They make sure you drink a pint of water before donation.

They will call your name and help you on the chair. They make sure you are OK, they clean the arm.

Blood_Pressure_1024x1024A blood pressure cuff will be placed on your arm they are friendly people and will keep…

View original 163 more words

Posted in Uncategorized

Children with Down’s syndrome giving blood samples


‘Patience, support and reassurance are key – don’t let them treat your child as if they are being naughty. If you were not sure what was going on and someone tried to stick a needle in your arm, how would you feel?’

Many children dislike having blood taken; children with Down’s syndrome are no different. We hope that some of these tips will make it easier for you and your child when you have to attend an appointment for a blood sample to be taken. Some children will get better as they become used to the process. However, there will be children and adults who are always going to struggle with giving a blood sample.
Preparation – The amount of preparation needed will be different from child to child. Some children may find social stories and/or a photo book helpful. Others may have their fears allayed by a trip to the doctor or hospital prior to blood being taken. Many hospitals will have DVDs explaining what happens when a blood sample is taken. Find out if you can borrow a DVD from your local hospital. For younger children it may help to rehearse what will happen with their favourite doll or teddy bear. You can bring the toy along to your child’s appointment so that they can go through the procedure first. This may provide your child with reassurance.
Positioning – The right position can help your child feel safe and secure, make it easier to distract them (e.g. if they are looking at you rather than at the person about to take blood) and can lessen the likelihood of the person taking blood being struck by a flailing arm or leg.
‘My son doesn’t like being held tight so the person taking the blood sits behind me with him sideways and his arm under mine so it’s more like a big cuddle with them just holding his arm.’
‘My daughter who is 11 had her first blood test last year. I sat on the chair and she sat sideways on my lap. The nurse then put her arm under my arm so her arm was behind my back so she could not see what was happening. She did not move at all and it was all over very quickly. She also just had the cold spray rather than the cream.’
Distractions – Providing a distraction during blood taking may help to reduce a child’s anxiety (e.g. an iPad, favourite toy or game, iPod and headphones, an activity book involving having to find objects, singing).
Location – For many children, an unfamiliar and noisy clinical environment can be overwhelming even if they have had a prior visit. Blood taking does not always have to happen in a clinical environment. Some families arrange for a community nurse to take a blood sample at home or at school.
‘My son’s consultant took his blood last time in his office and he got the sample first time and my son barely moved.’
‘My 8 yr old son has been traumatised over the years by blood tests and being held down etc. So I put a hold on the yearly thyroid test last year but we went recently to the community nurses at the local children’s centre. The environment was much better than going to a hospital and the nurses were great. They froze his arm with a spray but we could have had the cream to put on an hour before.’
Rewards – Rewards can work wonders. Remember to include rewards for getting through the procedure in any social stories, picture books or visual timetables that you use with your child. Heaps of praise during and after blood is taken will help. If in doubt, resort to a bit of bribery. Lots of parents swear by chocolate as a distraction and a reward if the blood taking has gone well.
Who should I ask to take my child’s blood sample? – Although all staff qualified to take blood should be able to manage your child sensitively and calmly, some parents have found that they have had a better experience with particular professionals (e.g. a phlebotomist, a senior nurse or a learning disability nurse)
Medication – Local anaesthetics (e.g. creams such as ‘Emla’ cream) can be used to numb the skin and reduce pain before blood is taken. Ethyl chloride is an alternative to anaesthetic cream; it acts as local pain relief when sprayed onto the skin. It has no anaesthetic properties but rather works as a vapo-coolant. A thin film of liquid is sprayed onto the skin, which makes the skin cold and less sensitive as the liquid evaporates.
Finger Prick Test – It is possible to carry out limited thyroid testing using a few drops of finger prick blood instead of a larger amount from a vein. If this screening method is used it should be repeated every year. Further information about finger prick testing for thyroid can be found in DSA’s booklet about thyroid disorder (hard copy available on request)
‘My daughter has regular thyroid tests. She’s ok about it now but we used to prick her thumb or finger and make a really big deal about counting the drops of blood! She got to where it was almost a competition to see how many drops she could get!!’
Who Can Help? – Your local Community Learning Disability Team can be a good source of advice. Some families arrange for the Community Learning Disability Nurse to visit their child at school to carry out a desensitisation programme. Other parents have found the services of a play worker or play therapist useful. Talk to your local hospital or GP about this. A play worker can visit your child at home and go through the process of giving a blood sample with them.
Can the blood taking be combined with another procedure to make it less stressful? If your child is having an operation, ask the anaesthetist at the pre-op session about the possibility of taking a blood sample whilst your child is anaesthetised.
Tip from a Learning Disability Nurse‘If your child really struggles don’t force them or the problem will get worse. Just leave it and try again another day, sometimes you just have to pick your battles.’
Posted in Health