October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and we’re taking the opportunity to highlight a fantastic organization in the Alabama community. We recently sat down with Sue Tolle, Executive Director of Down Syndrome Alabama, to learn more about the organization’s accomplishments and goals.

What is Down Syndrome Alabama’s primary mission?

“Down Syndrome Alabama [DSA] promotes lifelong Awareness, Acceptance and Advocacy for individuals with Down Syndrome. The DSA community C.A.R.E.S. – providing Connections, Actions, Resources, Education and Support to those with Down syndrome, as well as to families, relatives, friends, neighborhoods, schools, service providers, health care professionals, employers, activities and communities where they reside.”

What are some examples of the ways your organization supports the disability community?

“DSA offers a number of services and resources. We provide information, visitation and a gift bag to new parents who have received a prenatal diagnosis or who have just given birth to a baby with Down syndrome. We also offer meetings and activities for different groups, and host webinars, seminars, workshops and an annual conference.

DSA has a team that visits families or individuals in various hospitals around Birmingham when a loved one with Down syndrome is hospitalized. We also work in conjunction with Grandview - Princeton Hospital Residency programs to offer an Adult Down Syndrome Primary Care Clinic. In this way we offer residents hands-on experience and increased knowledge of patients with Down syndrome, and ensure that those with Down syndrome have access to highly trained physicians.

Through the Education Connection, DSA conducts outreach to educators and school personnel, offering resources, research, and current and collective information. DSA offers all of this, and much more!”

What are some things people might not know about the Down syndrome community?

“One fascinating aspect is the increase in life expectancy of a person with Down syndrome. Before 1980 the life expectancy for an individual with Down Syndrome was approximately 27 years. Today life expectancy is 68 years! Early heart surgery, better health care and more socialization thanks to inclusion in schools and in the community are contributing factors.”

How can others get involved in your initiatives?

“If you meet someone with Down syndrome, tell them about Down Syndrome Alabama!

Join us at any of our events – the Walk & Run in October, World Down Syndrome Day in March, and the Golf Event in June. You can also become a donor - one time or monthly - or a volunteer. For volunteer opportunities, contact us at (205) 988-0810.”

To learn more about DSA, visit downsyndromealabama.org. Want to share your Down syndrome story? Reach out to us on Facebook.