To read on The DailyMail website:
Meet the mother and her adorable four-year-old who are ‘changing the face of beauty’ by calling for more ads to include children with disabilities
When 39-year-old mother, Kathryn Driscoll, from Palos Park, Chicago discovered four years ago that her sixth child and only daughter would be born with Down syndrome, she was shocked and scared.
But the proud mom of four-year-old Grace quickly rallied and now, with the help of her daughter and a host of others, she wants to ease the discomfort society has towards people with disabilities.
With this in mind, she launched the Changing the Face of Beauty campaign last year with her friend Steve English – an online gallery of kids and young adults with disabilities who are available to appear in advertisements.
Their mission is simple: ‘Our world is a visual world and our goal is to show the world how beautiful these individuals are. We feel it is important for all people to be included in advertising.’
The website has been flooded with submissions and requests from around the world since its launch last Fall, and around 30 children and young adults have now featured in ads, mostly for clothing companies.
‘Sometimes I feel like we as a disability community preach to each other. I wanted to show the world how more alike than different my daughter is. I believe imagery is the one way to do that,’ she explains to MailOnline, before adding that she learns things from these ‘inspiring’ children that she never would anywhere else.
Mrs Driscoll’s big endeavor all grew out of some adorable home photos she took of Grace.
‘I taught myself photography after my daughter was born,’ she reveals. ‘I decided to really dig deep into the art. It became addicting, and now you will rarely see me anywhere without my camera.’
Mrs Driscoll began sharing the impressive photos on her blog, 5 boys + 1 girl = 6, and with various business owners who she hoped might want Grace in their advertising campaigns, and the response was overwhelming.
It was Mr English, who first featured Grace in the catalog for his Chicago-based flower shop’s fair-trade clothing line, who encouraged her to seek out other children and join him to launch the Changing the Face of Beauty campaign.
What with the company, her own professional photography business, and being the mother of six children, Mrs Driscoll certainly has her hands full. She home schools Grace, as well as sons Ryan, eight, and Colin, five, who have also struggled with learning in the past, with guidance from the National Association for Child Development – a program she says holds an extremely high bar.
‘When I received my prenatal diagnosis I knew I wanted to be different. I wanted to give my daughter the best possible chance,’ she explains. ‘I found this program and knew the success rate they had with all types of children. I never have to worry about them underestimating my kids.’
According to a recent study, just 44 per cent of adults aged between 21 and 64 with an intellectual disability are in the labor force, compared to 83 per cent of those without disabilities. Mrs Driscoll believes that society’s false perceptions are at the root of that disparity.
In terms of her daughter’s future, Mrs Driscoll writes on her website that she knows exactly what she wants for Grace: ‘We dream for her the same way we dream for her brothers. We strive for independence and employment. We hope she develops a passion for something that makes her really happy.’
‘We don’t even see that tiny extra chromosome most days. We see her smile and her feisty personality. We think she is beautiful.’
Beautiful indeed. The crystal-blue-eyed little girl has starred in over 40 ad campaigns, including one for actress Tori Spelling’s Little Maven children’s clothing line last year.
She credits her husband Tom, an attorney, with keeping her busy show on the road, as well as a ‘confident’ babysitter. ‘I could not do what I do without these two components,’ she says.
At the end of the day, Mrs Driscoll is just happy to be blessed with such a happy family. ‘We have the opportunity to raise both boys and a girl,’ she says.
‘We have the opportunity to look at the world through unfiltered glasses.’