This month, the Freemasons of Howick presented the UpsideDowns Education Trust with a cheque for $10,500 to support children in the Howick/Pakuranga area with Down syndrome.
UpsideDowns was founded in 2003 by a group of parents of kids with Down syndrome seeking to address the need for funded speech language therapy in New Zealand.
It is well-documented that ‘Speech and language therapy is the most important part of intervention services for children with Down syndrome if we wish to promote their cognitive (mental) and social development’ (Buckley and Le Provost, 2002). However, this essential education is not currently funded for Kiwi children with Down syndrome and is only available through private practitioners. UpsideDowns receives no ongoing government funding, and relies on grants and donation such as this to survive.
UpsideDowns currently supports 124 families across New Zealand to receive this life-changing therapy. Seven of these families are in the Howick area, and will directly benefit from the generosity of the Freemasons Lodge Howick.
By helping fund speech language therapy, Lodge Howick has ensured that these local kids can receive dozens of life-changing sessions, helping them to develop the ability to communicate effectively.
The donation from the Howick Lodge and its Trust means local kids with Down syndrome can unlock their potential through communication.
One of the parents who receives support from UpsideDowns said: ‘Speech means communication and social life. Speech means learning, education, and self-expression.
“With your help, our child has access to regular speech therapy sessions which improve her speech. We are very grateful.’
The $10,500 raised by the local Lodge assisted by The Freemasons Charity will go to the seven families living in the area who are currently supported by UpsideDowns.
“Thanks Lodge Howick. This is a great boost for our children in your area,” said Dr Adam Barker, chairman of Upside Downs Education Trust.
Photo – Daniel Harris (5) with Sarah Paterson-Hamlin, operations manager of UpsideDowns Education Trust and Bro Grahame Hamblin, Almoner of Lodge Howick. Daniel lives in Howick and receives fortnightly speech therapy, and will directly benefit from the Howick Freemasons’ donation.