“We took every step we could to prepare for our special angel, but no matter how many books you read or websites you visit, nothing beat the testimonials and advice of people who have walked this journey a few steps ahead of you.”
April Booten knew that having a community of supporters around her would make a huge difference as she stepped into unknown territory. At 12 weeks into pregnancy, her baby was diagnosed with Down syndrome. She was so glad there was already an organization filled with people who were willing to be by her side. “I knew we were joining a wonderful family,” she comments as she remembers the director of the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee (DSAMT) visiting her in the hospital the day her son was born.
DSAMT works to enhance the lives of individuals with Down syndrome. DSAMT provides support, information, and education to everyone who is touched by Down syndrome within the Tennessee area. Like many other parentswho are part of this organization, April believes that the supportive services offered through DSAMT can help her son be an engaged and welcomed member of our community.
When volunteers participate in DSAMT gatherings, they provide more ways for individuals with Down syndrome to interact with peers and be a part of their communities in a meaningful way. From exercise and creative games to cooking, there are all sorts of ways to be involved. Most importantly, volunteers enable the families to become stronger and help connectthem to more resources and support.
Interestingly, those who start volunteering at DSAMT become part of the family and aren’t likely to leave. DSMT volunteers often talk about how they’ve had life-changing experiences after spending time working with people who have Down syndrome.
If you are interested in joining the team and helping out at DSAMT, here are a few upcoming opportunities to volunteer:
iCan Bike camp is a life-changing, five-day camp for kids and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who want to learn to ride a conventional two-wheeled bike independently. Campers each attend a 1.5-hour session each day for five days as they learn to ride on specialized equipment, assisted by trained staff and volunteers. Volunteers will work one-on-one with a biker each day for the week.
> Sign up here.
DSAMT Creative Arts Camp
DSAMT Creative Arts Camp is a week-long creative experience for teens and adults with Down syndrome and other disabilities. Activities include visual arts, music, creative movement, games, and hanging out with friends. This year’s camp will focus on nature and the environment and will include a field trip to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. Volunteers will assist with the campers’ experience.
> Sign up here.
DSAMT Kid’s Camp
DSAMT Kids’ Camp is a new camp for DSAMT, designed and led by two behavior analysts who work with children with disabilities including Down syndrome and have extensive experience and understanding addressing goals in a group environment. Children benefit from small group instruction with one of two behavior analysts, while learning alongside age-appropriate peers. Volunteers will assist with small group activities or record data, all under the direction of the behaviorists.
> Sign up here to help with campers ages 3 to 5.
> Sign up here to help with campers ages 6 to 8.
The Buddy Walk
The Buddy Walk® was developed by the National Down Syndrome Society in 1995 to promote acceptance and awareness of people with Down syndrome.The Nashville Buddy Walk has grown significantly over the past 15 years. Our friends with Down syndrome bring their friends, family, teachers, neighbors, legislators, celebrities, therapists, or anyone to promote the importance of understanding, acceptance, and awareness and celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of those with Down syndrome. Volunteers will help plan and organize the walk in advance, and on event day will distribute t-shirts, work registration, hand out water, direct people to/from staging areas, supervise activities, and more.
> Sign up to help.
> Sign up to be on The Buddy Walk planning committee.