The Aquis Titans’ unique program to support and inspire families affected by Down syndrome – headed by Ken Stephen Medal nominee Luke Douglas (Click here to vote for Luke Douglas) - has been nominated for the NRL Club Community Program of the Year. 

The annual award recognises, celebrates and rewards excellent or innovative community programs conducted by NRL clubs. 

A program is nominated by the club for its involvement in charity work, education, youth development or community support that demonstrates his ability as a community role model.

The Titans Community program’s overarching aim is to positively raise awareness of Down syndrome with the broader community and enhance social inclusion for people with Down syndrome, enabling them to engage with their mainstream peers through a shared love of rugby league.  It is run in conjunction with the Down Syndrome Association of Queensland,

Fans see the children in the program lead the team onto Cbus Super Stadium for one game per year, and the joy the children and families derive from the wonderful experience. It is a day where 26 children become a focal point of the day before thousands of fans and 250 family members.

But it is just only one of the many activities aimed at improving the lives of those involved and bringing awareness to Down syndrome.

Its success is best judged by those whose lives are aimed at enhancing but certainly the commitment and passion shown by Luke Douglas, and many of the Titans players, and our community team led by Eden Cartwright, is obvious.

“I have struggled to hone down my passion for the Titans Community program into a succinct and strategic document,” said DASQ volunteer Cally Ward in support of the club’s submission.

“In fact I could speak for an hour with tears streaming down my face in support of the work of the Gold Coast Titans team and their incredible commitment for the Down Syndrome Association of Queensland (DSAQ) on the Gold Coast.

“The life of a person with DS and their family members is not easy. Everyday tasks are challenges to be overcome and sometimes families struggle to accept the adjustments required to raise care for and enhance the life of a person with DS.

“The program put in place a unique and unimaginable opportunity for people with DS to engage with professional sportsmen and be acknowledged by the fans.

“They were at the heart of the community. The community were applauding them, celebrating them and acknowledging them on the same platform as sporting super stars. For one day, they experienced the 100 per cent support and acceptance from the NRL community and fans. As families we felt euphoric. It was life-enhancing. It was pure joy.

“The program, through rugby league, undoubtedly made a significant contribution to our DSAQ-Gold Coast community.”

Added DSAQ executive officer Louise Lloyd: “People with DS are often excluded from community participation due to misinformed stereotypes, lack of transport or generally made to feel as if they don’t belong. The Gold Coast Titans blew that theory out of the water when they established their community partnership program.

“The Gold Coast Titans placed people with DS at the front and centre of community, they placed people with DS right at the heart of the sport they love – on the field with their hero players.”

The NRL Club Community Program of the Year will be awarded at the NRL’s One Community Awards in Sydney on Friday 2nd October.