About Us

The DSAYR is a Charitable Organization which supports York Region, in Ontario, Canada. We aim to promote, support and advocate for people with Down syndrome within our communities. We focus on ability, inclusivity and equity.


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 enhance the lives of their children and families. 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. Following that they officially set up 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.
  • The Down Syndrome Association of York Region provides support and information to anyone in the community who requires assistance. Referrals are always welcome from Early Intervention Services, School Boards, Education Workers, Families, Medical Professionals, York Support Services Network, and all Down syndrome Associations.
  • We are connected with both Neonatal care units and all hospitals in York Region. We hope to support all parents of newborn children with Down syndrome to have a starting point with respect to this new, and often unexpected road ahead.
  • We offer special privileges to our DSAYR members including subsidized programs and admission to our events. Simply maintaining an active membership allows us to continue offering programs and respective subsidies.
Giovanna Arcella  
Vice President
Anna Francescangeli (Calabretta)
Luana Fazio

DSAYR Committee Members

Jennifer Sodiya

SEAC Rep – Public

Tracy Armstrong-Smythe

SEAC Rep – Public (Alternate)

Nancy Byrne

SEAC Rep – Separate

Stephen Byrne

SEAC Rep – Separate (Alternate)


New Parents Ambassador


Telephone Administrator

Bruna Doria

Assistant to the Committee


Advisor to the Committee

Program Facilitator

Giovanna Arcella

Event Organizers

Bruna Doria

Networking Events


Winterfest Bowling


Summer Picnic


Buddy Walk