Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio

Support an Event


In May, we hold a 5K and Fun Run sponsored by 2FGR.  We also offer balloon animals, face painting and bounce houses for family entertainment. If you would like to help out at this event, contact Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio for more information! 


Who can help: Anyone!


Conduct an Advocacy/ Awareness Campaign


There are a lot of myths about Down syndrome and the people who have it.  To create a more accepting and inclusive world for all people, including those with Down syndrome, it’s important to provide the people in our communities with accurate information. You can help by making posters or passing out flyers to inform others about the myths and facts on Down syndrome as well as all the ways that people with Down syndrome contribute to our society. Take a look at our website to learn more!

Who can help: Anyone!

Organize a Fundraiser


Groups can use any type of activity to help raise money to be donated to Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio. Examples include organizing a run or walk, a bake sale, a car wash, etc.

Who can help: Anyone!

Run a Collection Drive


Coordinate a drive among friends, family or classmates to collect and donate items for “welcome baskets” which we provide to new parents and babies.  Small items for newborns are appropriate.  

Who can help: Anyone!

Contact Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio under the ‘Contact’ tab on the menu to your left to set up volunteer opportunities or service projects!

What is your organization’s mission statement?


The mission of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio is to support families, promote community involvement and encourage a lifetime of opportunities for people with Down syndrome. Our Vision is for people with Down syndrome to achieve their fullest potential in an accepting and inclusive community.

What population do you serve? 


We are committed to providing support, assistance and education to individuals with Down syndrome and their families in 18 Ohio counties. We operate with minimal staff and are grateful for the many who volunteer their time to promote our mission.

How many do you serve in a year? 


DSACO supports approximately 1200 families in an 18 county area.

What region or area do you provide services in?


We provide service to the following counties: Athens, Coshocton, Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Hocking, Knox, Licking, Madison, Marion, Morgan, Morrow, Muskingum, Perry, Pickaway, Ross and Union

How and when did the organization get started? 
A handful of parents began meeting in the 1970s. The group slowly connected with more families who had a loved one with Down syndrome and DSACO was officially started in 1984. We are still primarily made up of families. 

How many employees do you have? 


We have 2 full time and 3 part-time employees.

How many volunteers does your organization have?       (click the “Service Projects” tab to learn more about volunteer opportunities)


DSACO has approximately 500 volunteers helping us each year.

How do your programs or services help the community?


Through our efforts, families are supported throughout the life of their loved one with Down syndrome. We also support professionals such as teachers and physicians in providing best practice services by providing the educational information they need.

Program Descriptions 


Advocacy: Advocacy is an integral part of what we do. In order to do away with the misconceptions of Down syndrome and to present the facts, advocating on behalf of our members—especially those with Down syndrome—is one of the most important elements of our mission. But we can’t do it alone. That’s why we encourage our members, the public, and anyone with the passion to see those with disabilities treated with the respect they deserve to join us in our efforts. And, we make it easy. Periodically, we provide advocacy training. This usually consists of a simple, two-hour session that demonstrates how easy it is to start a conversation about Down syndrome or simply share your own personal story.

Ds Medical Edge: This is a Medical Outreach program to doctors who care for pregnant women. During the first trimester of a women’s pregnancy, a screening to detect if the baby might have Down syndrome is often conducted. DSACO’s goal is to provide up-to-date, accurate information to doctors so they can be well informed when explaining the screening results, and a sense of what to expect, to their patients. DSACO information is also included to promote our resources and support. The “Ds Medical Edge” program is run by trained volunteers to deliver resources

Little Buddies Support Group for New or Expectant Parents: We know that when a new parent or parent-to-be learns that their child has Down syndrome, it is often a shock to hear such unexpected news. Expectant parents may never have considered the possibility of having a child with Down syndrome and we know that this can cause parents to feel a wide range of emotions, which are perfectly normal. At the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio, we know parents can be easily overwhelmed by the new challenges they are facing. Part of our job is to pull together quality information from credible sources and provide them to parents as they search for answers to their many questions.

iCanBike: Biking is more than just exercise and transportation: it’s a social activity of connection, a childhood rite of passage and a first taste of independence. Transforming biking into an inclusive activity is the mission of iCanBike, a national organization that conducts bike camps for individuals with special needs. This unique approach has enabled thousands of people, with a variety of disabilities, to become independent bicycle riders. Each year, the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio hosts our iCanBike Camp in June, at a local high school. Please contact DSACO for more information.

Down Syndrome Golf Academy (DSGA): DSACO is pleased to announce that we will once again partner with The First Tee®, Blacklick Woods Golf Course and Bent Tree Golf Club for the Down Syndrome Golf Academy (DSGA). Through these partnerships, participants ages 12 and older learn all aspects of the game of golf and nine core values—honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.

Recreation Scholarships: Recreational scholarships are available to individuals with Down syndrome who wish to take part in recreational activities that include, but are not limited to, organized sports, summer camps, exercise classes, swim lessons, gymnastics and dance. Prescribed therapies such as physical therapy sessions are not eligible. 

Summer Learning Academy: Learning loss during the summer is a concern of many parents. Summer vacation breaks the rhythm of instruction, leads to forgetting, and requires a significant amount of review of material when students return to school in the fall. In response, DSACO will be offering 60 hours of academic instruction through a pilot Summer Learning Academy for children with Down syndrome who have completed grades 1-4. The primary goals are to minimize learning loss, improve math and reading skills and improve social development.

Annual Conference for Adults with Down syndrome: DSACO’s annual mini conference for adults was held at Deer Creek State Park on August 22 – 24. This year’s conference themed “Here’s to Your Health” included workshops on safety, first aid, emergency preparedness, yoga, and speaking and listening. Parents could attend information sessions on Transitioning from a pediatrician to family doctor and emergency preparedness. The weekend was topped off with a dance and pontoon ride.   

Support Groups: The Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio offers several different support groups to provide support and information to families and children with Down syndrome. Our goal is to increase awareness and improve the quality of life for those living with Down syndrome. The groups include: Little Buddies, 3-6 play groups, DADS group, DS/ASD dual diagnosis support and others.

DSACO’s Wishlist:

  • DSACO does not provide any specific equipment or items. We do provide “welcome baskets” to our new babies so small items appropriate for newborns are welcome.

Name: Marge Barnheiser

Title: Program Director

Organization: Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio


Work: (614) 263-6020

510 E North Broadway
Columbus, OH 43214

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