In 1979, a group of families with a child with Down syndrome came together to share experiences and support the development of their children, bringing about the Trisomia 21 APS Association, which over 40 years later continues to offer many activities and services from their current premises in viale Volta.
Providing both health-related and non-health-related services for those with Down syndrome and other similar intellectual disabilities, the association works towards self-sufficiency where possible, inaugurating a flat adjacent to their headquarters in 2014 intended for independent living experimentation activities for young people and adults.
Speaking with Cristiano Bencini, president of Trisomia 21, ahead of National Down Syndrome Day on October 8, we learned more about the non-profit organization.
“We support people with Down syndrome and their families, starting during pregnancy and continuing through their lifetime. It’s not just given in a moment of need and then withdrawn…The first years of life require linguistic and physical intervention, with a lot of health-related support. We assist them through school, adolescence and experience in the workplace, working towards as much independence as possible for each individual. We have people working for companies in everything from fashion to high-tech. One of our operators accompanies them through their training, working alongside them until they are able to carry out the work independently.”
Trisomia 21 has an agreement with local health services, while for others, they rely on fundraising campaigns, donations and grants. Early intervention offers a series of benefits, and so the association arranges speech therapy and works on neuropsychomotor skills in the very first years. “Early and continuous treatment is essential for development and for the achievement of the maximum possible autonomy. Our children teach us patience and tenacity, with which they can achieve many goals, supported by family, school, society, and professionals”.
Young artists get an outlet through PIC EO, a project that brings members’ ideas to fruition, with their creations then being displayed and given in exchange for donations at markets and fairs, such as the recently held Artigianato e Palazzo in the Corsini Gardens. “PIC EO, in Italian, stands for passion, commitment, creativity, emotions, and originality, words that were chosen by the participants in the workshop to describe their unique and authentic work. The workshop offers the opportunity to acquire artistic and professional experience and skills. Through their works, they are ambassadors for the message of inclusion that the association carries forward every day”.
Reaching over 125 members, the community created around the association’s activities is an aspect that equally offers benefit, with parents, professionals and volunteers coming together towards the shared goal of social inclusion, not just in Florence, but also in Sardinia, Le Marche, Lombardy and Emilia Romagna. To mark National Down Syndrome Day on October 8, members of the association can be found in various Unicoop stores on Saturday, October 7, where you can receive Fairtrade chocolate in exchange for a donation. If you are unable to visit a store, the bars can be picked up at viale Volta 16-18 by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.