Down Syndrome Queensland (DSQ) offer social programs to more than 160 individuals with Down syndrome to actively develop their communication, social skills, independence and friendships – so what happens when these programs, normally centered around an activity in a public place, are no longer allowed to meet due to COVID-19 social distancing rules?
The team responded promptly to the restrictions of COVID-19 and successfully transitioned their social programs; including DSQ Club (adults) and DSQ Teens (teenagers) to online platforms.
Social Programs Manager Andrew Dower said, “Our response was swift, with a new model of delivery and calendar of events available to our members earlier than if the existing planned events had progressed. Not only did we replace existing events, but we were able to increase the number of events and activities providing more frequent opportunities for both existing and new members to join in.”
DSQ considered what aspects of social skills could be practiced in an online environment, what activities would facilitate those skills best, cost, time, and available technology to create a program that met a range of individual needs.
Mr Dower added, “What we have learned from our response is that we underestimated the digital capacity of our members and their willingness to engage with DSQ and each other through online platforms. We were also super excited to see new friendships start to develop between members who have never met in person.”
The highlight of the transition to online events and activities has been the interest from new people from all over Queensland. People who have not been able to participate in group activities in the past are now able to join in remotely and participate in the same way as everyone else.
Events already conducted during April included, a virtual photo challenge highlighting social skills, Netflix Group Watch Parties and Zoom Charades, Trivia, and Karaoke events. More frequent and new activities for May and beyond are also being planned, including a regular, informal Lunch Club.
These new DSQ Social Programs are quickly becoming less of a temporary replacement and more of a new permanent fixture in the organisation’s calendar of events.
For more information on how to get involved please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
– ENDS –
Notes to Editor:
We are able to arrange phone interviews with individual DSQ families – some current feedback includes:
- “My daughter joined DSQ Teens Charade and she enjoyed it so much. She did not know anyone but Andrew guided through everyone very well and it was very appropriate and fun social activity.” Akemi – Sunshine Coast
- “Elizabeth loved it – thanks for arranging DSQ” – Tracie – Gold Coast
- “It was very good!” – Harry – Brisbane
- “I have made so many new friends” – Sonya – Cairns
Down Syndrome Queensland is a not-for-profit organisation serving all of Queensland, with regional representatives located across the state, providing practical and emotional support to people with Down syndrome and their families.