The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party held a virtual meeting on Sunday with 21 people with Down syndrome and their families, marking World Down Syndrome Day.

Amid the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), told to the families that talks would be held with Health Minister Fahrettin Koca to prioritize children with Down syndrome.

Kilicdaroglu also highlighted the importance of employment for people with Down syndrome, and said the government could do more to encourage employers in this regard.

“The government can pay the social security premiums of these children, instead of the employer,” he said.

He also noted that since children with Down syndrome are not given high school diplomas, they are not able to enter university, adding that this issue should also be addressed.

“Because children with Down syndrome sometimes have superior skills, much more qualified and special abilities than us,” Kilicdaroglu said, adding that these talents should be discovered.

Noting that many mothers looking after their children with Down syndrome wanted to be retired, he said: “[Those] mothers should be retired. Mothers have to leave their job and spend more time for their children.”

He said their social security premiums should be met by the state and after some time, they should be counted as having retired.

March 21 is observed annually to raise awareness on Down syndrome, a congenital disorder in which a person has an extra chromosome, leading to mental and physical development challenges.

*Writing by Sena Guler

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