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See Me Beautiful Annual Conference

See Me Beautiful is an annual workshop is offered in the Fall for parents and school teams supporting a child with Down syndrome. The goal of the workshop is to empower support teams welcoming children with Down syndrome into their classrooms by:  1) providing information regarding Down syndrome, with a focus on learning characteristics and academic programming, and 2) providing a setting where educators and parents can interact informally.

Since 2005, our See Me Beautiful Conference has been coordinated by Lori Lester.  Lori spends many hours finding top-notch speakers, arranging for a fantastic experience at the CanadInns Polo Park, and taking care of other details that make our conference special.  Lori’s right hand gal, Joan Kolbauer, handles registrations, sales, and many other tasks on conference day. A highlight of every See Me Beautiful Conference is the wonderful PowerPoint presentation of our children Joan lovingly compiles.  The MDSS Board extends our sincere thanks to these two ladies on behalf of the membership.  The work they do in offering this conference benefits all of our students in Manitoba schools.  

The 18th annual See Me Beautiful Educator and Parent Conference will be held on Monday, November 3, 2014.  This year’s conference is entitled Providing a Meaningful School Experience. Lucille Rodrigues-Braga M.Sc. S-LP(C) and Henrique Braga M.Sc. (PAC) will provide excellent insight into how students with Down syndrome learn and will share practical suggestions on how to achieve a meaningful and inclusive learning environment.  

The 2013 Conference featured Carol Johnson on November 4th, 2013 at the Canad Inns Polo Park 8:30 - 3:30. Carol is an instructor for the University of Calgary; Department of Disability Studies Program. Carol has authored two books; "Captain Chaos Lives Here: A Survival Guide for Raising Very Active Children" and "Teams Work: Teachers and Assistants Creating Success".  More than 150 educators and parents from across Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario spent an exciting and inspiring day with our keynote speaker Carol Johnson.

A special highlight of the 2013 conference was having our very own Ruth Joseph, from the MDSS Board, speak to the group. Ruth’s presentation was inspiring to all who were fortunate enough to be in that room.  Ruth related her experiences as a student who was fully included in regular classrooms throughout her journey through the public school system -  from kindergarten to high school graduation.  In relating the challenges and her successes, Ruth reminded us to set the bar high, and to never let a diagnosis limit our expectations! Ruth also spoke about her experiences serving on VATTA – Voices At The Table Advocacy -- the vision of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society. Ruth is among a number of youth from across Canada who meet together three times per year to provide advocacy advice at the National level.  You can see Ruth’s smiling face on posters, on the CDSS website, and Facebook. Ruth is also a valuable director of the Manitoba Down Syndrome Society.

The 2012 Conference featured Megan Milani Author of: The 3 Habits of Highly Successful Reading Teachers. Megan Milani is an elementary school principal, consultant, reading specialist and author from the Niagara, Ontario area. Megan’s philosophy starts with her unshakable belief that ALL students can learn to read. Her approach to teaching reading has shown a great success, is practical, and is easily integrated into any language arts program.

To inquire about upcoming conferences contact Lori Lester at dlester@mymts.net or Joan Kolbauer at joan.kolbauer@shaw.ca or contact MDSS at 204-992-2731 or click here.

Dinner & Dance

Each November we hold our Annual Dinner & Dance with over 200 people in attendance. The dance is held to celebrate the National Down Syndrome Awareness Week; November 1st - 7th each year. 

Special thanks to Karen Nicholls and Allison Armistead for coordinating this event for many years!  These ladies, who also serve on the MDSS Board of Directors, make all the arrangements for the Dinner Dance, and set up and clean up pretty much single-handedly!  Joan Kolbauer can always be counted on to help at the reception table, her help is greatly appreciated.  The Annual MDSS Dinner Dance is our biggest family event, and MDSS is thrilled to be able to offer tickets to this great party to our members at a fraction of the actual cost because of our hugely successful Buddy Walks.

Our annual Dinner and Dance, held November 13th, 2013 was once again a great success, with 167 people in attendance.  Thanks to Phyllis’ Catering and DJ Crystal Sound!  The Dinner Dance provided a perfect opportunity to connect with old friends and make new ones.  

Last year the Dinner & Dance was held on Saturday, December 1st, 2012 at the Waverly Heights Community Centre at 1885 Chancellor Drive from 5:15 PM until 10 PM. A delicious family style turkey dinner was served by Phyllis's Catering. Door prizes were won, and a DJ Crystal Sounds and Lights will keep the dance floor hopping. 

This annual Dinner & Dance is subsidized by the generous donations generated by the MDSS Annual Buddy Walk, making it a fun and affordable evening. 

Dinner & Dance 2010 & 2011


Baby Love - Semi Annual Event

Baby Love is a semi annual event that brings families together to meet new babies with Down syndrome and their families.  The events are held at St. Saviour’s Anglican Church Hall, 690 Munroe Avenue. Entertainment, Coffee, Tea, Juice and Snacks are provided.

As with all of our MDSS events, Baby Love is only possible because of the love and commitment of volunteers.  MDSS extends our gratitude to Joan Kolbauer and Susan Cearns, who make this event happen twice each year.  'Grandma' Joan is grandmother to Zoe, who lives in California, and still she continues to choose to make a difference in the lives of our Manitoba families!  Susan is mother to Ruth, now 28 years old and on our Board of Directors, and she still continues to visit new parents as requested and co-host Baby Love for new families.   

MDSS is also excited that our newest Board member, Jennifer Barlin, has agreed to be part of the Baby Love organizing committee going forward.  Jen has attended two Baby Love events now; she clearly loves the babies and enjoys interacting with the moms and dads.

The next Baby Love event will be postd on the main events page of our website. Contact MDSS if you are interested in attending this event. 

Baby Love Photos

Buddy Nights

Buddy Night is open to all MDSS members aged 16 – 27 years.  Events are supervised by volunteer parents and paid staff.  Any members in this age group are encouraged to participate, however if there are any “extra needs” (i.e. feeding, toileting, or significant behavior issues) a support person must accompany the participant. For more information on Buddy Nights contact Karen Pfeifer at  karenpfeifer@yahoo.ca

Karen Pfeifer and Maria Pereira, coordinators for Buddy Nights, related how proud they are of all of the Buddy Night "kids" and how they have so enjoyed watching them grown socially since they initiated Buddy Nights several years ago.  The Board of Directors of MDSS once again thanks these two inspiring ladies for the opportunities they are offering our youth.  Karen and Maria had an idea, they talked about it and thought about it, they honed the idea, and then approached MDSS for support.  In the end they created a platform for many young people to get out and have a blast together.  They give their own time to plan each event, hire staff, and are on site throughout every event to ensure that things go well and everyone is happy.

Past Buddy Nights have been held at a variety of places. Nineteen young members of the Manitoba Down Syndrome Society danced the night away at our January 18th, 2014 Buddy Night!  The group attended a Hawaiian themed dance that was advertised in the Winnipeg Leisure Guide.  The dances and karaoke nights offered at the Fort Rouge Leisure Centre have become very popular with many youth, and there is usually a packed house.  This time was no exception!  

In 2013 a Halloween dance was held at the Fort Rouse Leisure Centre ant 625 Osborne Sreet. Also, at Academy Bowling Lanes the evening included glow bowling followed by pizza, drinks and fun in the party room. For a 2012 Buddy Night, nineteen young adults enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Oakwood Café in St. Vital, and then danced the night away at the annual Halloween Dance at the Fort Rouge Leisure Centre.  Prior to that, we had supper at The Original Pancake House, then travelled by limos to a Hawaiian Dance at the Fort Rouge Leisure Centre.  A wonderful time was had by all! 

Click Here for Buddy Night Photos



Lisa’s Saturday Night Livewires, a social club for young people with Down syndrome, was formed in the fall of 2006.  It was a dream of one of our beautiful young ladies - Lisa Mitchell.  Sadly, Lisa passed away at a tender young age and was not able to see the group formed.   The group lives on in her name.

 Livewires gatherings provide opportunities for our young people to get together for fun, social Saturday evenings - without parents!  The original members remain a cohesive group, with only one member moving out of province and one leaving the group over the last 5 years.  The teens are now young adults who have become great friends, who socialize outside of Livewires times, and often include each other in their special celebrations.  

 The club generally meets twice per month in the big hall at Church of the Way in RiverHeights, where they ‘hang out’ as only young people can do.  Occasional outings, such as bowling or mini-golf, have been great fun as well.

 Families pay an annual fee of $150.00 per year for club participation.  The balance of the costs for staff salaries and hall rental is subsidized by the generosity of the MDSS.

 Livewires was created by a group of 5 parents.  It took very little time to arrange, and is very low maintenance from year to year.  MDSS would love to see the creation of a new, similar club for our current teens.  We are searching for a group of parents who are willing to put in a little time making the initial arrangements.  Please contact the MDSS office if you would like to head up this venture. 

Click Here for LiveWires Photo 

Annual Buddy Walk - September 29, 2013

The 6th annual Buddy Walk date is set for September 29, 2013 to be held at the Canadian Mennonite University North Campus. The walk is for the whole family and helps raise awareness of People with Down syndrome. Register at mdssbuddywalk@gmail.com

12:00 to 2:00 – Registration and Fun 

  • Live band Midlife Krysis,
  • Children’s activities  (clowns, Spiderman, balloon art, face painting, etc)
  • Food for purchase (Domino’s Pizza & a drink – all proceeds to MDSS)
  • Socializing time with friends you may not have seen in awhile
  • Buy your raffle tickets…we have some incredible prizes, including a big screen TV, overnight at the Fort Garry Hotel and a $100 gift certificate for The Keg downtown, and many more prizes
  • Purchase hoodies for your whole family at a real deal (2 for $25)

2:00 Welcome, warm-up and Walk with your teams 

  • Longer 3K walk includes 7 stations where you can pick up things like water,  pepperoni sticks, toothbrushes, and other surprises
  • Shorter 1K walk can be chosen

Following the Walk 

  • Cupcakes and coffee
  • Awards for Most Buddies and Most Money Raised
  • Raffle Draws

Volunteers are needed. If you are interested in volunteering please contact Val at 694-3530.

Buddy Walk Pledge forms are available  by clicking on this link.

Buddy Walk Photos  


2013 Canadian Down Syndrome Conference

Winnipeg welcomed the annual Canadian Down Syndrome Conference May 17th to 20th, 2013. The conference took place at the Delta Hotel Downtown and was a great success. Thank you to all of the volunteers from Winnipeg who helped make this happen! 

To see a slideshow of the conferece visit this link http://youtu.be/zERj4l5Ri7w