A corporate decision to include children with Down syndrome in advertisements of kids clothing is catching the attention of the blogosphere and winning praise for raising awareness about the condition.
Rick Smith blogs at NoahsDad.com, about his family's experience raising a son with Down syndrome. He wrote about a recent Target ad that featured a little boy who shared his son's condition, and he was glad no one really noticed.
“It’s no accident that Target used a model with Down Syndrome in this ad; it was an intentional decision,” Smith wrote in a blog post titled Target is 'Down' with Down Syndrome: 5 Things Target Said By Saying Nothing At All." By running the ad, the store showed “that it’s time for organizations to be intentional about seeking creative ways to help promote inclusion, not exclusion,” Smith wrote.
Another blog, Carried With Children, identified at least three times that Target has used a child with Down Syndrome in its advertisements.
"By doing this, they are helping break stereotypes and most importantly, it allows children with special needs to see that they can succeed and they are not alone in this world. I hope this is the beginning of a really great trend in advertising," the site's owner, Carrie, wrote in a post last year.
Smith echoed those sentiments on his blog. “As a father of a son born with a disability I want to sincerely thank you. I hope that more companies choose to follow the great example that you guys have set.”
Smith also had kudos for Nordstrom, which featured a boy with the condition in its anniversary catalog, according to the blogger. “I was happy to see smiling back at me an adorable boy sporting a stylish leather jacket. He was very fashionable, very cool, very hip…and he has Down syndrome,” he said on his blog.
In the comments section of the Nordstrom post on Smith’s blog, Amanda said, “The little ‘hipster’ in the Nordstrom ad is our 6 year old son Ryan. We are very pleased that Nordstrom placed Ryan in their catalog. The whole process of modeling is an extreme confidence booster for him. He received so much warmth and caring from the Nordstrom crew that he thought they were there just for him!”
As more children with Down syndrome appear in ad campaigns, the advertising world may be on the cusp of discovering an untapped pool of talent.
In November, the Daily Mailfeatured a 14-month-old model named Taya Kennedy who was signed to prestigious UK model agency.
The tot’s mother Gemma Andre, told the Daily Mail that when the agency called to tell her they wanted to sign Taya, she said, “I asked them if they were aware she had Down’s Syndrome. They said: 'It’s immaterial. We’ve accepted her.' At that moment I burst into tears,” she was quoted as saying.
One in 691 American babies are born with Down syndrome, a chromosomal condition that alters cognitive and physical development. More than 400,000 people have Down syndrome in the United States, according to the National Down Syndrome Society.