HB launches Ice Cream Sunday in support of Down Syndrome Ireland

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HB launches Ice Cream Sunday in support of Down Syndrome Ireland

Actor Mark Smith who is an ambassador for HB Ice Cream Sunday in support of Down Syndrome Ireland

HB Ice Cream Sunday will take place on Sunday, September 20, with HB alongside Down Syndrome Ireland encouraging you to join in the sweet, treat fun with family, friends or housemates and support the DSI See & Learn programme.

You can do your part for DSI by purchasing your favourite HB multipack; with €0.10 from every pack purchased going to DSI’s See and Learn programme raising vital much needed funds.

For the past 18 years, HB has partnered with DSI for the campaign which has seen thousands across Ireland host ice cream parties at home, in their offices and in schools, raising over €3.7 million, making a life-changing difference to those with Down syndrome as well as their families. This year’s fundraiser is a new twist on a what has become a yearly tradition for so many.

Actor Mark Smith will be joining the fun this HB Ice Cream Sunday and is encouraging vital donations to the programme. Mark, who has Down syndrome, is showing his support in order to help children with Down syndrome receive the educational resources they need.

Funds raised will go directly to a language development programme to help young children with Down syndrome who have been severely affected by lack of educational resources during Covid-19. Learning to talk is a particular challenge for most children with Down syndrome. Difficulties communicating present obstacles in daily life and can be a major source of frustration. See and Learn is an international programme designed to meet the specific learning needs of children with Down syndrome, providing support to improve their speech, language, reading and numeracy skills; and it was made available by DSI in 2019 for parents, teachers and those looking after children with Down syndrome as a result of the funds raised through the partnership with HB. 

Talking about the importance of programmes like See and Learn, Mark Smith said “I am proof of how important it is to have this early help. I was helped greatly when I started school and it has led me to become an actor - my dream job.  By joining in on the fun on September 20, you could be helping other kids to reach their full potential."

Olive Buckeridge, Early Years Specialist with Down Syndrome Ireland has been leading the See and Learn programme. Commenting on the project, Olive said, “In September of 2019 we began a national rollout of the See and Learn programme and the response from parents and teachers was fantastic. We held 25 seminars across Ireland, meeting over 1,600 people. See and Learn is a visually focused programme which works extremely well to help children with Down syndrome to develop their communication skills. It has already had such a positive impact on the children and their families. The programme works so well with teachers and parents collectively, and really is a shared venture. Consistency and repetition for children with Down syndrome is key and the See and Learn programme facilitates this.”

Due to the pandemic, most of the children on the See and Learn programme have seen their supports majorly curtailed, and funding for this key service has been severely impacted.

Olive continued, “COVID-19 has been very difficult for children with Down syndrome as they haven’t been able to visit their speech and language therapists or receive one to one support. The See and Learn programme has been instrumental in helping parents to continue their child’s progression during COVID-19. We are continuing to provide support and have been speaking with parents daily through Zoom. Our next step is to roll out phase two of the programme this Autumn, and funds raised from the new HB Ice Cream Sunday will enable teachers and parents to be supported as they implement this programme.”

Paula Dunne from Mayo has seen first-hand the benefits that See and Learn can bring. Her son Coinneach, who is six years old, has Down syndrome. Commenting on the programme, Paula said, "To say that the See and Learn results have amazed Coinneach’s school, family and friends; it would be nothing less than an understatement. I will never forget Coinneach's teacher approaching me four weeks in, expressing huge surprise and excitement at how my son's progress with speech exploded; how well he was able to follow the programme and show progression within such a short period of time. From there, Coinneach came on in leaps and bounds. He makes real genuine efforts to say new words on an hourly basis and the clarity of his speech has greatly improved. Without See and Learn I genuinely fear that Coinneach would have plateaued on his speech development because he was missing out on proper intervention which is essential at his stage in life." 

Elaine Prendergast, Brand Manager, Unilever Ireland added “With everyone participating in social distancing and playing their part we really hope that people will enjoy ice creams with close family members or housemates on 20th September while staying at home. By doing so, you’ll be supporting Down Syndrome Ireland’s See and Learn programme which is already proving invaluable for children with Down syndrome.”

To join in on DSI’s HB Ice Cream Sunday on 20th September, simply purchase your favourite HB multipack from your local participating supermarket or shop, and €0.10 will go directly to funding the See and Learn programme. People are encouraged to share photos of them enjoying their ice creams on social media using #HBIceCreamSunday.

You can also support DSI’s See and Learn programme by making a donation at www.downsyndrome.ie/donate/

If you would like to find out more about Down Syndrome Ireland visit www.downsyndrome.ie