Inclusion and Representation – models with Downs

We’ve had a lot of interest recently in our use of models with Downs syndrome on both our website and social media.

The models we used in our shoot are all children of friends all of whom we have know since they were born. We loved working with all our models on the launch of Panda and the Sparrow and their mums loved it too – lots of great pics for the family album…

As you can imagine the shoot was madness – 5 children under 2 – plus mums, plus Judith and myself plus our kids, plus photographer, plus assistant. Quite a crowd and such a lot of fun.

We managed to get through the day with no tears and 1 tantrum – my son! All of the children had so much fun and hopefully the shots show that.

One final word on the use of models with Downs – from someone who is much better at expressing it than me:

Thanks to Seb’s Mum for her lovely words on facebook  at the weekend she made us feel UH-MAZING also:

“I want to just express how it makes me feel seeing all the child models that are being used in campaigns that have Down’s syndrome.

It feels UH-MAZING.

Inclusive advertising is about seeing children as individuals, not conditions. It is about children being seen in beautiful, aspirational clothes and campaigns, and it is about representation. It is about changing outdated stereotypes that still exist about disability and certain conditions. It is about equality and representation. It is about removing the unnecessary “fear” of the unknown that exclusion has created in the past.

Children with Down’s syndrome (and other disabilities) are not defined by their conditions, they are people first. They are individuals, they are not a list of characteristics in a text book or medical journal, they are a reflection of their upbringing, families, friends and life experiences. Thankfully too, children with disabilities are no longer hidden away from society, they are included – in schools, in communities and in society.

I will never forget the Waitrose advert I saw when Seb was a tiny baby. It featured a giant picnic and scores of families all eating together. I scanned their faces, knowing full well there wouldn’t be a family there that represented mine. At a time when I was feeling isolated and “different” it made me feel worse. I could never have imagined then what a typical family life we would lead and that’s why I have always felt so passionate about inclusion and the opportunity to change such thinking and make “different” “normal”.

And look, Harrison isn’t just in the campaign, he made it to the Facebook cover photo. I think the page deserves a “like” (lovely stuff too!) so get on over and give them a massive thumbs up!!”

Thank you to Sebs Mum founder of the Facebook page Down’s Syndrome – Raising Awareness and Shifting Attitudes”

Amanda and Judith xx


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