Endang Nilawati had only one thing on her mind when she enrolled her Down syndrome child in a music school.
“I just want my child to be happy,” she said over the weekend.
Banu Catur Priambodo, 21, is now a famous drummer in Star Band, the group of musicians with Down syndrome that was formed by noted composer Dian HP.
Although children with Down syndrome are uncoordinated and lack focus, that does not mean that they cannot excel in music.
Endang said that many music schools had rejected her son, so she rented a music studio so her son Dodo play the drums as often as he wanted.
The only music school willing to take Endang’s son was Taman Musik Dian Indonesia (TMDI), cofounded by Dian HI. “He [Dodo] is so happy, alive and finds it easy to communicate with others after joining the band. I am so grateful.”
Another parent, Junika Sugiarsih, said that it had been difficult to find a school for her son Irfan that could teach him the basic knowledge he would need to survive as an adult.
“Irfan needs more practical skills, not theories. It’s the simple things that make him happy,” Junika said.
Junika established Insan Anugrah in Cinere, South Jakarta, to teach Down syndrome children life skills such as table manners and how to brush their teeth and to take showers without help.
The parents,members of the Parents of Down Syndrome Children (POTADS) Association in Jakarta, were seen accompanying their children at Bung Karno Stadium in Central Jakarta on Sunday held to commemorate World Down Syndrome Day. The event was filled with singing, dancing and musical performances by Down syndrome children.
Similar events will also be held in other cities and provinces, such as Bali; Bandung, West Java; Medan, North Sumatra; Surabaya, East Java; and Yogyakarta to raise public awareness on Down syndrome and to show that children with it are also members of society.
According to Slamet Sukriyadi, a member of the Indonesian Special Olympics (SOIna) committee, Down syndrome children needed more motor skills lessons to keep them happy.
“Most parents do not understand that keeping their Down syndrome children mostly at home will only worsen the children’s ability in responding to the environment,” he explained.
Down syndrome children who joined in the Olympics, he added, would improve their basic movement coordination and would be encouraged to perform in public.
“We teach them that winning should come second. The main thing is that they can keep themselves dynamic and happy,” he said. (tam)