WELLINGTON COUNTY – For the last seven years, the Waterloo Wellington Down Syndrome Society (WWDSS) has collaborated with local photographer, Hilary Gauld Camilleri, to bring national awareness and learning to communities for children and adults with Down syndrome.
This year’s project, “Believe With Me,” highlights the goals and dreams of 51 children and adults in their daily lives, through a series of black and white portraits and thought-provoking quotes from participants and parents.
These thoughts and feelings clearly reflect the desires and excitements that people of all abilities share at the same ages and stages of life, organizers note.
“I love music and I’ve been learning to play the piano for three years – I know how to read the notes and I can play lots of songs. I want to take my first exam in about a year so I will have to practice really hard. When I learn a new song, I feel proud and excited,” stated Noelle, age 7.
“I love to do water sports behind my dad’s boat. I can do wake boarding, tubing and cool body surfing on a surfboard. I hope someday to actually stand up on the surfboard and surf like my brother and dad behind the boat. It’s a lot harder but I think I can do it,” states Colin, age 26.
“I will graduate from high school in two years. My goal is to go to college, so I can learn how to run a wedding boutique,” says Maggie, age 19.
“Zach is driven to improve his mobility and strength. He admires his older brother so much and it’s clear he would love to engage in more active play with him. Zach is working hard in physiotherapy sessions to build the strength to crawl and pull up to standing. He looks forward to learning how to walk so he can chase his brother and dog around,” say Carla and David, parents to Zach, age 14 months.
“I love to kayak and really enjoy being on the water. I love the freedom I have now that I can go on my own. I started off a little slow, but now try and catch me. Maybe one day you’ll see my name at the Olympics – by then I should be able to lift the kayak out of the water by myself,” says Ashlan, age 14.
“Kimberly is learning how to write her name. She practices almost every day and is now able to write the letters I and M really well. She is working hard on the letter K and is always so proud and happy to show us with her every attempt,” state Amber and Greg, parents to Kimberly, age 4.
“I like to play golf. Coach Dave is helping me with my swing because I want to be a really good golfer when I am an adult. I also want my future girlfriend to be impressed with how I play,” states Kaleb, age 15.
Each year, the project aims to break down stereotypes and strives to educate and re-frame the ideas and perceptions that surround children and adults with Down syndrome. This annual advocacy project has attracted attention worldwide and continues to make a lasting impact in our local community.
Canadian Down Syndrome Week this year falls Oct. 24 to 31, 2021 and the WWDSS 2022 calendar will be available for presale on Sept. 26 at www.wwdss.ca.
“Keep an eye out for WWDSS’s social media campaign throughout the month of October and join in sharing this project and believing with these incredible humans,” organizers urge.
To see a sample of the images from ‘Believe With Me’ visit https://oneforthewall.shootproof.com/gallery/16001131/.