A new branch of a Down Syndrome awareness organisation has been officially launched.Gene To Success (Gets) hosted their annual Youth Day celebrations on Thursday 16 June that doubled as the launch of the new branch at the Lobelia Hall in Lentegeur.The event was also attended by the Bonteheuwel branch, guest speakers, Fairouz Naggia-Luddy (an advocate of the High Court and activist for social justice and human rights) and several other dignitaries. “We decided to have an Iftaar event as it was hosted during the month of Ramadan. This day was dedicated to our children with Down Syndrome and other intellectual disabilities,” says Faseega Coetzee, founding member of Gets.Ward councillor Goawa Timm also spoke on the rights of people with special needs. “People with disabilities and special needs must be accepted with dignity and respect within their communities,” she says.Timm went on to explain that the importance of equal rights was the foundation of freedom.Timm encouraged youth to make wiser choices on their future and learn from the youth who fought for justice and freedom in the past. “June 16 commemorates the youth’s struggle against the apartheid regime and its oppressive draconian education laws.“The struggle for our youth continues. When it comes to the integration and inclusion of differently abled children, we find that they are still forced onto the peripheries of society. “The obligations on the state extend to more than just ensuring the integration of our differently abled people who have special needs – they should ensure their inclusion,” Nagia-Luddy says. “As for the youth, our children need discipline and order, but as adults we need to ensure that this is done non-violently and positively. Our society has become more violent; more complex. Our children are left to navigate this – often on their own.“While we as parents struggle to survive and put bread on the table, we are often forced to work long hours. Our children frequently have to come home to empty houses. They are left vulnerable to be prayed in by institutionalised gangs who offer them a sense of belonging, respect and money.”Mymoena Williams, who will be leading Gets Lentegeur, says they are trying to get more special needs children attending Gets events and projects.“I hereby encourage parents with special needs children to please make use of this opportunity to bring your children and make use of our resources. This is one of the reasons we have events of this magnitude,” Williams says.V For more information call Faseega Coetzee on 073 779 3357 or Mymoena Williams at the Lentegeur Branch on 079 304 5757.