Walk a mile or trek to Mongolia, writes Callum Mackinnon
There are 1,584 families in Scotland caring for an individual with Down’s syndrome who are currently known to Down’s Syndrome Scotland and many more who aren’t.
Five per cent to 90 per cent of Down’s Syndrome Scotland income comes from the support of grants and trusts and fundraising activities completed by people like you.
For this reason, fundraising is vital in allowing Down’s Syndrome Scotland continue its work.
As well as being the lifeblood of our charity, however, fundraising is many things to many people. It can be sociable, inspiring, challenging and, of course, great fun. With supporters of all ages and abilities, Down’s Syndrome Scotland is always keen to look to both ends of this spectrum.
One of our cornerstone events is Race 21 – a fun morning out with friends and family that’s only as rigorous and competitive as you want it to be! Groups of three are linked together by the wrists and walk, jog or run a one-mile course. Following the successful race in Glasgow during March’s Awareness Month, we’re now looking for sign ups from Edinburgh and surrounding areas for the next event in Saughton Park on Sunday 21 June. Plans are already under way to roll out events in Inverness, Aberdeen and Dundee as well later in the year.
Such gentle fare might not be what the thrill seekers out there are looking for however. We have seen everything from marathon runners to skydives as well as firewalks and, believe it or not, a considerable amount of Down’s Syndrome Scotland supporters with our logo tattooed on to their flesh! If this is more your scene, we believe we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to offer. We will be taking a group of just 20 fundraisers on a stunning trek through Mongolia in September 2016.
The inspiration for this adventure does, however, come from an unfortunate aspect of our society. With the word “mongol” being used as derogatory slang for a person with Down’s syndrome, our trip to the Mongolia serves, not just as a remarkable fundraiser, but an important reminder of the upset that a word sadly still causes to this day. It is offensive, not just to people with Down’s syndrome, but to the people of Mongolia and, as long as this word is still used, there is still a lot of work to be doing.
Nobody is more aware of this reality than Uuganaa Ramsay, a Mongol living in Scotland. Uuganaa’s Scottish-Mongolian son Billy was born with Down’s syndrome and sadly passed away at very young age. She went on to write the critically acclaimed and award winning book, Mongol, a celebration of Mongolian culture and how the life and death of a baby boy with Down’s syndrome inspired Uuganaa to campaign against prejudice.
With the story of one of our most dedicated supporters in mind, travelling to Mongolia with a group of keen fundraisers is a great privilege and one we are sure will be an unforgettable experience, with a provisional route that will take in the stunning Yolyn Am ice gorge, the Gobi Desert and Molson Els sand dunes. Trekkers will also spend time with the nomadic tribes from the area which, given their sparse populations, means numbers are limited to just 20. With spaces so limited and no other charities currently offering fundraising treks in Mongolia, this is a unique chance for people to see a part of the world they might not otherwise and, as Down’s Syndrome Scotland is always encouraging, a chance to “learn a little more”.
To be able to experience another culture, all in the name of charity, shows the value fundraising presents to those taking part. It is a chance to try new things, see new places and see just how much you are capable of, both physically and in putting your fundraising skills to the test.
However, whether you walk one mile around Edinburgh’s Saughton Park for Race 21 or 100 miles, the important thing is, it all makes a difference to people with Down’s syndrome and their families in communities across Scotland.
• Callum Mackinnon is communications officer at Down’s Syndrome Scotland www.dsscotland.org.uk
• If you think that you would like to be involved in Race 21 or the Mongolia trek, or if there is another way you would like to support Down’s Syndrome Scotland, please contact Pippa Morrice, fundraising manager on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07915 566503.