October marks the start of Down Syndrome Awareness Month – the chance to celebrate those with the condition and make the world aware of all the amazing abilities and accomplishments within the Down’s community.
Over the years, social media has become an essential tool for spreading awareness and understanding. Every day millions of people around the world are able to share their stories while educating the general public – showing what the incredible individuals with Down syndrome can do and achieve.
One of the most visible faces of Down syndrome is Madeline Stuart, a 19-year-old Australian woman who is taking the modelling world by storm. The star, who has previously walked in New York Fashion Week, announced this week that she had secured two new modelling contracts. She is now the new face of American fitness brand Manifesta and label everMaya.
Madeline’s modelling career first began after her mum posted her modelling portfolio online. Soon after, Madeline career and social media presence skyrocketed and she now has more than 135k followers online. She frequently writes about inclusion and acceptance on her pages, and has described modeling as “a way to express myself when words don’t always come easy.”
Also hitting the catwalk earlier this year was American Horror Story actress Jamie Brewer. Jamie said of the experience: “If we put our hearts into it, the fashion industry, any industry — our lives will be changed in the process and the world will be changed as well.”
But it’s not just the ladies that are gaining the followers; two year old Micah has gained more than 50,000 followers on Instagram thanks to his gorgeous smile and adorable adventures.
His mum, model Amanda Booth, set up the account Life with Micah when she realised she could use Instagram as a platform to educate other families on what life was like with the condition. Micah was diagnosed with Down’s when he was three months old and Amanda has admitted that at first she was worried about all the ‘scary possibilities’ her baby might face. However she credits the community spirit on platforms like Instagram for helping her to understand the condition.
“I read things that were just words on the Internet about Down syndrome,” Booth has said “but with social media you can connect with people and actually see what these babies are capable of doing. It made everything seem really light instead of really heavy.”
She added,”Our little man is so freaking incredible, I literally forget that he has [Down syndrome],” she said.
“I don’t think about it, worry about it, or track his progress. We just live our lives and he is our son. Maybe there will come a day that it’s more ‘apparent’, but for now, that’s us.”
Another Instagram star bringing new awareness to Down syndrome is Jimbo is the Man a non-verbal man with Down syndrome who is described in his bio as “54 and Rockin’ the Extra Chromosome.”
Although Jimbo can’t speak, his hilarious and energetic videos have earned him thousands of fans. His account, run by his sisters and nieces, is considered one of the most important online accounts available, as many older adults with Down syndrome are rarely given a platform.
In turn, Jimbo’s sister Pam blogged that Jimbo’s fans have given him and his family just as much as they have received. “The families that we have found through this community have inspired us more than you all will know. If our parents could have had the connections that we all have today, they may not have felt alone in their journey.”
Have you got a favourite online account that helps to raise awareness for Down’s? Let us know the accounts you love over on our Twitter and Facebook!