Stroll, walk or run 30k in 30 days for charity

For more than a decade now, a church gate collection throughout the county during September has been Down Syndrome Mayo's main fundraising activity.

It was always a great success as people went out in all types of weather to offer their time to help in the fundraising effort, with the money raised used to support families in Mayo.

This year, however, the church gate collection cannot be held due to new guidelines introduced in the bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.

So what now? “Instead, we are asking the public if they would take part in our Stroll, Walk, Run 30km in the 30 days of September instead and donate any amount they can to our iDonate page,” said Nichola Gilmartin, office administration with Down Syndrome Ireland – Mayo Branch.

The fundraising event starts on Tuesday next, September 1, and continues for the month's 30 days.

“As we are now in uncertain times,” added Nicholas, “it is crucial that we move as many of our services and activities online to have some normality and to keep our members as independent as possible throughout these unusual months or years ahead.

“Some of our members have been cocooning as they have underlying health conditions and parents, guardians and families need to be extra careful. Services such as speech therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, personal assistants (people that help assist our members to go to camps and social activities to enable independence) and other services have been reduced or cut due to Covid-19.”

Some of the services that have been provided to adult members and their families by Down Syndrome Mayo prior to Covid-19 – which they hope to move online – include the following: cookery classes, drama and theatre productions, keep fit, drumming, social events such as summer and Christmas parties, support to families, support/access to a counsellor, subsidised therapies and education.

For the under 18 group the following services were being provided: drama therapy, swimming, cycling, toddler group, music therapy, art and movement class, subsidised therapies, and summer and Christmas parties.

In addition, family support has been provided in education through Lamh (sign language used to help children that are non verbal to communicate) for parents/guardians, SNAs and teachers; the See and Learn Programme, which is an introduction to reading for children with Down Syndrome; and Numicon, which is used to teach mathematics in a visual capacity.

Parent Link is an intiative whereby trained parents support families with newborns babies in Co. Mayo, while seminars are run that include online advice and information from facilitators for babies, children, teens, adults and their families.

Nichola and Down Syndrome Mayo are asking members of the public to support the charity in any small way they can. “Every little helps and is greatly appreciated.”

People are also being encouraged to send in photographs taking part in the walk with friends, families or colleagues (while observing social distancing), which can be shared throughout September on Down Syndrome Mayo's social media channels.

All money raised in Mayo is used for activities, education and support for members, and their families, throughout the county. Donations can be made online through Contact Nichola on (083) 3184075 for assistance or more information on how to take part. See also the Mayo Down Syndrome pages on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.