The Down Syndrome Association Malta is this year’s winner of the Mons Mikiel Azzopardi Award. This was announced by Fr Martin Micallef, Director of Id-Dar tal-Providenza, during a vocal and instrumental concert by the band of the Armed Forces of Malta. H.E. the President of Malta Dott. George Vella, in the presence of Auxiliary Bishop, Mgr Joseph Galea-Curmi, presented the award to representatives of the Down Syndrome Association. The concert was held at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Imdina by the band of the Armed Forces of Malta under the baton of its Director of Music, Captain Jonathan Borg. Christine Delicata was the presenter.
The Down Syndrome Association Malta was formed in 1981 when it was established and led by parents of persons with the Down Syndrome. The association is registered as a voluntary organisation and as such is totally dependent on voluntary support and donations made by the generosity of its members and the general public in order to maintain its mission and cover administrative expenses.
One of the main aims of the association is to encourage persons with the Down Syndrome condition to reach their potential where they can live indipendently in a society that accepts their capabilities. The association also helps parents who just had a new born with the Down Syndrome condition by providing advice and support particularly during the early stages of its life. Another role is that the association represents the interest and needs of Down Syndrome persons in all aspects of their lives and individual needs as members of the family and the community.
The concert that was very well attended took place on Friday, December 1st on the occasion of the World Day for Persons with Disability that is celebrated on December 3rd. In a short address, Fr Martin Micallef said that the United Nations established this Day as an annual occasion for society to unite as one to support persons with disability living in our communities, establish awareness of the importance that we create a better future in which persons with disability enjoy equal opportunities and do not have to face any obstacle in all aspects of their lives in the communities they make part of, both in their daily lives as well as in their expectations for gainful employment and the realisation of their aspirations. To this, Pope Francis added the importance that during this Day we also promote a culture for life that continually affirms the dignity of every person, especially as a protection to men and women of all ages and social conditions.
The concert included works by Kettlebey, Yoder, Nelhybel, Appermont, Coleridge‑Taylor together with those of Maltese composers Aurelio Belli, Daniel Vella and Antoine Marcieca. Solists were Sgt Joseph Zammit on the Euphonium, Bdr Joseph Grech on the tubular bells and tenor Bdr Georg Zammit.
The Mons Mikiel Azzopardi award, that was given out for the first time in 1955, is awarded every year in recognition of contributions made by persons in the disability sector in Malta and Gozo as well as to persons and organisations that help out Id-Dar tal-Providenza in its mission.