New video showcases children's talent and raises awareness of people with down syndrome's vulnerability to Covid

New video showcases children's talent and raises awareness of people with down syndrome's vulnerability to Covid
Down Syndrome Cork has teamed up with University College Cork, Music4Children and singer songwriter Brian Kennedy to release a heart-warming video to coincide with International Friendship Day, which takes place on July 30.

Down Syndrome Cork has released a new music video to raise awareness of how people with Down syndrome can be vulnerable to Covid-19.

The video's participants also use lámh signs, the manual sign system used by children and adults with intellectual disability and communication needs in Ireland.

The video coincides with International Friendship Day, which takes place tomorrow, and was created in collaboration with University College Cork, Music4Children and singer-songwriter Brian Kennedy.

The video stars Brian Kennedy, who performs his song Best Friend, as well as children with Down syndrome performing the song and using lámh signs.

The video was directed by local film director Conor Slattery of Young Offenders fame, and produced by Dr Eva McMullan, Dr Pauline Frizelle (both of University College Cork) and Down Syndrome Cork, with the aim of reminding the public to think of how people with additional needs might be vulnerable during the pandemic.

Eithne Hayes' two daughters, Tara and Ciara, starred in the video. The family live in Cork and they took part in the video because they regularly attend Dr Eva McMullan's Music4Children's music classes. 

"We go every Saturday," Eithne said. "All the children that are in the video attend. The classes were initially just a pilot scheme, but it proved so popular and the kids just loved it.

"Tara is my little girl with Down syndrome so she goes, and Ciara goes along to help out.

"Tara really thrives on music and song, it's a way for her to learn. They just seem to love going there. It's a way of teaching turn-taking, colours, different things. It is interactive learning through singing songs and it gets them up and moving too."

Ms Hayes says it can sometimes be hard to find an activity for children with Down syndrome to do.

She says the lockdown was tough. "Tara goes to St Paul's Special School in Montenotte. She also would have gone to speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy.

"Everything just stopped, it was very abrupt. It was hard to explain [to Tara]. My other two children knew what was going on. The things Tara liked to do, like go to the playground... or go to a coffee shop, we couldn't do anymore. 

"We were just at home all the time. But Tara was lucky that she has siblings to play with, she has another brother, Cillian, he's 10."

Ms Hayes also said it is important to highlight how people with Down syndrome are more vulnerable to Covid-19. "They have done studies recently which show children with Down syndrome often have other underlying conditions.

"Tara was diagnosed with arthritis in January, which is an auto-immune disease. It's considered a vulnerability [in terms of Covid-19], and she started immuno-suppressant therapy too.

"Getting back to school is also vitally important for the social aspect as well."

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