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World Down syndrome Day • March 21

Meet Veronica from Ukraine

Down syndrome is the most frequently occurring chromosomal disorder and the leading cause of intellectual and developmental delay in the U.S. and in the world (Global Down syndrome Foundation).

According to the World Health Organization, the estimated incidence of Down syndrome is between 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 1,100 live births worldwide.

In more developed nations where prenatal screening and genetic counseling are widely accessible, the number of babies born with Down syndrome is on the decline. Why? Because access to early screening means that women are given the option to abort their baby when they discover that the baby is likely to be born with a disability, such as Down syndrome. In Iceland, Down syndrome has been nearly eradicated as the vast majority of women (close to 100%) terminate their pregnancy after finding out that their baby will have the disorder (World Forgotten Children Foundation).

In lesser developed nations where access to prenatal care and screening is less accessible, the risk of abandonment of infants and children with Down syndrome is high. Children with disabilities in developing countries tend to be the most stigmatized population and some countries will shun them completely. There is less access to research and proper information, leading to a lack of education and misconceptions about various disabilities.

Many parents and families fear being stigmatized for having a child with a disability and often lack the resources they need to care for them. Even in the United States, where proper education is easily accessible and people with Down syndrome have been widely integrated into society, babies with Down syndrome are still commonly viewed as a burden and parents will often hear phrases like “I’m so sorry” when they’re told their baby will likely have the disorder. We celebrate the lives of children and adults with Down syndrome and recognize the beauty they add to our world. We’d like to introduce you to a young girl named Veronica.

Veronica is a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome who lives in Ukraine with her family and has been a part of Future for Children for nearly three years. She is an only child and on recommendation of the city of Lviv, the family reached out to Future for Children for assistance. Veronica’s mother is courageous and full of love for her daughter, providing constant care and support. Veronica is not bound to a wheelchair, primarily because for the first few months of Veronica’s life, her mother would regularly take her for massages. She now walks on her own.

Veronica’s father is the sole breadwinner for the family, as her mother’s full-time job is loving and caring for her daughter. The Panchyshyn family lives in a very small room in the same building as the factory where Veronica’s father works. Their toilet, shower and kitchen are shared between 12 families and are in constant need of repair. When the family started coming to Future for Children in 2018, Veronica was able to attend classes with a speech therapist where she quickly began learning how to speak simple words and phrases. She regularly participates in trainings with the younger group of children, which has helped her to socialize and learn how to interact with other kids.

Veronica recently underwent two successful surgeries on her ears; surgeries which were necessary to prevent infection in her brain. Praise God that He provided the necessary means for the operations. Veronica is full of life, always smiling and brings joy to everyone around her.

The Panchyshyn family is strong and rather than regularly asking for help, Veronica’s mother is always looking for ways to serve Future for Children. We’re encouraged by her courage and love for her family and we are thankful that Veronica is a part of the Future for Children ministry. She is full of life, always smiling and brings joy to everyone around her.

Watch this short video below to see more pictures and video clips of Veronica's life:

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