We have a lot in common with some friends in Austin who care a great deal about cognition research. They have hosted Research 101 events for their members and have consistently contributed funding for research since 2012 from their Buddy Walk — over $99,000 in 5 years! So we recently asked their executive director, Cameron LaHaise, “What else do you do?” And I learned that the Down syndrome community in central Texas and LuMind RDS are very lucky to have them. You’ll see why.
What else do you do?
Cameron took a deep breath and said…We offer a variety of recreational programs and services. For the recreational programs, we offer these seasonally at an extremely discounted rate. The programs may change, but they typically include activities like karate, a dance class, and performing arts. Annually, we offer camps through local or national partnerships like a kayak camp or bike camp.
We offer social programs for our members to meet each other, make friends, support each other. These are divided by age group and many of our members grow up with lifelong friends established through these groups. We host a Spring Cocktail Party!
In 2015 we started a low cost, high-intensity Speech Therapy Program in partnership with Speak Freely. In addition to programs and services, DSACT is an advocacy group and in 2015, we also worked on the Down Syndrome Information Act.
Wow! How long has DSACT been around?
DSACT was founded in 1991. This is our 25th year! The Eudy Family helped to establish DSACT back in 1991. They have a daughter with Down syndrome who is now in her late 20’s. Their son, Marshall Eudy is currently on the DSACT Board.
How many people do you provide these services for?
We serve thousands of members, but for us, a member is [not only] the individual with Down syndrome, also their family members, educators, and medical professionals.
How do you fund all of these activities? Do you charge a membership fee?
Membership to DSACT is free. We support these programs through donations, event sponsorship, and grants. We have many events throughout the year. Our Buddy Walk has over 3,000 attendees and is our largest community event. We also participate as one of the official charities Austin Gives Miles Program through the Austin Marathon.
So why did you care to donate to LuMind RDS in addition to these other services?
DSACT believes in supporting individuals with Down syndrome (and their family) to achieve their own personal goals. For many, this means post-secondary education opportunities, a career, and living independently. Cognition research can help individuals to achieve these goals, perhaps surpass them, and live a more independent and fulfilling life.
The DSACT vision is a world in which all members, including those with Down syndrome, are accepted, valued for their uniqueness, respected for their abilities and contributions, and assured the opportunity and choice to create their own path to fulfillment and success.