The Ups of Down’s Syndrome

491. Angela Jack (Lanarkshire)

A mother from South Lanarkshire runs the Ups & Downs theatre group, which gives young people with Down’s Syndrome and their siblings the chance to perform in shows.

As the world marked International Women’s Day on 8 March, this week we have been recognising the achievements of five women who are making a difference around the world.

Angela Jack got involved with the organisation 11 years ago and has spent the last seven on Board as Vice-President and then President. Under her leadership the audience for the main annual show has grown from 1,500 to 3,500 people. This is thanks to the many activities Angela runs, including speaking to local groups, promoting the show in the media and making YouTube videos of the children rehearsing.

When Angela’s son, who has Down’s Syndrome, was 5 years old, she joined the organisation because she wanted to find something that he could get involved in that would help him develop as a person and keep up with his peers. Beside excellent results, she brought some new ideas such as getting previous cast members to become part of the production team and working on getting the show to Edinburgh festival.

Angela is passionate about showing the positives of Down’s syndrome to the public, and has succeeded in enhancing the awareness and interest of others through attracting them to watch shows played by children and young adults with Down’s syndrome and see their talents.

Ups & Downs Theatre Group is the only group in Scotland for children and young people with Down’s Syndrome and their siblings. It was founded 21 years ago by four teachers from local special needs schools. There are 35 regular volunteers involved in putting on the main yearly show, along with the annual pantomime, annual dance after the show and a sports day and barbecue. The main annual show is running from 7th-12th March (no performance Wednesday) at The Hamilton Townhouse, Hamilton.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“The Ups & Down’s theatre group gives young people with Down’s Syndrome the opportunity to get involved in theatre and perform alongside their siblings and friends. Angela’s leadership has helped to grow the group and raise awareness of the opportunities it offers, giving hundreds of young people the chance to have fun and show off their talent. As we mark International Women’s Day this week, I am delighted to be recognising Angela as the UK’s 491st Point of Light.”

Angela said:

“I am deeply honoured to be awarded a Point of Light from Prime Minister David Cameron. My work with The Ups & Downs is a pleasure, a job made special by our cast who perform their annual show with such passion and professionalism. Their commitment and hard work is inspirational and to be a part of that and able to help in any way is an honour.”

Scotland Office Minister Andrew Dunlop said:

“Angela has made a real difference to her community and richly deserves her Point of Light award. In the week in which we celebrate International Women’s Day, her work is a shining example of what can be achieved by one woman with the vision and determination to improve the lives of those around her.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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