UP TO 500 people from around the state are expected to flock to Learmonth this weekend to help raise awareness for people living with Down Sydrome, while having some fun at the same time.
Now in it’s sixth year, the Ballarat Down Syndrome Support Group’s annual market provides an opportunity for people living with disabilities and their families to come together in a social environment, equipped with face-painting, horse riding, a jumping castle and a live band.
Event co-organiser Wendy McNabb, whose son James lives with Down Syndrome, said the event had grown substantially over the past six years, with families travelling from as far as Horsham for the annual get-together.
“We’re just aiming to put on a fun day for everyone,” Ms McNabb said. “It’s all about raising awareness for Down Syndrome, but also allowing people to come together with their peers.”
The event to be held at the Anglican Church grounds in Learmonth coincides with the international Down Syndrome Awareness day.
For the second year running, the market has been the recipient of a City of Ballarat community grant, this year receiving $2500 to run the market.
Punters will be entertained by Ballarat band The Funky Turtles, who are a band made up of people living with disability. Down Syndrome dance group Emotion 21 will also entertain the crowds on Saturday at the free event.
Ms McNabb said the performers would provide mainstream society with an idea of what people with disabilities were capable of.
People are invited to come and enjoy the various market stalls at the church grounds, which will be selling local produce, wine and cider. A raffle will also be held, with the first prize winner receiving a bike.
Ms McNabb said it was important that children living with Down Syndrome had the chance to socialise with both disabled and non-disabled children.
“It’s the same as anyone, you need to have friends and social interaction,” Ms McNabb said. “That’s why it’s really important to let these kids come out and make new friends.”
Over 13,000 people in Australia live with Down Syndrome, with 25 per cent of those coming from Victoria.
The Ballarat Down Syndrome Support Group includes around 40 families from the Ballarat region.
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