The DSAYR began in the late 1980's, when a group of parents from Newmarket, each having a child with Down syndrome, connected and decided that they can do something to improve the lives of their children. Together, they eagerly began to find resources within their community that would benefit their children.

They formed the DSAYR specifically to address education issues, through the Special Education Advisory Committees (SEAC) of both school boards. They officially set up the DSAYR as a charitable organization, with an elected Executive Committee, to be able to have a representative sit on the SEAC. Simultaneously, they promoted inclusiveness and awareness that children with Down syndrome have as much to offer and are entitled to the same opportunities as any other child.

Thanks to those families for their tireless work, as they still advocate for the Down syndrome community today!


  • For new parents of a child with Down Syndrome, we can provide a New Parent Package to help begin your journey, arrange a New Parent Visit at your home, provide information about Down syndrome and community services available to you.
  • Host new parent get-togethers, where parents of newborn and young children have a safe and caring environment to ask questions and interact with other families;
  • Hold official representation on the two York Region School Boards, through the Special Education Advisory Committees (SEAC). We actively participate in the development of special education policies and practices, ensuring that education issues address the needs of the Down syndrome community;
  • Provide networking opportunities for families, friends, caregivers, educators who are living and working with people with Down syndrome. We create opportunities to share mutual concerns, resource ideas and "best practices";
  • Host information evenings where a guest speaker will present to our members regarding a topic of interest;
  • Organize fun family events for members at various times throughout the year.
  • Offer various programs to support additional learning opportunities for children with Down syndrome, such as music therapy, martial arts training and speech and language;
  • Provide general information on Down syndrome to members, educators and the general public, through our website and pamphlets;
  • Work tirelessly to increase the community's awareness and understanding of the abilities of people with Down syndrome.

Who is eligible?

  • The Down Syndrome Association of York Region accepts referrals from Early Intervention Services, Teachers, Principals, Education Workers, Families, Parents, Doctors, York Support Services Network, and the Toronto, Ontario and Canadian Down Syndrome Associations. We provide support and information to anyone in the community who requires assistance.
  • We are connected with the NeoNatal care units of various hospitals in York Region. This helps parents of new born children with Down syndrome to have a starting point with respect to this new, and often unexpected road they are about to take.
  • We offer special membership privileges to our DSAYR members who maintain their membership current and support the nominal annual fee. These include subsidized admission to our events and programs. The fee allows us to continue to offer these subsidies.

Executive & Committee Members

DSAYR Executive Members
Domenic Gentilini
Giovanna Arcella
Vice President
Anna Francescangeli (Calabretta)
Andy Brookes
Advisor to the Committee
DSAYR Committee Members
Celina Sturk
Summer Picnic Organizer
Christina Chiefalo
New Parents Ambassador
Telephone Administrator
Tracy Armstrong-Smythe
SEAC Rep - Public
Susan Wu
SEAC Rep - Public (Alternate)
Kathy Bryden
SEAC Rep - Separate
Stephen Byrne
SEAC Rep - Separate (Alternate)
Program Facilitators
Anna Francescangeli (Calabretta)
Chatterbox Facilitator
Event Organizers
Winterfest Bowling
Summer Picnic
Buddy Walk


Recent News

In light of the escalating situation in Ontario and around the world, the decision has been made to cancel all subsidized and/or sponsored DSAYR group gatherings until further notice. Let's keep healthy, safe and positive during this time.
Private member's bill proposed to help those who receive prenatal diagnosis!


We are always looking for volunteers to assist us in carrying out our mandate. Connect with us if you would like to help out. You can refer to the VACANT Committee positions, or bring us new ideas.

Get Involved
Designed and Developed by Hubnest.