At a recent Coffee in the Park with Councilmember Gary Pollard, I had the opportunity to meet resident Julie Tang who lives here in Foster City with her husband, Ed, and children, Kiersten & Johanna. Julie stood out from the crowd that morning, as she exuded a certain energy and confidence, a spirit of a "champion", and the qualities needed for Julie to form a support group for families who have children with Down syndrome (DS).
Julie's desire to create this group was all because of Johanna, their younger child with Down syndrome, who inspired Julie to create a DS community support group on the peninsula.
I met with Julie & Johanna in my office to get to know each other better and talk about the group. With a leap of faith, the group started right in her living room. It started with 4-5 families and now surprisingly very close to 100 families on the list. Last summer the Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area (the only non-profit in the Bay Area serving families and their children with DS since 1998) brought Julie on board to help them expand and build more services on the peninsula. Before all of this, there weren't any services or programs specifically for people with DS. Now, they have music therapy classes, monthly support group meetings, parent workshops, educator workshops, art workshops, Mom's Day Out events, fundraising events, holiday parties, and peer development classes coming soon in September on the peninsula!
As Julie graciously shared with me:
"We could not have done this without amazing families coming together as a team, heart-centered support from businesses, organizations, and local government of Foster City, and of course, the Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area for providing the DS community on the peninsula this incredible opportunity of working together and making us a part of the DSCBA so that we can be supported in our efforts as we continue to grow. This was how DSCBA-peninsula was born." - Julie
As they are heading into their 2 year anniversary of their DS community on the peninsula, they are planning a huge party celebrating this special time on Sunday, July 9 from 12-3pm at Maddux Park in Redwood City. It's a time for families to connect and rejoice what they have already created as a community and feeling hopeful of what's ahead of them.