A Sutton mum and her three year old daughter star in a viral campaign to change perceptions of people with Down's Syndrome
Jossie May Stone, 3, was born with Down's Syndrome, and Jossie’s mum, Stephanie, 44, wants to change how people view children with Down’s Syndrome in a video that will be released on October 4.
Stephanie is backing the #wouldntchangeathing social media campaign, that aims to show the joy that children with Down’s Syndrome bring to family life on a backdrop of ever-increasing screening and termination for the condition.
Stephanie, who lives on Charnwood Street, Sutton, with Jossie May, her husband Brian, her son Micah, 4, and teenage daughter Nyah, said: “We want people to see that our children are awesome and different, I hate the word 'disability'".
“My 20 week scan revealed heart, spine and brain queries, which could have been a number of conditions.
“After that I had no further testing as it wouldn’t have changed the outcome of my pregnancy.
“Jossie May was confirmed to have Down's Syndrome at three days old.
“We sobbed, we were heartbroken.
“I have to say, it felt like I was being told my child was dying.
However, after speaking to another doctor the next day, Stephanie realised that the diagnosis was not as bleak as she first thought.
“It’s so important to give parents the chance to see what Down's Syndrome is like - I wish I’d met a Jossie girl then, my thoughts would have been much more positive!
Jossie attends Carousel under fives preschool on Lammas Road, which Stephanie says have been very supportive.
The teachers have learned basic sign language to communicate with Jossie, and are eager to learn more.
Stephanie said: “ My main mission is for people to see it’s a gift, not a burden.
“I could use a million words to describe this girl - she is feisty, fierce, happy and wonderful!
“I was worried she wouldn’t be accepted but the community here have accepted her, when we’re out shopping in Sutton the shopkeepers know Jossie.
“The societal perceptions are outdated, they’re the same as two or three decades ago.
“The life expectancy for people with Down's Syndrome is around 65 now, and 30 years ago that was very different.
“Instead of shutting people with Down's Syndrome away in institutions, people have realised we need to treat them differently, with different ways of teaching.
“People with Down's Syndrome are now living independent happy lives!"
The hashtag #wouldntchangeathing was trending in March when the video "50 mums, 50 kids, 1 extra chromosome" reached 4.7 million views.
The group behind the video has now formed a charity, Wouldn’t Change a Thing, to challenge outdated perceptions.
The video shows families of children with Down's Syndrome singing and signing along to Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” in their cars.
The initiative sparked schools across the nation to learn to sign, a government petition to introduce signing in schools and was even shown at the Queen’s Birthday celebrations in Abu Dhabi.
Now, a follow up is being released on October 4.
Although the contents are top-secret, the new video promises to be just as heartwarming as the first, and will involve singing and signing again.
The video and the charity behind it, Wouldn’t Change a Thing, state that they want to "create a world where negative, outdated perceptions of Down’s Syndrome become a thing of the past."
90% of prenatally diagnosed babies with Down’s Syndrome are terminated, a figure that the charity would like to see reduced.
Jamie McCallum, Chairman of Wouldn’t Change a Thing said: “The lives of people with Down’s Syndrome have changed immeasurably over the last few decades, but society’s perceptions have failed to keep up. Living happy, independent, working lives can be a reality now and research proves that families are happier for having the condition in their lives. But if no-one tackles society’s outdated perceptions of Down’s Syndrome then less families, schools and workplaces will experience the wonderful value that it can bring. So that’s what we’re trying to show the world - one set of eyeballs at a time!”
Stephanie added: "We're really exited for the video, It's a bit of a tear-jerker and it really shows how awesome our children are."
“Jossie is nothing I had perceived before and she is everything that’s good.”