Down Syndrome Association of the Valley

Down Syndrome Association Expands Programming, Reopens Service Center

BOARDMAN, Ohio – The Down Syndrome of the Valley will soon be offering new programs that will enhance the lives and futures of the people it serves.

DSAV cut the ribbon Wednesday on a $100,000 expansion to its headquarters and service center here.

At 24,000 square feet, the new center is more than double the size of the original location, and will allow DSAV to offer more services to people with Down syndrome in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

“It’s definitely opened up our ability to have more programming and serve more people,” said Michele Jones, co-founder and president of the association.

Wednesday was also a grand reopening of sorts, as the center has been closed since 2020 due to the pandemic. Work on the expansion began in January.

The new space includes a main room for group activities as well as a kitchen where individuals will learn to cook and eat healthy. There is also a group fitness room and a room for one-on-one tutoring.

Jones said the extra space would also allow DSAV to serve its members throughout the entire year without interruption.

“When we needed to prepare for Buddy Walk we needed to shut down programming,” she said. “So we’re excited that we’ll still be able get ready for Buddy Walk and still have programming.”

The DSAV Buddy Walk is a licensed event through the National Down Syndrome Society, and the only one held in the area. This year’s event takes place Sunday, September 18 at Eastwood Field in Niles.

As for new programs, one Jones is particularly excited about is a new improv course taught by the Improvaneers, the world’s first all Down syndrome improvisation troupe, which started in the Cleveland area in 2018.

“They work on voice projection and critical thinking,” Jones said. “You learn conversation skills and that will help with employability, with education. That will help with the future of a person with down syndrome.”

The association is also bringing back several popular programs, including DSAV Coffee, a parent support program, and their programming for children ages zero to five.

Debbie Williams, director of operations for DSAV, said they’re also preparing to once again offer swimming, tennis and yoga. “It’s going to be a hybrid program this year,” she said of the yoga class.

To ensure everyone in their coverage area can take part “we’re going to do one week here at the center and the following week will be via Zoom,” she said.

DSAV is seeking community support to help fund the expansion. Jones said they were able to offset some of the cost through grants.

“We probably have raised $30,000 so we’re still looking to raise and additional $50,000,” she said.

Donors can take part in the 3.21 campaign, in which donors who donate $321 dollars will get their name on the donor wall. The campaign is named for the three copies of the 21st chromosome, which all people with Down syndrome have.

Information on DSAV and a link to donate is available HERE.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.