A photographer from Linwood, New Jersey, decided to produce a series of photographs of children that all have one thing in common—they have been diagnosed with Down syndrome, a genetic condition that arises with the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21.
Photographer Julie Willson has always wanted to capture the beauty of children with Down syndrome, as her sister, Dina, was born with the condition. Growing up, Julie believes her life has been “greatly blessed” with her sister, Dina, around.
“Dina was the best thing that could have ever happened to our family,” Julie wrote, reports BoredPanda. “She taught us what true unconditional love is and how to go through life without worries. She would light up any room that she walked into, and people were always drawn to her sweet yet stubborn personality.”
Wow, I don't think I've ever posted a photo of myself on here or officially introduced myself. So here I am. For those…
Sadly, Dina passed away in January 2011 at the age of 35 due to congestive heart failure. “When I think back, my mind automatically goes to my childhood memories with her,” she wrote. “Good memories with her.”
Julie’s motivation behind her photographs of children with Down syndrome is to help others understand and appreciate people with the condition and see them for their beauty.
“I wanted to be able to turn my photo ideas into art that would capture the true beauty of those with special needs. Nothing brings me more joy than being around those who have Down Syndrome. Everything about them makes me smile,” she wrote.
She wanted to “change minds.”
— Daily Mail Femail (@Femail) October 20, 2015
As one would expect, the photoshoot on Oct. 11, 2015, brought back many fond memories of Dina to Julie’s mind.
“Some of the kids were happy as ever, some overwhelmed, some naughty and some stubborn,” she told The Mighty. “These are all the adjectives that I think of when I think of my sister… There were a few times that I looked over to see my mom with tears in her eyes and a smile on her face as she reminisced of my sister being that small.”
After this memorable photoshoot, Julie was informed by one of the mothers that “the abortion rate of those who find out that their child may have Down Syndrome is at 92%.”
More than four decades ago, Julie’s parents were recommended to put Dina in a “home” after her birth. But fortunately, her parents are saints, who “gave their all to make sure their special needs child lived a life full of happiness,” she wrote.
“Today, parents receiving their child’s diagnosis during pregnancy are often offered to terminate their pregnancy due to Down syndrome and those receiving the diagnosis after birth are told of all the negatives of their child’s future instead of the positives,” she explained to Huffington Post.
According to appalling statistics, 67–85 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted in the United States, 90 percent in the United Kingdom, 98 percent in Denmark, and 100 percent in Iceland.
Through the series of photos with 11 adorable kids with Down syndrome, Julie also hopes to tell people that having a baby with the condition is not as scary as they perceive.
“They will be blessed beyond words,” she stressed.
“If you are that person who is going through the emotional roller coaster of just finding out, please know that you are about to encounter a love that surpasses all of your expectations,” she wrote.
As a matter of fact, according to a study published in the April issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A, a child with Down syndrome can bring about positive contributions to each family, aside from the challenges.
“These families were overwhelming happy and content,” lead researcher Dr. Brian Skotko, co-director of the Down syndrome program at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, told Chicago Tribune. “And many felt their lives have been enriched.”
These are some of the most beautiful faces I have ever seen <3Parents, please feel free to tag yourself and share your child's picture but please do not crop or alter in any way 🙂
To change the world’s perception toward Down syndrome, which is often perceived as negative, Julie, a mother of three, went on co-founding a non-profit called Nothing Down with Shannon Daughtry, one of the mothers from the photo shoot.
Julie told The Epoch Times in an email that she and Shannon “take a photo of these same 11 kids each fall to show how they have grown.”
Check out Julie’s gorgeous album above! Each beautiful portrait has a positive story to tell.
Watch the video: