March 21, 2016 marks World Down Syndrome day worldwide, a day to raise public awareness of Down Syndrome, a congenital disorder caused by having an extra 21st chromosome.
Each year the voice of people with Down syndrome, and those who live and work with them, grows louder. One individual in particular who has been making headlines is Madeline Stuart. Madeline is a 19-year-old Australian model with Down Syndrome who is changing society’s perceptions of beauty – one photo shoot at a time. Despite the stigma that can come with the disorder, she has experienced unprecedented accomplishments in the world of fashion, forever altering the public’s perception of those like her. She is most famous for being the first model with Down Syndrome to walk in Paris Fashion Week. On her Facebook page, she says her goal is to “change society’s view of people with disabilities” through modeling, as “exposure is creating awareness, acceptance and inclusion.”
This year, Down Syndrome International is introducing the #MyFriendsMyCommunity initiative, which encourages persons with Down Syndrome to show the world how they live and participate in the community alongside family, friends, peers and the public. These experiences may be shared by photos, messages, quotes from friends or in any way you choose. The following video features children from all over the world explaining their #MyFriendsMyCommunity story.
Also new this year, CoorDown (Italy’s national organization for people with Down Syndrome) has teamed up with Saatchi & Saatchi for the fifth consecutive year to create a campaign for World Down Syndrome Day. The campaign is manifested through a PSA titled ‘How Do You See Me?’ narrated by a girl with Down Syndrome describing the life she sees herself having. It aims to ignite a conversation around how those living with Down Syndrome see themselves and how they are sometimes disadvantaged when people pre-judge them based on their condition. The objective of the new CoorDown campaign, in line with the World Down Syndrome Day’s theme is to help create a culture of diversity and to encourage new pathways for inclusion in schools, in the working environment and inside the communities where people with down syndrome live.
We hope this piece sparks a dialogue and we welcome you to watch the video below and start a conversation by leaving your comments on our Facebook page. We are curious to hear your thoughts as we are actively working with creatives from the advertising, marketing and film sectors, as well as actors, families and supporters of folks with disabilities to produce ideas and commercial scripts that illustrate how persons with disabilities can bring fresh and creative angles into advertising. Our collective goal of “Shift the Script” is to ignite a movement where persons with disabilities are playing lead roles in media. We believe this presents not only a fresh and creative opportunity for the advertising industry, but that it can also accelerate social change. To learn more, please click here.