A 2018 calendar breaking down stereotypes about Down syndrome

To read on CBC website:

Sask. photographer’s calendar features ‘beautiful, caring, and unique’ kids with Down syndrome

‘Everyone in this world has a place, and a purpose, and that’s the way it should be’

By Rachel Zelniker  Posted: Jan 15, 2018

calendar

The ‘Enchanting Forest’ calendar features the photographs and stories of 12 children living with down syndrome (Submitted by Svitlana Tsybizova)

A Regina photographer is hoping a new calendar will help guide people through 2018 while breaking down stereotypes about Down syndrome.

The ‘Enchanting Forest’ calendar features the photographs and stories of 12 children living with Down syndrome in « order to communicate a very important message: ‘look a little bit closer at people around you, what do you see?' » said Svitlana Tsybizova of Free Lense Photographic.

Tsybizova decided to create the calendar with her husband after confronting her own misconceptions around the condition a few years earlier.

« I was going to photograph a child with Down syndrome, and I suddenly realized I knew nothing, and just like many people the idea that I had was completely wrong. »

She quickly learned that « they’re beautiful, caring, and unique, just like all children, » but was disappointed with others’ reactions when she posted the photos on social media.

« Some of the comments were very encouraging, and some were very cruel. »

That’s when Tsybizova knew she wanted to do more to profile the stories of the children she was photographing — and the idea for the calendar was born.

‘More than a diagnosis’

« Hope is a ham, she loves the camera. Her greatest joy is to come here and perform for Svetlana, » said Stacey Routledge of her seven-year-old daughter Hope, who is one the 12 children included.

Like Tsybizova, Routledge hopes the calendar helps people understand that her daughter is  « more than just a diagnosis.

« Yes, she does have Down syndrome, but she also loves to dance, she loves to make people laugh, and she loves to give people hugs. »

Jake Huber-Flahr

Gavin McIntosh (second from left), Hope Routledge (centre) and Jakeb Huber-Flahr (far right) are three of the 12 children included in the calendar, and they have become close friends in the process. (Submitted by Svitlana Tsybizova)

Routledge said she was ecstatic when she saw the calendar for the first time, adding her daughter never tires of the attention.

« Now whenever we go anywhere, she sees her picture up on the wall and she goes ‘Look mom that’s me,’ and she just has immense pride that she can be so popular, and everyone has pictures of her. She just thinks she’s famous. »

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