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The walk was inaugurated by Shaikh Majid Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture,
"The response is much higher than we expected. We are glad that people are getting more aware and expressing their support towards individuals with Down's Syndrome, "Sonia Al Hashemi, chairperson of the UAE Down Syndrome Association, told Gulf News.
Hundreds of onlookers cheered as the participants, led by a band, walked across the mall.
"By participating in this walk we want to extend our support and also give the message that people with Down's Syndrome are people with special abilities. At our organisation, we have 35 employees with Down's Syndrome and they all work well," said Ebrahim Ali Mohammad Ali, special needs specialist with the Desert Group.
"We closely work with the Down's Syndrome association and also get people with Down's Syndrome for training. It is a part of our corporate social responsibility and we are very passionate about the cause," said Tanya from Traders Hotels.
"Through this walk we aim to raise awareness," said Sonia. The genetic disorder has an impact on mental development but there is a need to recognise the special abilities that those with Down's Syndrome have, she added.
"The region has a high incidence of Down's Syndrome and it is estimated that the genetic disorder affects one in every 450 children. We are noticing a shift in the attitude, increased awareness and higher participation from companies that give employment opportunities to people with Down's Syndrome. However, we need to raise awareness further and bring out the special abilities these children have," she said.
The 800-metre walkathon was the culmination of three days of World Down's Syndrome Day celebrations which started on March 21. This is the seventh year that the World Down's Syndrome Day has been officially marked in the UAE.