Raising a child with Down Syndrome has its challenges.
There is the concern that the child will fall victim to relentless bullying and the cruelness of the world. There’s also pressure on the parents who, no doubt, want the best for their child know that many things will be more difficult for them.
But a child with Down Syndrome is just like any other child. They too have dreams and goals that they would like to achieve. They too want to do something well enough to receive praise and even accolades.
These are things every child wants.
Riley Baxter of Kent, United Kingdom, is no different. At just 4-years-old, Riley landed a modeling gig.
Now, he can check one thing off of his wishlist because he’s achieved that goal and now models for A Mothercare advert, Little Bird Clothing by Jools Oliver.
Riley’s mother said:
“After we were told he had Down Syndrome I cried, not for the case that I would love him any less but just knowing how cruel the world can be. That was the first thing that went through my mind but obviously my perceptions were wrong, and wow how wrong I was.”
Riley has had to overcome many obstacles that other children do not. He is mostly non-verbal and has had trouble walking.
Still, Riley has been unstoppable.
He’s made great strides in sign language. His father said, “it’s to the point where other children are learning it from him.”
And although he had to use a walker until he was 3 years old, due to his weak muscles, he now stands and moves on his own two feet, continuing to show the world that he can do anything.
“With his walking, he has to work twice as hard as anyone else to do what they are doing. When he walks a mile it’s like walking two for anyone else, but his determination to keep going is the one thing we constantly see.”
Riley learned how to pose for photos with the help of Zebedee Management.
Zebedee Management specializes in working with models who have disabilities. Founders, Zoe and Laura, wanted to give those with disabilities opportunities that they simply weren’t presented with otherwise.
Their website states:
“…disability has often been left out of the diversity debate, and we often receive casting calls looking for ‘diversity’, but with no mention of disability. Disability seems to be the last taboo – however we want to change this. We want it to be the norm that advertising using people with disabilities becomes commonplace.”
This approach gives others like Riley a chance to shine in ways they might not have been able to if it weren’t for companies like Zebedee Management.
For Riley, that meant using his infectious smile to land him the gig of a lifetime.
“We have called him ‘Smiley Riley’ from a young age, because he makes people really happy and seeing his smile gives people a pick-me-up on a bad day,” his father said.
“…he loves the camera, you say pose and he will make this little pout followed by sticking his tongue out,” he added.
It’s amazing to see those with Down Syndrome given the same opportunities as those without the condition. It shows anyone can achieve their wildest dreams with support and love.
“Riley is getting so much out of life and whenever he accomplishes something it seems that little bit extra special knowing how much harder he had to work for it.”
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