October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and for this reason, we are marking this very special cause by giving real-life examples of some extraordinary people who, even with their extra chromosome they have made, and are making, the world a better place, proving just how much they are down…right perfect.
Their infectious smile, their resilience, and their never-die-attitude have landed them on this list. Thus, this list is not only a token of appreciation and celebration but it is also a source of acknowledgment towards these sedulous individuals.
We cannot start this piece off without mentioning one of our most favourite persons! The young Maltese model has over six thousand followers on Instagram and at the shy age of four, she already had the opportunity to work with an Australian model in a fashion show in Malta. Francesca also managed to snatch the opportunity to feature as a model for a clothing shop in a Gozo shopping complex. She was also featured on Metro and People Magazine!
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Four-year-old Francesca Rausi, who has Down syndrome, was all smiles as she strutted down the catwalk at a fashion show for models with disabilities. 💕 Her mother said that her daughter would like to become a professional model one day and hopes that Francesca will raise awareness about Down syndrome. Tap the bio link for her heartwarming story. ✨ | 📷: Courtesy Michelle Rausi
In December 2019, Francesca also managed to win the title of Miss Little Christmas which was her first-ever title. And since forever, she has managed to make everyone fall in love with her! Down Syndrome is part of her identity but it does not define her, that’s for sure!
The twenty-six-year-old dancer from Rabat, Malta has been breaking stereotypes through the world of dance and her commitment as a kitchen assistant with CareMalta. Maria is living an independent life and with the support of her mother she strives to improve on a daily basis.
In 2018, Artivisti funded a dance video, in which Maria participated, when she danced with the dance tutor Kostas Papamatthaikis which went viral on Facebook.
Apart from dancing, Maria loves cooking and baking in her free time in-between work, Zumba sessions, Girl Guide activities and dance.
The thirty-five-year-old actor got his first big break at a camp in Vermont where he met two filmmakers who were working on a movie where the main character was a man with down syndrome. In this movie, Gottsagen worked with some big stars such as Dakota Johnson, Shia LaBeouf and Jonathan Edward Bernthal.
The movie ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’ grossed over 20 million in the United States and to great reviews. Gottsagen went on to work on two other movies and he also had the opportunity to be the first person with down syndrome to present an Oscar nomination for ‘Best Live-Action’.
Dakota Johnson went on to compare Gottsagen’s personality to a tiger; explaining that he was brutally honest throughout his time on set and did not have any brittle facades covering up his true intentions.
Isabella Springmuhl Tejada
Isabella is a fashion designer from Guatemala who at the young age of 19 had the opportunity to showcase her chic fashion line at London Fashion Week in 2016. Later that year, Tejada was also listed as one of the BBC 100 Women. Her clothing line ‘Down to Xjabella’ has its own website, from which people all around the world can buy her garments.
Although her clothing line is for everyone, Isabella has underlined the fact that marketing brands do not target people with down syndrome, and with this clothing line, she is making sure to hit every checkpoint which other retailers seem to miss. Clothes are usually too baggy or too child-like and Isabella is breaking every possible stereotype to make other people with down-syndrome feel included and part of society. Isabella has been inspired by the Guatemalan culture and its rich traditional textiles and fabric and she is still to this day honing her craft while building her dream boutique.
Making her television debut on the critically acclaimed horror anthology ‘American Horror Story’, Jamie Brewer quickly rose to fame after her impeccable performance. In an interview with Adam Lawton, Brewer spoke about how flabbergasted she was when she found out she got the role.
‘To my surprise, I got the part. Nonetheless, I was so excited.’ Jamie also uncovered the fact that playing the complex role of ‘Adelaide’ was super tough since she had to ‘portray someone who isn’t always viewed as acceptable by her mother and society.’
Brewer also fought for the Texas legislation to omit the ‘R’ word and introduce the term ‘Intellectual Developmental Disability’. She has been vocal about her stance. ‘Don’t limit us. Don’t limit me,’ is one of her constant mottos. In 2018, Brewer was also the first person with down syndrome to win a Drama Desk award.
This is just a compact list of hardworking people who are representing millions of other individuals. It should be a no-brainer that people with down syndrome have every right to vote, contribute to society, work, and engage in meaningful relationships. It is our duty as citizens to make them feel included and have a sense of belonging because together we can thrive and function as a multi-dynamic unit!