There is a stigma against people with special needs that often prevents them from receiving the same level of attention and accreditation as others; thankfully, times are changing, and frontrunners like 7-year-old Grace Isabella Wharton are paving the way for a new generation that shows people with special needs are just like everyone else, even if their brains and looks are a bit different.
Grace is a modelShe is a bright, bubbly blonde 7-year-old with a grin that can light up any room. She also has Down syndrome.
She is currently signed with the agency Zebedee Management, which has over 300 clients with special needs. Children and adults with Down syndrome and other mental disabilities are often considered the outliers of society.
While familiarity is the first step toward acceptance and, ultimately, inclusion, we need more exposure for people with Down’s Syndrome to truly become welcomed and celebrated members of society. Their differences make them unique, and Grace is showing people one photoshoot at a time that people with Down syndrome are just as valid as anyone else.
Grace has modeled for Disney, CBeebies and BBC since she was signed. It all started when her mom took her to a photo shoot for people with disabilities. To see Grace featured in ad campaigns that have nothing to do with Down syndrome is refreshing; rather than using her solely to raise a greater conversation about her condition, Grace’s presence in major advertisements normalizes the presence of people with Down syndrome in everyday life.
They may need help at times, but people with Down syndrome can still lead active, fulfilling lives and contribute to their communities in meaningful ways “Grace has been through a lot since she was born. She has had some major surgeries, but she’s never been really ill”, Cheryl said.
Grace still struggles with poor muscle tone, so she has trouble making the sounds needed to form words. “It is very important for us to get the message across that she is just a little girl who happens to have Down Syndrome. It’s no big deal, she is a feisty little girl and will always just be our daughter,” Cheryl said.
Cheryl’s father, John, added, “She’s always come through everything that she was faced with She’s our little fighter.”
This article was originally published on apost.com.