Jasmine is a very easy going, fun and happy little three-year-old girl who loves animals, music and making lots of noise. Jasmine lives with her Mum Anna, Dad Kyle and her sister’s Poppy and Daisy.

Jasmine has Downs Syndrome and attended the Mencap Children’s Centre in Belfast for a year. We talked to Jasmine and Anna about how Mencap Northern Ireland has helped them as a family.

Jasmine’s Mum Anna said ‘Jasmine is great, she loves being around people and being friends with everyone.

'She especially loves animals and anything to do with music, because she loves making lots of noise'

'She loves being an older sister to Daisy as she likes to smoother her with love and a younger sister to Poppy, so she can follow her around and copy everything she does'

'She has the best of both worlds really'


Jasmine was born with two holes in her heart and had to have surgery when she was five and a half months old. She was only in hospital for about six days, but she is such a little trooper, she took it in her stride and since then she has been very well. Jasmine has regular check-ups and shouldn’t need any more surgery in the immediate future, which is great.

Throughout my pregnancy, I was regularly checked, I also got the test that tells you whether you’re at high risk or low risk with having a child with Down syndrome and I was at low risk so it really wasn’t in our mind-set at all. At 37 weeks I went in for a routine check-up, it was then that the doctors noticed I didn’t look well so they began to check Jasmines movements and everything was slowing down, so they had to act fast and within an hour I had an emergency section, that was very traumatic for us.

When Jasmine was diagnosed it was quite a shock for us, we couldn’t really believe what we were hearing, because her birth was an emergency, there was no Pediatrician available to confirm the diagnosis, so we had a very long wait. My husband and I hadn’t prepared ourselves for it at all, we had done the test so it was so unexpected. A consultant came to us and said that they had discovered a problem with Jasmine’s heart, they might need to rush her to London for surgery and where not sure if she would make it through the night.

At this stage the diagnosis had not fully been confirmed so when a doctor then said that they would expect this because 50% of children with Down Syndrome are born with a heart condition it again took us by surprise.

At the time, I think it would have been helpful to have met other parents and been able to ask them some questions, some sort of family support that wasn’t medically related would have been good, someone to vent to, and to even ask what sort of things were available for families in our situation.

'When we found out about Mencap, we applied straight away and made a referral through our community paediatrician when Jasmine was a year old'

'We were lucky enough to get a place and Jasmine started the following September'

'Ever since Jasmine started at Mencap things have been amazing'


Having all of her therapies in one place has been great. I was taking jasmine to nearly 7 or 8 appointments a month so it takes a lot of weight off. Jasmine wasn’t walking when she first started and I know certain elements develop as you get older but when she gets her physio and it continues into the room, it doesn’t just stop at the half hour, so her walking is great. Jasmine really developed at Mencap in so many ways from; communication, social skills and mobility. She still has a long way to go but she’s very social and enjoys learning.

The staff in Mencap have been wonderful throughout Jasmines time here, they are all so passionate and compassionate with all of the kids and that was all so new to me. They are very natural and calm and deal with every situation in the best way possible.

Receiving a diagnosis like Downs syndrome doesn’t have to be the end of the world. There is so much support out there such as Mencap and it is great. You do not realise how valuable it is until you’ve been in the situation and seen the benefits it brings.

The Mencap Centre has not only been great for Jasmine’s development and growth but it has also been invaluable for us as a family. It’s made the transition into mainstream school from special needs that little less scary because I know there’s support around us and I think the Early Intervention has been the key to giving Jasmine the best start in life. Thank You Mencap!

Anna’s best friend Rachel has ran various half marathons, including the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon in aid of Mencap NI as a thank you for the support they provided to the family throughout Jasmine’s time at the Mencap Children’s Centre.

If you, like Rachel would like to help raise much needed funds for Mencap NI and children who have a learning disability in Northern Ireland why not #MoveIt4Mencap and sign up for the 2018 Deep River Rock Belfast City Marathon.

Click Here to Sign Up.