UAB Students Dance 4 Down Syndrome

Dance 4 Downs 053rd annual Dance 4 DownsStudents from the UAB School of Health Professions Respiratory Therapy and Genetic Counseling programs teamed up with Samford University and Down Syndrome Alabama to deliver the 3rd annual “Dance 4 Downs” fundraising event. Nearly 450 people joined members of the Birmingham special needs community to dance the night away on Saturday, April 3, 2014. The annual event supports the UAB Adult Down Syndrome Clinic and Down Syndrome Alabama.

This is the first year that UAB students have assisted with the event.

“It is a learning experience for both programs,” explains Amy Atkinson, a first-year student in UAB’s Respiratory Therapy program. “Down syndrome is a genetic issue, and children with Down syndrome are at an increased risk for a wide range of medical problems, from respiratory-related issues to gastrointestinal disorders. This dance is helping college students interact with individuals with special needs, individuals that could one day be patients of ours.”

“As health professionals, we hope that our interactions with our patients reach beyond the exam room and into positively impacting their daily lives.”
The luau-themed event, founded three years ago by Samford student Lindy Williamson, raised over $6,000 for the UAB Adult Down Syndrome Clinic. The clinic, one of only a few of its kind in the nation, strives to help individuals with Down syndrome achieve optimal health and well-being, promoting lives that are as productive and independent as possible.

“’Dance 4 Downs’ is about giving people in the community, university students, and those with special needs, a chance to interact and have fun,” says Crescenda Williams, a first-year student in UAB’s Genetic Counseling program. “By contributing funds toward the UAB Adult Down Syndrome Clinic, we’re removing financial barriers that might keep some people from receiving the services and support the clinic has to offer.”

Down syndrome is the most common of all genetic conditions associated with developmental delay. The condition occurs in approximately one in every 800 live births and can cause challenges in physical, intellectual, and language development.

Dance 4 Downs 06“‘Dance 4 Downs’ is breaking down barriers between students, the Birmingham community, and special needs individuals,” Atkinson remarks. “It’s a learning experience, a way for us to grow.”

Williams agrees. “I think that it’s very important for health professionals to play an active role in understanding the patient perspective of life. As health professionals, we hope that our interactions with our patients reach beyond the exam room and into positively impacting their daily lives. Being able to construct a strong sense of community around those with special needs of any kind is a passion that has brought many into the health professional field in the first place.”

The Respiratory Therapy and Genetic Counseling programs are located in the Department of Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences.