Internationally famed model Madeline Stuart will join local leaders, staff and children with disabiliites to announce Entebbe Zoo the first ever Sensory Friendly Zoo in Africa, launching Entebbe’s commitment to becoming an exemplary inclusive community for children with disabilities.
International model Madeline Stuart visits Uganda
In Uganda, children with disabilities, especially developmental disabilities, face an extreme negative stigma. Due to a severe lack of awareness, in many parts of the country they are considered a curse of a burden. They are often hidden away or shunned.
Entebbe, Uganda is taking a stand and making a commitment to change this. Local leaders of government, business, NGOs, religion and education are uniting to work together to make Entebbe the most inclusive community in all of Uganda and an example for others to follow.
As a strong step towards this goal, Entebbe Zoo will be announced the first ever Sensory Friendly Zoo in all of Africa. This certificate is presented by EmbraceKulture, an organization based in Entebbe focused on children with intellectual disabilities.
“Many children in Entebbe and throughout Uganda have never been able to go to the zoo because they have sensory disabilities, meaning they are overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds of the zoo,” said embraceKulture Executive Director, Christa Preston. Entebbe Zoo is setting itself as an example, with trained staff and equipment, to help all children enjoy the magic of the zoo.”
Internationally famed Madeline Stuart, who was named model of the year by Melange in 2015, has traveled to Uganda to be apart of this important event. She will be joined by Miss Uganda, Zahara Muhammad Nakiyaga.
Madeline herself has Down Syndrome, a disability that affects physical and intellectual development. About 1 in 700 children are born with Down Syndrome and they often share unique physical characteristics. It is caused by extra genetic material, and happens at the moment of conception. Many children with Down Syndrome have gone on to accomplish incredible things including modeling, acting and completing university.
In Uganda, there is a sever lack of awareness of Down Syndrome and other disabilities like Autism. Madeline has traveled to Uganda to use fashion to raise awareness, showcase the potential of all children and address the negative stigma these children face. Her mother, Rosanne Stuart will be meeting with parent support groups to tell her touching story of raising Madeline, her struggles and triumphs, and provide hope to parents to embrace the potential of all children.
To learn more about Down Syndrome and other disabilities visit ekulture.org, a site developed in Uganda with locally relevant information, including a parent’s guide.