On World Down Syndrome Day 2024, we support the theme ‘end the stereotypes’. At Gellibrand, it’s been our joy and privilege in more than 40 years in the disability sector to support many people with Down syndrome.

Currently, Sammy Sammartino, who lives a full and connected life in one of our group homes, is the only client we’re supporting with Down syndrome. Sammy has been with us for many years, coming to Gellibrand from the former Kew Cottages.

In an era when people with Down syndrome are no longer institutionalised, life expectancy has jumped in the past half century from 25 to 60 years. Sammy makes the most of every minute, let alone every year.

When supporting Sammy – or anyone who with disability – Gellibrand asks what an individual needs as a person, not as someone with Down syndrome or any other disability. That means their support needs are tailored to them, not to the traditional needs that a disability might say they require.

Down syndrome is the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability and it makes up 15% of Australian people with intellectual disability. But, with Gellibrand’s support, it doesn’t stop Sammy from engaging in the activities that he loves and that are meaningful to him.

Sammy is an active participant in our Meaningful Activities in Partnership (MAP) program and, as Service Manager Teigan Mateos says, he’s always eager to get involved in new adventures.

“From thrilling outdoor expeditions to creative workshops and skill-building activities, Sammy and his friends embrace it all with unwavering enthusiasm,” Teigan says, adding that each adventure becomes a chance for Sammy to discover new things about himself and the world around him.

“Sammy’s world expands in delightful ways,” she says. “He finds joy in exploring new terrains, whether hiking through picturesque trails or discovering hidden gems in the city.”

Gellibrand acknowledges World Down Syndrome Day 2024 and we look forward to supporting Sammy – and all our clients – to continue to achieve the outcomes they want as valued community members.