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SMILE aims to eliminate barriers for children with disabilities

(May 29, 2011) – “We need to unwrap the gifts of individual differences,” Dr. Ashleigh Molloy, President of the Down Syndrome Association of Toronto, told the 3rd Annual SMILE Fundraiser held last Friday evening in Mississauga.

SMILE is a support network, based in Pell Region in the Greater Toronto Area, for Muslim children with disabilities and their families.

Dr Molloy told the audience that people with disabilities are seen as deficits instead of assets to the community.

He commended SMILE for being an enabler of change in the community.

“You can’t change anything until you bring people along with you,” said Dr. Molloy in his interactive presentation.

SMILE is run by volunteers who meet with families and children to conduct a thorough needs assessment and maintains an on-going relationship with families to ensure that the evolving needs of their children are being met within the safety and security of the SMILE support system.

“SMILE develops community based awareness of the limitations faced by children with disabilities and is focused on eliminating barriers,” said Sukaina Dada, President of SMILE.

“We hope with your support can bridge some gaps,” she said.

SMILE aims to manage a network of resource based linkages to connect families with support and secure sources of sustainable funding to develop long-term support programs.

Earlier in the evening, Waris Malik, Chair of Special Olympic Toronto – Community Council, spoke of the work of the group.

He said that what sets Special Olympics competitions apart is that athletes of all ability levels are encouraged to participate and every athlete is recognized for his or her performance.

“All we ask from athletes is to try their best,” Malik said.

He repeated the inspiring Special Olympics motto, “Let me Win, But if I cannot Win, Let me be Brave in the Attempt.”

SMILE hosts six events per year.

Each event is full of fun activities, food and prizes.

While the kids are having fun, experienced volunteers conduct educational workshops for parents and caregivers.

To find out more about SMILE, please visit their website at: http://www.smilecan.org

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