Down Syndrome Ohana Offers Family Support

By Candice Young, outreach coordinator, Down Syndrome Ohana of Hawaii

When Harley found out her daughter was born with Down syndrome, there were medical complications, fear of the unknown and mourning the loss of a typical child.


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Candice Young, outreach coordinator, Down Syndrome Ohana of Hawaii

Amid the tears, confusion and questions, a meeting was arranged with some families who also had children with Down syndrome.

“I met three amazing mothers and their children who just embraced us with loving, caring and understanding hearts,” says Harley. “I felt comfort from these complete strangers, who instantly felt like ohana.”

Through Down Syndrome Ohana of Hawaii’s New and Expectant Parent Outreach Program, it has been our honor and privilege to have the opportunity to encourage, listen and share the beauty of the journey and let families know that they are not alone.

In 2010, a group of families was attending a Parent Participation Program called Poli’s Place.

There were six children in the program with Down syndrome.

Powered by a group of four mothers, along with the support of fellow mom and Keiki O Ka Aina executive director Momi Akana, Down Syndrome Ohana of Hawaii (DSOH) was born.

DSOH’s mission is to unite and support families, and provide advocacy and information concerning all aspects of life for individuals with Down syndrome.

DSOH plans monthly gatherings for families and anywhere from 10 to 600 people are served.

Social gatherings help build relationships between children with Down syndrome and their families. Educational workshops on relevant topics also are offered.

Our biggest event is our Buddy Walk Oct. 11 at Kakaako Makai Gateway Park. Teams are formed for this celebration of aloha, with entertainment, raffle prizes, a keiki tent, shave ice, popcorn and cotton candy. This is our only fundraiser, and we rely heavily on donations and volunteers.

Increased financial support would allow us to focus on outreach to new families, provide meaningful programs and produce an outstanding Buddy Walk each year. Monetary donations always are appreciated, as well as donations of goods and services for the Buddy Walk and select programs throughout the year.

For more information, contact DSOH at 366-6706, or visit our website at

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