KARACHI-Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah inaugurated the second state-of-the-art custom-built learning centre for children with Down syndrome as part of the Karachi Down Syndrome Programme (KDSP).

Speaking at the ceremony, the chief minister said that making Pakistan an inclusive society where people with all kinds of different abilities were accepted, included, and given equal opportunities to live fulfilling and independent lives was the responsibility and vision of his government. Accompanied by his special assistants Syed Qasim Naveed and Sadiq Memon, CM Shah said that earlier, he was only aware of this great cause, but now has seen it.

“I was given a very detailed and well-planned tour by their wonderful board just now, and can see how much effort and love have been invested in this cause and space,” he said.

The CM said that over the past eight years, KDSP’s progress had been tremendous.

“Over 1,568 families are benefiting from this one-stop solution,” he said and added it was a rare sight to see so many wonderful families under one roof receiving holistic/all kinds of services essential for the development of their child with Down syndrome.

Mr Shah said that it was a unique concept that was not seen anywhere else.

“With such high quality and depth of services, I am very hopeful about the inclusion of an estimated population of 300,000 individuals with Down syndrome in Pakistan,” he said.

He added that he was happy to see that KDSP was expanding to meet the increasing needs of the Down syndrome community and leading the way for their inclusion in the fields of early intervention therapies, healthcare, education, skills development, family support, and awareness. Mr Shah said that making Pakistan an inclusive society was a responsibility and vision of the Sindh government. “We work through our own initiatives as well as initiatives of multiple non-profit organisations in making this dream a reality,” he said.

The CM assured that he would keep supporting the KDSP team and hoped that this cause would grow leaps and bounds, and vowed: “Together, we will ensure mainstreaming of these wonderful individuals with Down syndrome.” He added that KDSP was working in early childhood intervention (physical, occupational, and speech therapies), healthcare, education, enrichment and skills development, family support, and awareness.

Speaking on the occasion, CM’S Special Assistant on Empowerment of differently-abled persons Sadiq Memon said that it was a great service to bring differently-abled children into the mainstream through extensive training, education, and therapies.

He added that the provincial government, under the leadership of the chief minister, was giving special attention to the institutions working for them.

KDSP director Ali Allawalla said that with increasing awareness and registrations from both Karachi and other cities, wait lists for services also started increasing. “Therefore, the KDSP has developed the KDSP learning centre, which houses the education and enrichment and skills development programmes.” Earlier, Mr Shah was given a very detailed and well-planned tour of the KDSP institute located in PECHS.