Kolkata, Mar 21 (PTI) Thirty five gifted children, with their parents and teachers, today visited heritage sites here in a tram on the World Down Syndrome Day.

Five organisations namely Asha School Eastern Command, Behala Bodhayan, Down Syndrome Support Group, Manovikas Kendra and Mentaid organised the ride with actor Victor Banerjee accompanying the children for the entire 5-km long journey in a tram car, decorated with flowers and posters.

“I have been with them for 20 years. And travelling in tram on Kolkata streets is also nothing new for me. I am always available to promote compassion,” the ‘Bitter Moon’ actor told PTI.

“And even if ten people remember the cause that will help. Apathy is a mental disorder, apathy is a disease,” Banerjee, the Goodwill Ambassador of the initiative, said.

He said these were all simple ordinary children and they not afflicted with any infectious disease.

“We must be aware of the fact that one chromosome causes this syndrome and it is a matter of accepting them,” he said while playing with 8-year old Ayush, who was flaunting a poster “Hi! I am a proud Down’s Child.’

Another poster, held by 15-year old Shraboni read, “You laugh because I’m different. I laugh because you are all the same.”

A spokesperson of Mentaid, which initiated the programme, said Down syndrome was the most common anomaly, caused by an aberration of the 21st chromosome.

“One in every 700 babies is born with Down syndrome.

In 99 per cent of cases it is not hereditary. We need to instill awareness among the people about children affected by the disease. These children need to be understood and cared by the society, not left in the lurch,” she said.

The journey route comprised hertage spots like ‘Jorasanko Thakurbari’, Presidency University, Calcutta University, Medical College to make the children aware about Kolkata’s rich past, she said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.