Target, Nordstrom praised for using child model with Down syndrome
January 17, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – If you were thumbing through Nordstrom’s 2011 Anniversary Catalog or browsing through Target’s early January ads, you may have noticed a little boy about 6 years old. He was sporting a stylish leather jacket and wearing dapper blue jeans, or wearing a bright orange shirt with black striped sleeves.
But even if you did notice him, you might be surprised to discover that the boy happens to have been born with Down syndrome. His name is Ryan.
The fact that Ryan was placed side-by-side with other children who don’t have Down syndrome has been hailed by pro-life and disability rights advocates as a great example of how people with a disability should be treated.
Rick Smith, creator and administrator of a website and blog that offers a daily glimpse into the life of his family as he and his wife raise their 2 year-old son Noah, who has Down syndrome, says that he is “glad” that mainstream companies are finally starting to cast an eye on children with Down syndrome as models in their regular ads.
Smith says that such ads give the message that people born with Down syndrome “deserve to be treated the same as every other person on this planet.”
Currently, most children with Down syndrome are not treated the same as every other person. In fact, when parents discover through prenatal testing that their child bears the genetic anomaly of having an extra 21st chromosome, 90% of them decide that their child does not deserve to see the light of day, and will get an abortion. This despite the fact that recent studies show that 99% of people with Down syndrome say they are happy, 96% like how they look, and 97% like who they are.
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Smith says that the time has come for the world to see people born with disabilities with a “fresh set of eyes.” It is time to “lay down all the inaccurate stereotypes from the past and move forward embracing the future with true and accurate ones,” he says.
Smith finds it humorous when people tell him that they will pray for Noah’s healing. “Down syndrome,” he says, is Noah’s “entire genetic code … If you were to ‘take away’ Down syndrome [from our son], you would take away our son. He would have a completely different genetic code, thus being a completely different person.”
“Please don’t pray for our son to be ‘healed’ of Down syndrome,” begs Smith jokingly, “we really like our son, and would prefer to keep him!”
Ryan’s mom Amanda agrees with Smith’s sentiment.
“Our children with Down Syndrome are amazing! So many have had huge health obstacles to overcome from the very beginning of their lives. We, their families, know how far they have come, and how much more is ahead of them. Every day is a journey, and a celebration,” she wrote on a blog.
Ryan’s mother is pleased that her son is called to model in ads for prestigious companies. “We are honored that Ryan is making the Down Syndrome community proud. He is a beautiful boy inside and out. He makes us better parents, and a better family.”
Smith has nothing but thanks for companies like Target that turn to children like Ryan for that extra special ingredient that makes their goods look good.
“As a father of a son born with a disability I want to sincerely thank you,” he wrote on his blog.
“I hope that more companies choose to follow the great example that you guys have set. By choosing to embrace the exciting future and limitless opportunities for people like my son [with Down syndrome], organizations like yours are leading the way in showing the world that our world isn’t forced to live in the past.”