Down Syndrome in the Media By Kat Abianac / December 16, 2014 This is Izzy. Isn’t she gorgeous? Izzy has Down syndrome. But that’s not why she is in the media and print this week. It’s just a toy catalogue! She’s in it to help Target sell activity centres, by playing and looking cute. Target have featured children with Down syndrome in their catalogues previously, too! Which makes perfect sense, as 1 in every 660 children are born with Down syndrome. But.. guess what you didn’t know about this child model? She wasn’t a child model before. Target, as a company, proactively APPROACH local associations and sections of the disability community and ask for models. They effectively help create a level playing field for all children – ensuring their catalogues are a JUST and FAIR representation of the society we live in. Why is this so important to do? Because otherwise children who may fall within certain demographics can easily be under-represented. And that’s not fair, or just. All our beautiful children, without exception, deserve opportunities like these. And how do I know about all this stuff? Because my little boy Parker has Down syndrome too. Izzy and Parker are roughly the same age and their rockin’ mommas happen to be friends. A photo of Izzy’s ad yesterday got 450,000 likes and rising. Izzy’s mom Heather says, “I hope the day will come when a little girl with Down syndrome in an ad campaign ISN’T a big deal. Because that means it’s just commonplace.” And our new type of normal. I would never have dreamed of putting Parker on the books at a modelling agency either. We all have our own reasons (honestly, how many kids are actually signed up, or have parents who want to!?) Parker has strabismus (a slight squint) and couldn’t even sit upright without support at 6 months of age. I expected a typical child and for the most part, I got one. But he fitted outside the box of social ‘averages’. It’s a scary leap – to thrust your child in the spotlight in such a way. Most families after a diagnosis spend time working through their own emotions, as well as adjusting to life and new family dynamic. I haven’t seen many proactively find the time to pursue a modelling career for their infant! However, I was approached by a small Australian business, when he was just a baby. And this is what happened as a result. Parker’s first modelling shoot for Bibska Bibs Parker Myles and local Brisbane business owner Elizabeth Guthrie, checking out her window display featuring his ad poster. promotional picture featuring Parker Myles Both Parker and Izzy recieved lovely feedback from the company’s customers after their studio adventures. And our families have images to proudly display in our memory books for the rest of our lives. It didn’t change anyone’s life, or fill a college fund… but Izzy’s Target ad went viral, and millions of people got to see how perfectly typical life can generally be for a child with Down syndrome. It is a very deliberate gesture on a company’s part – to selectively choose and source a child with a disability as a model for their products. It says, loudly and clearly – ‘I want my company to represent who my consumers really are.’ And THAT is true inclusion. Thank you, Target USA. Target Australia: Have you yet implemented similar hiring policies for your catalogue work? Your words on your Facebook page today in response to Izzy’s photo being posted by a customer, indicate you are perhaps moving in that direction in the future.. I certainly hope so! How about other large Australian companies? Target is setting the bar for inclusion. Australian Large Enterprises: I’d like to see you reach out to some local disability organisations to see what you can make happen. I can promise you the rewards will be tenfold- and not just for your bottom line. If you have a child who has had a diagnosis of Down syndrome recently, these resources are for you. Australian New Parents Resources International New Parents Resources See more by visiting Parker’s Place, and check out some of our favourite images below!