Monday, January 25, 2010

Indonesian with Down syndrome becomes a trail blazer on golf course

From the Jakarta Globe in Indonesia:

The Indonesian Museum of Records said on Jan. 24 that the award given to a young Jakarta resident as the only registered golfer in Asia living with Down syndrome was an effort to erase discrimination against people living with the condition.

“Michael has inspired many people. He’s living with Down syndrome but managed to score many achievements,” said museum founder Jaya Suprana, refering to 20-year-old Michael Rosihan Yacub (pictured), who received the award on Jan. 24.

Aryanti Yacub, Michael’s mother and the chairwoman of the Indonesian Down Syndrome Association (ISDI), said there were many misconceptions about Down syndrome due to poor public awareness of the condition.

“People need to know that children living with Down syndrome are not idiots or imbeciles. They have potential, and can learn,” she said.

Aryanti said a doctor diagnosed Michael with Down syndrome early in his life and declared that his IQ was only 35. However, at the age of 2, Michael started to show his interest in sport activities especially golf.

“His father and his siblings are all golf lovers, so he was excited to try it,” she said. At a charity golf event in Singapore in 2006, he finished fifth among 140 entrants.

Aryanti said she hoped the award would help spread awareness that people with the condition could lead full lives. In 2001, the Health Ministry reported that there were more than 300,000 Indonesians living with Down syndrome, about 15 percent of all patients worldwide.

Television presenter and Down syndrome advocate Soraya Haque said many Indonesians still believed children were born with the condition because their parents did something wrong.

“They think having children with Down syndrome has to do with the parent’s past,” she said, adding that the cause remained a mystery to doctors.