|Sami Altunel (Season 04 - Episode 18)|
A New Door From Izmir Into A Different World
Sabanci Foundation Turkey’s Changemakers Program continues to share the unique stories of extraordinary people who contribute to the social development. This week’s Changemaker is Sami Altunel who, after having a child with down syndrome, implemented the “Welcome Baby” project and founded the National Down Syndrome Association to reach more families having children with down syndrome.
Electronics engineer Sami Altunel has two sons, one of whom has down syndrome. In those days, the family had neither any support, nor the necessary information. As a result, Sami Altunel set off to reach and help other families overcome the same process.
In 2006, Sami Altunel started to implement the “Welcome Baby” project in order to give one-to-one trainings to families having children with down syndrome. In the project, these families are informed about this tough and unknown process and encouraged to accept the situation. By making home visits, experts and people having the same experience give trainings to the families and inform them about the process ahead of them.
The members of National Down Syndrome Association believe that it is necessary for the families to accept their children in order to integrate them into the society. The project is implemented under the supervision of doctors, and the members reach and invite the families to the trainings, but they also include other people to the training program who reach the association on their own.
Sami Altunel was awarded the Stower Award Europe and World 1st League Award with the “Welcome Baby Project and the Implementation.” He donated the prize to the projects to be implemented for the young people with down syndrome. The project has reached more than 400 families and there are 200 families who are active members in the association. Sami Altunel also walked together with 3,000 persons in the Down Syndrome Friendship March which was organized for the first time in Izmir.