Monday, February 18, 2013

Local Down Syndrome Organization Receives Visit from NDSC leader

from The Commercial Appeal:

Young adults with Down syndrome, their parents, service providers and DSAM board members were invited to the home of Keith Greenwald to meet NDSC board president Jim Faber.

DSAM communications manager Kelli Polatty (left), WSE principal Tracie Thomas, MCS NE Regional superintendent Kevin McCarthy, MCS executive director of the Division of Exceptional Children Dr. Patricia Toarmina met NDSC board president Jim Faber.
The Down Syndrome Association of Memphis and the Mid-South welcomed a visit from National Down Syndrome Congress board president Jim Faber in late fall of 2012.

The visit coincided with Down Syndrome Awareness Month and provided opportunities for Faber to meet and visit families, schools and businesses that DSAM partners with to support individuals with Down syndrome.

Faber didn't waste any time during his three-day visit. His many stops included dinner with DSAM board and staff, a visit to White Station Elementary School, a luncheon with DSAM's DADS (Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome) group, a visit to Madonna Learning Center, and his presentation to the Memphis Area Home Builders VESTA opening ceremony, of which DSAM was the selected charity.

"Being a part of the VESTA Home Show opening party and cutting the opening ribbon, meeting with dozens of great folks, and giving a presentation about the limitless possibilities of people with Down syndrome … there was so much Southern hospitality," said Faber, as he reported back to the NDSC affiliate director Sue Joe in Atlanta.

Faber added, "The DADS luncheon where I presented the NDSC Road Show and spent a bit of time talking about jobs for adults with Down syndrome — that went well, and it was their best DADS turnout in awhile."

The visit to White Station Elementary was acknowledged with administration, staff and students at the school participating in a Dress Down for Down Syndrome Day, which resulted in $1,300 being raised and donated to DSAM. The school has several students with Down syndrome, and principal Tracie Thomas was eager to show off the high expectations of all her students. Thomas also made sure that MCS Northeast Region superintendent Kevin McCarthy and Dr. Patricia Toarmina, MCS executive director, Division of Exceptional Children, were in attendance, and had the opportunity to meet with Faber.

During Faber's visit to Madonna Learning Center, he met with students as they participated in math lessons and activities, music class and also learned about the BIG program as students were working on cooking lunch. BIG (Building Independence Group) is a young adult (18 and over) component at Madonna and is designed as a transitional program for its participants, enabling them to learn and further develop independent life, employment and social skills.

Another stop during Faber's visit was to the home of Keith Greenwald, 40, who owns his own home and has Down syndrome. He held an open house and invited DSAM families to join him in welcoming Faber to Memphis.

"It was very exciting to show off the Mid-South community and some of the positive opportunities that people with Down syndrome have in our area," said DSAM communications manager Kelli Polatty.

More than 1,500 individuals with Down syndrome live in the Mid-South. DSAM encourages individuals with Down syndrome and their families to attend the annual NDSC Convention by providing scholarships and stipends. This year's NDSC Convention will be in Denver, July 19-21.

For more information, contact DSAM at 901-547-7588 or go online to

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