Hemas Outreach Foundation, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm of the Hemas Group together with AYATI National Centre for Children with Disabilities marked International Day of Down Syndrome on March 16 at the Ayati Centre in Ragama. Held with the goal of raising awareness about their social movement ‘එක සේ සලකමු (Treat All Alike)’ the event also launched a new song that lends a voice to Down Syndrome children. ‘එක සේ සලකමු’ is aimed at empowering children and families with Down Syndrome by providing a forum to acknowledge their rights and advocate inclusion in today’s society.
“The social movement ‘එක සේ සලකමු’ was created to raise awareness for Down Syndrome children, who are often overlooked in society. We as Hemas believe in an inclusive society where no child is left behind and our initiatives at Hemas Outreach Foundation focuses on achieving this goal. It is estimated that approximately 20% of children in Sri Lanka have some form of a disability. The Ayati Trust Sri Lanka seeks to create an inclusive society to prevent persons with disabilities from facing prejudice and a lack of access to specialised services. As we mark the World Down Syndrome Day, it is critical that we all work together to break the stigma. As a company that promotes ‘healthful living,’ we look forward to making the world a more inclusive place by creating a platform for families to air their concerns and receive much-needed community support. These children have special talents that needs to be recognized. We have to celebrate them and treat them as equals”, stated Shiromi Masakorala, Executive Director, AYATI Trust Sri Lanka and Hemas Outreach Foundation.
The ceremony was graced with the presence of many special guests standing together in support of creating an inclusive world. Past Global President of Rotary International K. Ravindran attended the event as Chief Guest of the event. Further English, Sinhala and Tamil instructional pamphlets on Down Syndrome were handed over to the Director of Social Services, Chandana Ranaweera Arachchi, which is to be distributed to the 331 Divisional Secretariats in the country.
“From all the facilities I have seen around world, AYATI ranks as one of the best. Hemas is living true to the tagline ‘business goes beyond profits.’ It is also important that we celebrate the carers; each circumstance has its own group of heroes who we should recognize. The need to integrate children into society is vital, integrating children into the mainstream enhances everyone’s learning. It fosters a giving atmosphere; expectations increase on both sides – to rise to difficulties, and the other children also rise to become more compassionate” added the Chief Guest of the occasion, the Past Global President of Rotary International, K. Ravindran.
Hemas Holdings PLC is aiming to create a world that encourages a society that ‘leaves no child behind’ while promoting ‘healthful living, because we believe every family deserves a better tomorrow’ This fundamental objective will inform the cause and aid in the eradication of the stigma they experience daily. The new song launched on the day by Amila Jayaswarna focuses on treating children with Down Syndrome with love and respect.
Roshan Mahanama, Brand Ambassador for Hemas Outreach Foundation and Trustee of Ayati Trust Sri Lanka had this to say at the event: “As a society we must treat everyone equally. Parents must engage and include their children in all activities. I feel the Ministry of Education should do more to foster an inclusive atmosphere. We need to show these children greater love and kindness and play a part in making the communities see the special talent they have.”
Join the Social Movement of the Hemas Outreach Foundation to educate the public and eradicate the stigma attached to children with Down Syndrome: http://web.facebook.com/ekasesalakamu