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Down's Syndrome kids get fired up
YOUNG people with Down’s Syndrome were given a once in a lifetime opportunity as they learnt life-saving techniques from firefighters.
The group of 11 young people aged from 12 to 22, from the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group, spent the week at Drove Road fire station to experience a basic fire and rescue training course.
The Salamander project encourages participants to work as a team while building up confidence and self-esteem.
Among the skills the youngsters learnt were firefighting, skills with hoses, ladder climbing, search and rescue, casualty care, traffic collision rescue skills and water rescue.
And tomorrow, members of the group will put on a display of their new-found skills for family, friends, senior fire officers and the mayor and mayoress.
Watch manager Mark Evans said the course, which is in its second year, has been a huge success.
“For me it is a very rewarding course,” he said.
“I was always very naive about Down’s Syndrome, for me it was always Down’s Syndrome people, but now I see it as young people with Down’s, because the fact that they are young people is what is most important.
“We held our first course last October and it was incredibly successful. We all knew straightaway that we wanted to do another week as soon as possible.”
Nicky Parker, the chairman of the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group, whose two sons Luke, 20, and Zachary, 15, took part in the course, said: “I don’t think there are any parts of the course that they don’t find challenging, it’s a challenge for some of them to even climb a ladder.
“It really builds their self-confidence. Some of them took part back in October and they have really surprised themselves with how much their confidence has grown.
“They are all so encouraging and it is great that they are able to suss out who it is that needs that bit of extra support and they’ll really cheer each other on.
“They go home each night absolutely shattered, but because they don’t have a very good short-term memory, they aren’t able to tell their parents exactly what they have been doing other than having a brilliant time, so it is great for their mums and dads to come in on Friday and see the show.”
Fifteen-year-old Michael Lavin, who took part in the course, said: “I’ve really enjoyed myself, I liked the pole the best.”
Oliver Messenger, 13, said: “My best bit was when we got to go round the yard in the fire engine with all the lights and sirens going.
“And I liked the pole and squirting the hoses.”
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