Zephaniah The Model: Why Inclusivity Matters

When my daughter was born. I made a subconscious decision not to overshare on social media. I rarely posted pictures of her and preferred to share with family on instant messenger. I always assumed that would apply with any further children also. It did initially. We had a prenatal diagnosis of a Down Syndrome at 20 weeks. We didn’t share that. We hadn’t even shared we were pregnant. We didn’t really share anything until Zephaniah was 13 days old and home from the NICU. We posted a birth announcement and included in there that he had Down Syndrome. When he turned 6 months old I started to feel a desire to write about and share our experiences on raising a child with Down syndrome and how it felt having a prenatal diagnosis so I decided to launch my blog. I realized at that point it would mean sharing more of him online and I actually felt good about that. I had come to realize that it’s important for people to see how genuinely happy our life with him is. I found people also really like to hear how he’s getting on. I wanted people to see Zephy and get to know him as a baby first and that Down syndrome is just a part of him. It doesn’t define him.

Shortly after this, one of my favorite organic children’s clothing companies were looking for ‘brand ambassadors’ for their social media. I applied and Zephy was chosen. Around the same time, I was watching television and saw an interview with two women who had set up a modeling agency here in the UK specifically for children and adults with disabilities. It was a passion of theirs to get adults and children with disabilities included in mainstream media campaigns. The name of the agency is Zebedee Management. I decided to submit Zephaniah’s pictures to them and he was accepted. We were invited to an assessment day with them to see how he got on and he was a natural in front of the camera. He loved the attention and was super smiley.

We have been with Zebedee management almost a year now. We have been to a few castings and had a couple of jobs. His biggest job was for a major UK supermarket and their baby food range. He was featured in their TV commercial. What was great about it was it was truly inclusive and didn’t feel like he was chosen as a ‘token’ baby with a disability. They just chose him alongside all the other babies.

The agency has had had lots of children placed into campaigns for major brands here in the UK.

As I’ve seen the success of the agency grow over the last year, it’s been heartwarming to see more and more people with disabilities popping up on television and in shop ad campaigns.

It’s so important that all of our children are represented in this way.

It’s firstly important for them to see a reflection of themselves. It promotes value and self-worth and confidence. Not only is it important to show inclusivity but also that these jobs and careers are an option for people with disabilities as they are for everyone else.

It’s secondly important for those outside of the community. Our kids are out there in the world, in schools and jobs and for some people, it’s their first experience of seeing and interacting with a person who is differently abled. By growing up seeing inclusion in TV and magazine, it normalizes these interactions and hopefully makes people more accepting to those different to themselves.

With termination rates so high in prenatal diagnoses, being exposed to images of children with Down syndrome alongside their typical peers will hopefully show people that they are not just a label or a list of bleak medical conditions which is often what is presented to them.

I want people to know that they do not need to fear a baby with Down syndrome. That the day to day reality is nothing like everything I feared when I was pregnant. I want people to see that our kids are capable and able and worthy of a chance at life.

I don’t know whether Zephy has a future career in modeling but I hope that it will give him confidence and I’ll carry on with it unless he chooses to stop when he gets older. It’s great fun and we have met some wonderful people in our journey so far! Not to mention having some great pictures done!!!!

Our modeling agency

Sainsbury’s advert

Sarah Ojar

Sarah is a wife and mother to two children, both with curls, one with an extra chromosome. Blogger and advocate for Down syndrome.

 

Sarah Ojar- Chromosomes and Curls

 

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Zephaniah the Model: Why Inclusivity Matters. Why putting our babies with Down syndrome "out there" for the public to see as people of worth is so important

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