The week before CDSPG board meetings, I try to call my team of board members and committee chairs to check in on progress and gauge needed support. This week, I spoke to two volunteers who updated me on new projects that provide programming for two audiences we have yet to really focus on: siblings and Baltimore City families.
Laura Feiler, a mom and longtime CDSPG volunteer who most of you know for organizing the group’s welcome socials, has extended her volunteer commitment beyond welcoming new families to launch a brand new Sibling Group.
The Sibling Group will build early network of support for young people who have brothers and sisters with Down syndrome. Siblings can gather together, build friendships and appreciate their important family role. In 2016, the Siblings Program will offer multiple social activities as well as an education workshop led by national sibling experts Dr. Brian Skotko and Susan Levine. You can check out the new sibs Facebook group, just for families with siblings, and be a part of the conversation and also find information on all of CDSPG’s sibling activities and events at www.cdspg.org.
My conversation with Liz Zogby, mom and board member, focused on another underserved population in our community: Baltimore City families. While our group is fortunate to have a number of active city families, we have yet make a concerted effort to reach out to city families who may not have the means or ability to connect to our community in traditional ways. Liz and her committee are working with Enoch Pratt Free Library to plan outreach events at libraries throughout the city to help connect with the more than 900 individuals with Down syndrome and their families living in Baltimore.
All of these new CDSPG initiatives plus our existing programs take resources to make happen.Those resources come in the form of people, time and, of course, money. The board passed a 2016 budget in January that allocates just shy of $82,000 for programming and outreach. This amount makes up 57 percent of the group’s total 2016 working budget. You can read more about the budget at www.cdspg.org.
This is an excited time for our Down syndrome community as we continue to grow our support network and broaden our support programming. All this equals more families who benefit from CDSPG programs and resources, getting us closer to our vision: to promote a happy, healthy, accepting environment which enables independence for people with Down syndrome so that they may reach their potential at all stages of their lives.