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July 27, 2020

Ambassadors


Amelia

Amelia is 5 years old and is a little social butterfly. She is a very outgoing and communicative little girl. She loves meeting people and she lights up a room wherever she goes. We find people are just drawn to her and the positive effect she has on them is an absolute joy to watch. A cuddle from Amelia has and can transform someone’s mood. She is gorgeous, cheeky, hilarious, clever and just an amazing little girl, who sends out such a positive perception of Down syndrome every single day.

Amelia loves to spend time with family and friends and usually ends up being centre of attention as she is a little performer. She loves going out, reading books, singing and signing songs and dancing.

Amelia had a very exciting lockdown last year. She was one of 100 finalists chosen by the Duchess of Cambridge in the #holdstill2020 project and 1 of only 6 photos shown to her Majesty the Queen. As a result Amelia was on all media platforms all over the world and was on billboards around the UK.

Amelia also appeared in a Gary Barlow video, has had a lot of support from Gaby Roslin and was involved in different WCAT projects.

Amelia attends mainstream school which she loves. She was also recently invited to join A Special Face Modelling Agency so watch this space!

Amelia has taught us so much in her short life. She spreads love and joy wherever she goes and asks for very little in return. She accepts everyone for who they are and holds no prejudices. Amelia May changes attitudes every single day just by being her.

The icing on the cake however, has been finding out that Amelia has been chosen to stay on as a WCAT Ambassador. We’re absolutely delighted and look forward to what 2021 brings!

You can follow Amelia on her Social Media by using the following links:


Jordan Grace

Introducing our incredible ambassador Jordan Grace from Arizona in the words of her mother.

“At twenty weeks pregnant our world collapsed when we found out our baby on the way had a heart defect, and that it was correlated with Down syndrome.

The genetics doctor was very negative and pushed for abortion twice. My heart was broken! According to him, our baby would never be able to feed or dress herself, she would be a burden to us and to society and most likely end up in an institution. The next few months of pregnancy were dark, I spent most days crying and begging God to heal her. I was scared to have this baby that wouldn’t be able to do anything. I had never known anyone with Down syndrome, so I believed the doctor.

Our Jordan Grace will be seven years old this year. She is such a light to this dark world, she is the example of who we all shall aspire to be. She loves her life, she lives each moment to the fullest, plays hard and loves even harder. She notices all the things in life we take for granted, enjoys the journey as much as the destination. She brings so much joy to our family and to strangers equally! We joined this secret society we never knew about, God healed me, he healed my heart and gave us a great gift from heaven we never knew we wanted.

Jordan Grace is a happy go lucky girl, she’s ambitious, stubborn, hilarious, joyful, compassionate, loving, feisty, strong, she’s amazing! There’s so many things she has accomplished in her young age. The doctor was completely wrong, she does dress and feed herself, she learned how to read at four years old, she is in school and loved, respected and supported.

I share our story because it pains me to think of all those mothers who went to that same doctor and left without their precious baby. My heart hurts for all those little lives whose doctors and parents didn’t see their worth. Jordan Grace is changing lives every single day ❤”.

You can follow Jordan Grace on her Social Media using the following links:


Caleb

‘Hi everyone – this is Caleb! He’s an energetic 13-year-old living in Jacksonville, Florida, USA. Always on the move, he is a student, an athlete, a cook, model, dancer, and most importantly, a loved family member. Caleb is in 8th grade at his school and he participates in clubs and after-school events, including Special Olympics.

Caleb loves to cook, and can be found most evenings helping Dad out in the kitchen at home, or helping Mom learn how to cook. He does a FB Live each Friday on his Page where we make fun and easy recipes. He has been on the Cooking Stage at the Southern Women’s Show with Dad – “Cooking with Caleb” and was on the Today Show (Jan 2020) featuring the cooking kit program Raddish Kids. He also has his own You Tube. Since COVID, he’s led a number of groups in cooking events via Zoom.

Caleb enjoys modeling and traveling. He loves his family and is passionate about giving back to his church and community. “Let’s Do It” is his motto, and not much stands in his way!’

You can follow Caleb on his Social Media using the following links:

You can also find Caleb on TikTok:

Calebs Crew


River

Introducing the one and only River!

A whirlwind of fun, mischief and determination. River lives in Tanzania, right at the bottom of Mt Kilimanjaro. He attends an international school where he was the first person with additional needs and the only student with Down syndrome. He loves school and is very loved by both the students and his teachers.

He loves sports and is extremely active. His favourite things are cars, his pets, travel, the beach, hiking, swimming and Power Rangers. He also loves watching Jamie Oliver cooking shows and is always “helping” in the kitchen. River also has a farm and it’s his favourite place in the world. His favourite pastimes by far are his jobs on the farm, riding the tractor and spending time with his animals.

He is proving his worth every single day, just by living his life and being himself ❤

You can follow River on his Social Media using the following links:


Kush

‘Please welcome Kush, Kush is the most amazing boy. To know him is to love him. He has an adorable cheeky smile, a brilliant sense of humour and is kind to everyone he meets. He enjoys basketball, cooking, his ipad, reading and school. He loves playing with his siblings and cousins. He won’t judge you, is accepting, heartbreakingly kind and works so hard. He is someone to be proud of and any parent would be blessed to have him as their child.

He deserves to be treated with the same love, decency and respect we’d expect for any child.My sister invests a lot of time and effort using social media to break down negative perceptions of people with Down syndrome and encourage acceptance and opportunity to ensure a better life for her son and other people living with Down syndrome.’

You can follow Kush on his Social Media using the following links:


Bertie

‘Meet Bertie Baxter, aged 14 months. Bertie gained a little bit of notoriety when he was featured on BBC 1’s Life and Birth.

Bertie was born 4 weeks early and spent the next few months in hospital, having his heart repaired. But that is such a small part of his journey we don’t like to dwell on it too much, and would rather tell you about how wonderful our lives have become since Bertie popped into them. Bertie has this magical aura about him and people are drawn to him!

We look forward to being a part of the WCAT ambassador team.’


Pippa

‘Pippa is 14, nearly 15, and we live in the south west of England. She has two younger siblings and attends mainstream secondary school where her favourite subjects are PE, music and agriculture.

Pippa loves to perform and loves taking part in different activities – she’s always up for a new challenge and with the right support and encouragement, has taken part in things ranging from stand up paddle boarding to high ropes, pony shows to singing solos for theatre school and archery to Girl Guiding.

We became part of the Wouldn’t Change A Thing family about eighteen months ago and would like to think that we have made a valid contribution during that time. We have been involved in two campaigns and regularly send materials when requested for various social media projects. I also wrote a blog for WCAT and intend to do more in the future.’

You can follow Pippa on her Social Media using the following links:


Carlson

‘Meet Carlson Aged 3, his family want the world to see how proud we are of him rocking his extra chromosome like a boss!

We share the WCAT beliefs that diversity is important to represent the whole range of people /children with Down syndrome as it is as varied as ‘ typical’ ( not my favourite description) developing children. Everyone is worthy and valued.

We want Carlson to challenge negative perceptions and he is already smashing his learning and winning the hearts of all those who meet him. He has taught many people who had no experience of Down syndrome in their lives that he is a worthy member of society and he has added so much love and sparkle into those lives. He is adored by all people in his life and they no longer fear the ‘unknown’. We as a family would welcome anyone wanting to learn more to ask questions and to not be afraid to talk and engage with the Down syndrome community. Carlson was a shock diagnosis and we didn’t know just how special that ‘shock’ gift would become.

His siblings adore him and he has added so much to their lives – they have learnt lots of things not taught in a classroom. I honestly believe they grow with more empathy, compassion, understanding and kindness and what world doesn’t need that.

Carlson is a popular classmate in nursery and is starting in a new class January to prepare him for school. He particularly enjoys playing with water, sand, dinosaurs and anything messy! He is trying his best to communicate using Makaton which he learns pretty well and sings as much as he can. He loves music and dancing.

He has taken part in several amazing WCAT projects and was also in the Down with Disney photo shoot with Nicole Louise photography where he was the cutest little Maui with his co star the gorgeous Moana (Aisha).

Carlson is a model alongside his brother Clayton for the Zebedee Talent agency. He loves posing and having his photos taken. He is proud to represent the agency trying to bring disabilities into mainstream modelling and entertainment industry. Representation matters, so children and adults can see people like themselves are included and celebrated.

He is a typical cheeky toddler and I want the world to experience the joy he brings to our family. He has shown us courage and been brave when facing some really tough times and he is only 3. He actually helped me through deep depression just by being him. A tiny human can have so much impact.

He is a proud member of the WCAT family and is so honoured to have been asked to be ambassador this year. He is ready to show the world the beauty and amazing gift Down syndrome can bring.’

You can follow Carlson on his Social Media by using the following links:


Isabella & Lucus

‘Hi I’m Isabella from Isabella Signs. I started Isabella Signs to be able to communicate with my little brother Lucus who has Down syndrome. I saw how much signing was helping Lucus and felt like there were probably a lot of people in similar situations that it could help.

Lucus, who is 8, has modelled for huge companies such as Marks & Spencer’s, Joules and many more. He has been in store windows all across the world! We are so so proud of him.

I have nearly half a million followers across my Isabella Signs platforms, 238k of those on Tik Tok! We also have some famous followers such as Louis Tomlinson, Calum Best, The Vamps, Andy Day and more. We love working with Wouldn’t Change a Thing and are really honoured to have been asked to be sibling ambassadors!’

You can follow Isabella on her Social Media by using the following links:

Isabella is also on TikTok, click here to take a look.

You can follow Lucus by using the following links:


Katherine & Sam

‘Meet Katherine and Sam.

Katherine is 32 and Sam is 35. They are a married couple who have been living together in their own place since 2017, marrying the following year. They both have paid jobs – Katherine as a salon assistant and Sam for a Logistics firm. They both also work as volunteers.

Katherine and Sam are keen on the performing arts and have both had paid acting roles via VisAble agency. They also had their home turned into a film set for a social care training video which they both acted in.

When life returns to a level of normal, they are looking forward to returning to their active social lives, enjoying restaurants and theatre trips. They are keen and accomplished Ballroom and Latin dancers. They very much believe that people with Downs Syndrome can do anything if they are given the opportunity and that everyone deserves to make their own choices and express their opinions.

When asked if they wanted to apply to be Ambassadors Sam said “yes because they (WCAT) want everyone to know what we can do” which is exactly right.’


Liam

‘Liam is a handsome, cheeky, outgoing, adventurous, stubborn yet extremely loving 16 year old.

He has achieved some level of success in everything he has attempted which is purely down to his determination to achieve. His favourite hobbies are singing, dancing, drama, bike riding and reading, he is a very sociable young man and loves being the centre of attention which has involved him dancing at various venues around the North of GB with his dance group Dancestars, including performing on stage for the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics and at The City Hall to celebrate 50 years of Scouting. Liam is an active member of our local Riding for the Disabled and adores his horse, Bailey – together they have both won several rosettes for Dressage and Country Trails competitions. They were due to ride for team GB in Liverpool for the Special Olympics 2021 but this has sadly been cancelled due to Covid.

A few years ago Nicole Louise Perkins began an awareness/ celebration campaign called ‘Down with Disney’ which was a massive success, this year she added villains and asked Liam to be Hades. Liam adored taking part, the makeup, costumes and posing in front of the camera.

Liam has also walked for several designers in various fashion shows, the latest was for ‘Be unique be you’ at Liverpool Fashion Week 2019 and is currently represented by the Model/Acting agency VisABLE.

His confident attitude sends out positive perceptions of just what children with Down syndrome can achieve and he loves his life and lives every moment to the fullest, he is a true inspiration and he brings so much love and joy to our family, friends and even strangers with his infectious smile.

We were absolutely delighted when we found out that he had been chosen to be a WCAT Ambassador for 2021 and look forward to help spread the positive achievements that Down syndrome isn’t a barrier to achieving anything.’

You can follow Liam on his Social Media using the following links:


Laura

‘Hello, my name is Laura and I am 33 years old even though I don’t look it!

I love fashion, makeup and all things girly. I especially love performing. After performing for most of my life, particularly over the last decade; I have played leading roles in Oliver Twist, Scrooge and The Sound of Music at a local theatre group, I even got a personal video message from Jodie Prenger who plays Nancy in Oliver on the West End. I changed my stage from local theatres to social media and have quickly gained 25,000 followers on TikTok performing with my sister Sam, who also loves to perform. Our TikTok is @sisterwarriors and we would love it if you checked it out. We do a lot of comedy videos and those are my favourite because life is about having fun. We try to focus the videos on my personality instead of my disability and I love that because I feel like people see past my extra chromosome and see the real me.

After going through school, I learned that I loved retail, I even won the young enterprise of the year award. After that, I went to college to study business and retail and after multiple failed attempts at getting a job, I decided to start my own business. Serendipity ran successfully selling fashion and accessories from 2011 to 2020. I even had my own stall in our local shopping centre. Unfortunately due to the current global pandemic, I had to close my business. I chose to look at this in a positive light as not everyone does the same thing for their whole lives – sometimes people with disabilities are not given the option to change their course in life. I am so happy that I get to continue to break barriers and I got to change my focus in life to something else I love in TikTok.

I learned so much from running my business and it gave me the opportunity to travel, give speeches about my achievements and educate others on the abilities of people with disabilities. I even travelled to Belfast to be a key speaker at the disability and employment conference and won the wellbeing enterprise business of the year award in 2016. Now I get to share that message wider with a growing social media platform.

In my personal life, I enjoy spending time doing crafts. I make my own cards and I love to bake, especially tasting what I’ve made. I adore going out for meals and drinks with my friends – having a glass of wine and a good chat with friends is one of my favourite things to do. I also enjoy spending time relaxing and having a good pamper with my good friend, personal assistant and respite carer Barbara.

I grew up in a very loving and supportive family. I live with my Mum, Yvonne and my Dad, Julian. I also have 4 other siblings, Leanne, Sarah, Daniel and Sam. Even though they have moved out of our home and have their own partners, they are always there to support me in all that I do. My Mum is my biggest cheerleader – she has always fought for the best for me and encouraged me to be the best version of me. She has been my rock through my 2 open heart surgeries and was by my side the entire time. My Mum works with me to be independent and that has allowed me to grow into the successful woman I am today. My sister Sam is my PA and my TikTok partner and I love that we get to spend so much time together, I love being around her and her partner Kev because we always have so much fun.

My goals for 2021 is to gain more followers on TikTok and share joy. Hopefully, we get some normality back from what has been a very unsettled 2020. I am glad I get to be part of the Wouldn’t Change a Thing campaign, and as an ambassador I will do my upmost to ensure the success and promotion of an amazing group. I can’t wait for what 2021 has in store.’

You can follow Laura on her Social Media by using the following links:

Laura is also on TikTok, click here to take a look.


Olivia

My name is Olivia. I am 28 years old, I have an older brother George, and sister Hannah and a younger sister, Alice. I have a nephew Teddy who’s 3, and a niece Lily, who’s 1.

Until the arrival of COVID and the subsequent lockdowns, I had three jobs – two paid and one voluntary role. I worked as a Food and Beverage Assistant at a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, and as a Kitchen Assistant in a local Tea Cottage. Sadly, I was made redundant from Hilton in October, and gave up my Tea Cottage job recently as it was proving difficult to get to by bus, from my new home in Yate. I am currently furloughed from my Kitchen Assistant role at The University West of England, One Zone cafe/restaurant. I have just celebrated my seven year work Anniversary there, which I am very pleased about!

For almost six years now, I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend, Nino. My Mum says it has been a privilege and a joy to watch our relationship grow and develop over the years. We are now looking towards the future, with plans to get engaged, married and to share a home together – just like anybody else would! Nino’s Mum and my Mum are great friends, and they will ensure that they do everything possible to make our dreams come true.

Let me tell you a little bit more about where I am now. When I left school at eighteen, I went to Foxes Academy in Minehead for three years. I won The Outstanding Learner of the Year Award when I graduated, I was so proud of what I had achieved. I learnt so much about being a Chef and living independently. In my learning, I had to work very hard and pay attention and follow instructions. Sometimes I found this hard, but not often. I lived in a flat independently, but didn’t like being lonely. I like to be with people and have fun. This year I moved back with Mum and Dad when COVID came. Then in August I moved into my new home in Yate, Bristol. I have one housemate, but will soon have two. There is a support team from Brandon Trust in the house too, which I really like. I am cooking, shopping, making appointments, going for walks, all independently now, and I love it. I miss seeing my boyfriend Nino at the moment, but we do talk every day by FaceTime. On Valentines Day next year, we will celebrate our sixth Anniversary together. I love Nino into my heart, and can’t wait for us to be married and live together one day.

I think I will be a good Ambassador for WCAT because I like meeting people and chatting. I like having my photograph taken, and I smile a lot, because I am a very happy person. Thank you for reading this about my life.’


Arya

‘This is Arya, she is 19 months old, she is the most fun, loving and determined little girl we know. She was born in Dubai as we were working out there at the time. We relocated back to the UK in July 2019. We had a prenatal diagnosis that there was a high chance that Arya would have Down syndrome. Arya was born at 38 weeks, as soon as she was born she was taken to the NICU as she wasn’t breathing too well. The doctor came in to tell me a few minutes later in these exact words; “Unfortunately your baby has Down syndrome”. Not how a mother expects to be told straight after birth. My parents were the first to see Arya as they were flying in to stay with us until she was born. When they saw her, all they saw was this beautiful baby and not her condition.

The past year hasn’t been easy but we have seen Arya thrive and are so proud of her. She didn’t have an easy start to life Alhamdulilah, she fought and pulled through like a trooper. She had 3 holes in her heart, two closed up and the last one that was bigger than the others is closing up itself. She might need surgery later on in life, but for now she is monitored every 3 months and off her medication.

Over time everything has become easier, she is older and stronger. We learned as we went through each hospital admission, each appointment, viral infection, constant vomiting, pulling tubes out. There isn’t anything we can’t and won’t do for her. Arya has definitely come out of her shell over the past few months. Lockdown has helped us all so much. It has given us the time to focus on her needs and physio that will help with her progress. She blows raspberries, waves and smiles at everyone who she sees, that smile melts anyone’s heart. She loves clapping her hands especially when she has done something or when we praise her. She even understands our mother tongue, Urdu. She loves Mickey Mouse – as soon as she hears the theme song she starts to dance. She loves playing with her older brother and sister whether it is breaking the cup tower they build her, reading a book or her favourite peek-a-boo. The bond between all 3 of them is something I always wished my children would have. They love her so much and Arya loves them. She is a professional at making the funniest facial expressions, her naughty look is infamous at home. She just has the most fun, loving and caring personality.

She has taught our family and friends that having Down syndrome doesn’t change who she is, she is still Arya just with that extra sparkle. I have started to share our journey on Instagram, sabeena_and_arya. I was reluctant to at first, but the joy she brings the people that follow us is amazing. I just had to show the world that our life may seem difficult to them, but to us it is normal and no different to theirs. Yes, we have a few setbacks, more hospital appointments, some health issues but all of this can be treated or avoided with extra care and love. She has definitely changed and educated a few people in her short life so far and will do more as we share our journey and awareness of DS.

She is a blessing to us and our family, she has taught us patience, hope and how to be strong. I have started my own business because of Arya called @Luvabyuk. I make personalised baby and childrenswear. The first thing I made was a hashtag t-shirt for Arya that said #somuchworth. I have then gone and created more t-shirts for Down Syndrome Awareness month just gone donating a percentage to a charity.

She is my muse, model and inspiration. She has just been signed up by an agency and we can’t wait for this new journey to start. She has shown them that having an extra chromosome doesn’t mean it’s a problem or that her life is worth any less. She has fought for her life from the split second of fertilisation and beaten all the odds. Arya has the potential to do anything she wants and with that amazing personality she will be going places.’

You can follow Arya on her Social Media using the following links:


Poppie

‘Let me introduce you to Poppie, she is 7 years old, has dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and ADHD and very soon will be assessed for Autism.

Poppie is feisty, sassy and knows what she wants and how to achieve it! She is a heart warrior and the light of our lives. She loves all things sensory, so will play for hours in water, sand, soil or anything that allows her to get messy – the messier the better!

She attends a fantastic local SEN school, where she is seen as a member of the family rather than just a pupil or a class peer. She loves music, dancing and soft play.

Her favourite TV programmes are Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing on Ice and In the Night Garden. She also absolutely loves Singing Hands and has them on constantly.

People who meet Poppie absolutely adore her and she’s very hard to forget from her loveable, mischievous personality. She takes everything in her stride, her smile makes you feel warm inside and can brighten up the dullest of days and she lives life to fullest every day regardless of what life may throw at her.

We are also very proud that she is one of the kids from the “50 Mums” video that went viral back in March 2018, and has taken part in some of the early Wouldn’t Change A Thing campaigns, before going on to take part in the first “Down with Disney” campaign 2019 from Nicole Louise photography which also went viral.’


Sienna

‘Sienna turned 7 in October and lives with her mummy, daddy and little sister Leonie in Gloucester, UK.  She didn’t reveal her little something extra until she was 24 hours old, a few hours later she was also diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s disease which is a condition where the bowel doesn’t develop properly in the womb.  She required emergency, life saving surgery at 3 days old when she was fitted with an ileostomy. She has been through several other operations since then, including having half of her large intestine removed (Duhamel pull-through) when she was 4 months old and then a stoma reversal at 11 months.  She currently has an ACE (Antegrade Colonic Enema) fitted which is a tube going through her belly button into what remains of her bowel.  She has an irrigation system connected to this every day in order to flush it out.

Despite all of this, Sienna is a happy, very active little girl.  She bucks the usual perception of all people with DS being sociable as she is pretty shy, that doesn’t stop her making friends wherever she goes though. All the children at her school adore her and all make a point of stopping to say hi when they see her.  The teachers are the same too, especially her TAs, who have fallen for her during their time together.  She certainly touches people’s lives in quite a profound way.

She is in year 2 and works really hard to achieve things.  She is just starting to read books and short sentences/captions and can now read and write her name, along with mummy, daddy and Leonie.  You can see how proud she is of herself when she reaches these milestones.  She works a lot with her little sister and they encourage each other as they go.  Sienna will do anything for Leonie and vice versa.  They have the most wonderful relationship.

We are a family who loves to travel and Sienna has been lucky enough to live in Canada for part of her life where she learned to ski and have a go at ice skating and sledding. She also loves to play tennis and attends a DS Active session every week.  Singing and dancing are also passions for Sienna. She is a model who is signed to Zebedee Talent agency.  She has appeared in an EDF Smart Meter campaign on their website and has been asked to audition for several commercials. 

Sienna has been involved with Wouldn’t Change A Thing since the start and we love everything that they stand for as when it comes to having Sienna in our lives we certainly wouldn’t change a single thing.’

You can follow Sienna on her Social Media using the following links:


Jessica

‘My name is Jessica Rose.

I am honoured to be an ambassador because I want to introduce older adults, such as myself, with Down syndrome to society and to be a role model for younger people with Down syndrome. There are more opportunities open and available now then when I was younger thirty some years ago. Today shouldn’t be just for the young, we do grow and age. We are important, learning every day . I want to encourage older adults with Down syndrome along with their parents, family, caregivers to step up and be seen and heard. We all may come from different backgrounds, have different experiences, and interests, But we all have something in common, sense of belonging and acceptance.

I’m friendly, make friends easily, love talking and meeting new people.

I’m a member our local YMCA, I participate in Zumba, line dance, yoga, pilates classes and workout room and just recently started tae kwon do. I have been a movie extra in film/tv and have a agent now to try for speaking roles. I have participated in three 48 hour film projects and worked as a PA (producers assistant) on local film productions. I love to model and was invited to walk at NY fashion week, and I was just featured in our local city magazine. And I’m 34 1/2 years old!! I had a dream when I was young, now it’s coming true because I never, ever give up! I can do it!

We didn’t do anything wrong to be looked down on. We deserve to be treated with respect. My mom never treated me differently or kept me home. She always helped me. And said never give up, you can do it.’


Thomas

Meet Thomas, our next WCAT 2021 Ambassador. Thomas is from a British family living in the Netherlands. He lives there with his mum Alison, dad John and brother Daniel. Alison tells us;

‘Thomas was born December 3rd 2012, very quickly via an emergency c section at 36 weeks and was a blue baby. Thankfully we had an amazing team of doctors work on him and within 10 minutes he was breathing again and ready to transfer to the NICU. We where told by his Dr when he was 1 day old that they suspected he had Down syndrome and they arranged for the necessary blood tests. The following day during a routine scan he was diagnosed with an AVSD 2 holes in his heart one of 9mm the other was 3mm.

The fear we could lose him was huge, it totally overshadowed him potentially having Down syndrome.

He fought hard to overcome several medical challenges during his first week and continued to grow stronger. He had his heart surgery when he was 16 weeks old. It was during his heart surgery they discovered he also had a diaphragmatic hernia, this was operated on when was 20 weeks. When he finally came home it felt like winning the lottery – we could finally enjoy him and look forward to life as a normal family.

Thomas is and always has been determined and full of life, he has defied every obstacle and smashed every hurdle that was put in his way. He has this way of grabbing people’s attention and hearts; his smile lights up the room, he’s loving, kind and fiercely empathetic he can read people’s moods better than most adults. Thomas is fun and mischievous, he makes friends wherever he goes, he loves singing, dancing, playing football, making videos, playing with his brother and his brother’s friends, who all look past his Down syndrome only seeing a cool, funny little boy.

He also loves a challenge! One of the biggest challenges has been learning a second language. Thomas has been in a Dutch SEN nursery class since he was 3 years old, and transitioned to SEN school when he was 6.

Coming from an English family we watched lots of Makaton videos and he was proficiently signing in English by the time he was 3.

When he first started at Dutch nursery there was some concern over his language acquisition skills, but within weeks he was signing in Dutch. Within a year he was speaking words in both English and Dutch.

He’s now almost 8, he still has some speech delay but he works very hard and we hear new words every day in both languages.

He has already overcome so many hurdles in his life I honestly believe he is here for a reason, so many times he shouldn’t have survived but he did!

We couldn’t be prouder of him, he’s everything we could have asked for and more. We certainly Wouldn’t Change a Thing.’


Geraint

Geraint is 20 and is from West Wales. Having shown a great love for opera, musical theatre and performance art from a very young age (after first sitting through a production of Les Miserables, riveted, as a toddler, and asking ‘what’s that?’ when he first heard opera music on the radio) Geraint left home at aged 19 to follow his dreams as a Creative Arts student attending a specialist college.

Before that, Geraint absolutely loved appearing in school shows, and also featured in a catwalk show at Cardiff Fashion Week where he took to the runway with professional models.

Geraint’s childhood based in the beautiful countryside of Pembrokeshire was the subject of a 60 image touring photography exhibition.

Geraint has a great interest in alternative fashion, and having immersed himself first in pirate then Steampunk culture, Geraint won a talent show at Europe’s biggest Steampunk festival held at Lincoln castle. Geraint has also appeared in a TV documentary about life for young people in Wales and a film about the activist Drag Syndrome collective, having appeared onstage with the show’s stars at an avant garde nightclub in the east end of London.

During lockdown, Geraint appeared in a TV advertisement thanking key workers where he spoke in Welsh. Geraint has also performed in several live Shakespeare productions. A true ‘natural’ Geraint is the ultimate ‘showman’ and loves to entertain, which he succeeds in doing despite his significant speech difficulties.

Away from the stage, Geraint has spent lockdown staying safe in rural Pembrokeshire in the National Park where his family lives. He’s become a keen gardener, walker and zoom call learner, participating in many online courses including painting, crafts and language sessions. Geraint has also been honing his life skills by learning to prepare healthy meals.

Geraint is currently undertaking his silver Duke of Edinburgh award, having already been awarded his bronze. Geraint also won a Chief Scout’s Platinum Award. Geraint was invited to be a guard of honour at a private visit to Pembrokeshire of the Queen and he participated in several Remembrance Sunday parades.

A student of RDA for many years, Geraint is an experienced horse rider and assisted disabled youngsters at his local riding stables.

Geraint’s dream is to perform in New York, and his mum Sarah has no doubt he’ll fulfil his dreams. Geraint has two sisters and a brother, and he is extremely proud of his family. ‘He’s the heart and soul of our family, we learn from Geraint every day’ said mum Sarah.

Future plans include international travel, self-employment and performing, with a hope that Geraint will become able to pursue his passion for performing alongside other business opportunities that can make use of and develop his skills. He has a track record of undertaking many hours of voluntary work at community events and holds the honorary post of Director of Happiness in his mum Sarah’s PR business. A natural empathiser, Geraint wants to teach others how to enjoy life and live in the moment.

You can follow Geraint on his Social Media using the following links:


Isla Marie

‘My name is Isla Marie. I am 3 years old. I arrived 2 weeks early due to Cord Prolapse and was diagnosed with Trisomy 21.

I am my family’s unexpected blessing in 2017 and their greatest miracle to date.

We live in Dublin, Ireland. My parents are originally from the Philippines. I have a beautiful sister named Isobella who is 8 years older than me. I love to play pretend mani/pedi with her.

I go to Play School 5 days a week and I absolutely love it. I love playing, singing, and dancing with my classmates especially with my best friend Valentina.

My diagnosis was a shock to my parents, and it changed my family’s life… for the better and they would not change a thing about me!’


Keldan

This is Keldan, he is 4 in April and a massive ball of mayhem and love.

Keldan is due to start mainstream school in September and were currently busy organising his EHCP (Educational Health Care Plan).

He has recently signed with the wonderful A Special Face agency and we are hopeful someone will snap him up to work with.

We had a birth diagnosis but one we embraced after a long and turbulent road to having children together, one which involved talks of adoption and concluded with the agreement if we did walk that road we would like to adopt a child with Downs syndrome, you see we’re big believers in fate and so Keldan was meant to be.

Keldan is one of 5! He has a very grown sister, 2 older brothers and 1 younger. Watching him grow and interact with all of his siblings fills my heart with such joy, and watching their love, understanding and patience with him is beyond incredible.

We love to advocate and spreading a real life lived view on what Downs syndrome is for us – that means we happily share the good and the bad, and our hopes are to be approachable to anyone who is trying to make the decision on which path to walk regardless of which way they sway.

Keldan has helped to show me I need to slow down in life, don’t take anything for granted and enjoy the scenic route – so far it is the best way to go. Having a child who’s sheer hardwork and determination to meet any challenges he may face is humbling beyond belief.

You can follow Keldan on his Social Media using the following links:


Jessica

Meet Jessica. She is a lively, chatty and fun loving teenager who is very rarely found without a smile. She is in her 1st year of 6th Form, after gaining 11 GCSEs in the summer at entry level and her favourite subjects are art, English, science and music. Maths is very firmly her least favourite subject!

She enjoys modeling, acting, art, swimming, singing, dancing and she has a particular passion for writing songs. She is looking forward to getting back to her busy social life when she can and completing her Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award this year. She has already been chosen to model for major national charities, website product marketing as well as embarking on a very exciting acting career with zebedee management, a very successful and inclusive talent agency. Jessica is determined to represent Down syndrome in media and fashion as a positive, capable and thought provoking way. Watch this space!

Jessica puts her whole heart into everything that she does and throws herself into new challenges and she can’t wait to become a Wouldn’t Change A Thing Ambassador and all the adventures that come with. She is a keen advocate for raising positivity surrounding Down syndrome. She has her own strong views and voice when it comes to issues such as discrimination or being treated unfavourably and is determined to change peoples negative perceptions by just being awesome!

You can follow Jessica on her Social Media using the following links:


Mia

Mia is 2 years old and was our surprise rainbow baby! We were given a 1:5 chance of a Down syndrome diagnosis following a routine blood test at 12 weeks and this was confirmed a few weeks later along with a heart defect that would require surgery following her birth. She arrived by emergency C Section in the early hours of a bank holiday weighing 4lbs 11oz and spent her first 2 weeks in SCBU. Mia was 8 months old when she had her heart surgery and it was the longest day of our lives, thankfully it was a success and she has thrived ever since.

Mia lights up a room, people are drawn to her and she charms everyone with her big smile and infectious giggle. She loves blowing kisses to people and we are now on first names terms with quite a few coffee shop owners thanks to her ability to make friends. She loves to sing and dance/sign along to her favourite nursery rhymes and she loves Mr Tumble!

We are thrilled that Mia has been chosen to be one of the ambassadors for Wouldn’t Change A Thing for 2021. This charity is very close to our hearts as I was 6 months pregnant when the first video was released and it was exactly what I needed to see at a very difficult time of my pregnancy.


Maxwell

Maxwell is 5 years old. He lives with his mum, dad, little brother Hector and his cat Halle. Maxwell started reception at mainstream school in September. Although he coped with lockdown really well over the Spring and Summer, where he progressed in many areas such as toileting and learning to interact nicely with his little brother, he was so ready to start school.

We have seen him thrive at school in his first term. His speech is improving daily, he is excelling at reading and maths using See and Learn and is developing relationships with his peers.

He is a much loved member of his community and has been embraced by them in the most wonderful way. His school handled his transition really well. They educated his peers on Down syndrome and have been teaching Makaton in all year groups. Although Maxwell’s speech has been improving of late, he still mainly communicates by sign. He’s a bit of a celebrity at school and it’s so heart warming when children in other year groups take the time to sign hello to him as he’s walking in.

Maxwell loves music and happily sings and dances along to his favourite tunes. He also likes acting out scenes from his favourite films and attends a local theatre school. Maxwell has a love of animals and likes horse riding. Before lockdown he enjoyed regular swimming lessons with his dad and he is due to start a weekly gymnastics class in January. He’s also a passionate gamer and has taught himself to use many games and apps on his iPad and Kindle.

Maxwell has been signed to a talent agency called Zebedee Management for a number of years and has starred in campaigns for River Island, Matalan, Panda London, Jojo Maman Bebe and Children’s Salon. A highlight was him fronting Autumn/Winter and Christmas campaigns for River Island and being store front at both Oxford Street and Lakeside. He was also once on pencil for a large US fashion brand and the shoot was to take place in New York!!!

A little girl signed and said goodbye to Maxwell as he was walking out of school one afternoon. She turned to her dad and said proudly ‘that’s Maxwell he’s a fashion model and has his picture up in the school reception!’ It made us quite emotional that this was the impression he had made on her and that he wasn’t being defined by his Down syndrome.

Maxwell has been described by his teachers as a bright boy. His mum would describe him as cheeky and a pickle at times, but completely lovable. He is the centre of our family and we certainly wouldn’t change a thing!

Maxwell is so proud to be a WCAT ambassador for 2021!

You can follow Maxwell on his Social Media using the following links:


Ivy Joy

‘Ivy Joy is 2 1/2 years old and is just the brightest light. She has a mom, dad, big sister Zoe (8), and big brother Eli (5) and has changed our lives in all the best ways. Ivy has had 4 four surgeries, five sedated procedures, and countless blood draws. She has been brave and strong through each one. Ivy works so hard in therapy to do things that come easily to most other kids and just started walking independently! She loves riding horses in horse therapy, taking baths, and dancing to baby shark. Ivy has turned me (mom) into a fierce advocate for her and all people with disabilities. I’m working with a few other families in the state of Michigan to help get a law passed that will prevent organ discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities.

I use my Instagram account and Facebook page @myincredibleivy to share our lives as a family blessed with an extra chromosome and have built a platform that I am very proud of.

Ivy brings joy to all around her. She has already changed minds and hearts about Down syndrome in her short life and we will continue to shout her worth and the worth of all people with DS. We are so excited to be ambassadors for WCAT because we truly wouldn’t change a thing about Ivy!’

You can follow Ivy Joy on her Social Media using the following links:


Rio

‘Rio is almost 3 years old and lives in Bath, with his Mummy, Daddy & big brother Felix.

Rio had a difficult start to life, with numerous life saving surgeries and hospital admissions. He has a rare condition, which meant he had to shield during the Covid pandemic. However, this doesn’t stop him!

He signed with Zebedee Management before he was one and since then, has worked with Primark, Cbeebies and a charity campaign with Amazon Smile.

He was voted the 2nd ‘Most Influential Person’ in ‘Baths Top 100 Power List!’ His story has made headlines around the world. He is an absolute hero, which is why we call him our ‘warRIOr’.’

You can follow Rios journey on Instagram @downwithrio or Facebook ‘Down with Rio’


Connie

‘Connie lives in Cornwall with her younger sister, Esme, her Mummy and Daddy.

Connie loves to play football and is part of a local girls team, as well as having guitar lessons and doing gymnastics and dance. (I mean who doesn’t like being woken up by the Waffle the Wonder dog theme tune ‘played’ on guitar at 6am?!).

She is bright, bubbly, kind, independent and shows such great empathy to others. She makes us proud everyday through her sheer determination to be involved and succeed.

She has her own Facebook page called Connie: A life less ordinary and through that we share the delights and challenges of living with Down’s syndrome.’


Benjamin

‘Benjamin is 5 years old and lives with his 2 brothers Efraim and Joseph, mummy and daddy. He is in a mainstream school in South London where he is very popular and even has a girlfriend! He is a model with Zebedee and was in the WCAT Grandparents shoot. He was also in the WCAT October DS awareness campaign. He has been on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire show (twice!) and BBC Panorama with his beautiful smile winning hearts. He is also a fantastic worship leader in our church and loves singing and dancing!

Benjamin is a ray of sunshine wherever he goes. He says hello to everybody he passes whether they are homeless or famous, happy or sad, young or old! He once said hello to a lonely looking man standing outside of a hospital and the man said “thank you so much for noticing me!” He is a blessing to all he meets.’


Summer

‘Summer is 5 and lives on The Wirral, Merseyside with her mummy and daddy and older siblings. She was born in 2015 and from the moment she was born our life changed for the better.

Summer is an amazing little girl who makes everyone fall in love with her from the moment they meet her. She has raised so much awareness for Down syndrome in our local area where everyone knows and loves her.

In May 2019 Summer was diagnosed with ALL leukaemia and has been receiving chemotherapy for the last 19 months and is due to finish in August 2021. She has fought her battle with the most amazing smile on her face and has shown everyone how strong she is and shown people how to live with a cancer diagnosis. Summer is the heart of our family and we wouldn’t change a thing.’

You can follow Summer on her Social Media using the following links:


Lenny

‘Lenny is a cheeky little boy who will be three in April. He is the heart of our family, and brother to two amazing sisters Izzy and baby Nell. He absolutely loves going to nursery and he is a little charmer especially when it comes to the ladies! This may be why the nursery staff love him.

Lenny has such a fun loving personality he has a killer smile – we call it the Lenny Magic – he can make anyone smile. He has so many facial expressions he just beams positivity from the second you lay eyes on him.

He is a model for Zebedee and is currently on a TV commercial for MyPura baby wipes. He was the first little boy with a disability to be used in a baby wipes TV commercial; this is an incredible achievement for a little boy.

He sure rocks his extra chromosome, hence his name on TikTok @LennyRocks! We started TikTok to raise awareness around Down syndrome and now over 70 thousand people follow him. Lenny has a huge love for music and dancing – when the music starts Lenny throws out some cool dance moves. He thrives on being centre of attention too!

Lenny has filled a place in many people’s hearts, a place they didn’t even know needed filling. Me and his dad Ste feel like we won the lottery the day Lenny was born. I had Non Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) when I was pregnant, that came back 1:50,000 so for Lenny to be that 1 in 50 Thousand we feel like we hit the jackpot.

I can’t even put into words the love we get from Lenny, he is amazing, we wouldn’t change a thing about him, and for him to be chosen to be a WCAT ambassador is just utterly incredible, we will never stop showing the world how amazing people with Down syndrome are.’

Lenny is also on TikTok, click here to take a look.


Ellie

‘Ellie is a happy and jolly 6 year old who loves reading books, playing tennis, piano, dancing, singing and baking with her granny. She loves making people smile but actually her giggles naturally makes people smile! She has been always surrounded by wonderful friends. Her mum is Japanese so she is used to travelling to Japan with her family once a year. Now she misses her family and friends in Japan but she talks to granny and grandad in Japan via Skype. She loves playing with her little sister who is 22 months old. They love pretending they are a vet and nurse and look after animals. Even though she is having a life with lots of smiles, she experienced tough time in her early year of her life. She was diagnosed as leukemia, AML when she was 6 months old. It was a week after her diagnosis of Down Syndrome. In order to start her chemotherapy urgently, Ellie and her parents flew to Southampton Hospital from Guernsey and she had a 4 slots of chemotherapy in 6 months. She spent her first Christmas in the hospital with her parents. It was an extremely difficult experience for her, but she didn’t give up smiling. Her strong will to live and to beat the cancer helped support her parents and even when she was very ill she was always their big sunshine and brave little mighty hero. 6 years later she is now a healthy and happy little girl and she enjoys her school life and tennis lessons, piano lessons, and dance lessons. Last year, her mum and Ellie ran a fundraising cake shop for the charity who supported the family during her treatment. Also she donated her hair to help children who are in the similar circumstance once Ellie was. These were very special achievements last year. She also did the first Christmas poem reading in front of her big family in Guernsey. She was really proud that she received lots of lovely comments. Ellie likes new challenges and she is looking forward to sharing her everyday challenges with you all this year as Ambassador!’

You can follow Ellie on her Social Media using the following links:


Ben

‘I am really excited be an Ambassador for WCAT this year and would like to introduce myself.

My name is Ben and I am 15 years old, I have four brothers, one sister, two cats and a dog called Cleo and just love my life! I enjoy reading, drama, swimming, trampolining, telling jokes, playing pranks, and lifting weights with my brother Jamie, I now have big muscles. I have a girlfriend and have been on 2 dates. I love acting and go to two theatre schools and am taking my 3rd LAMDA acting exam soon. I have appeared on stage and screen, more recently I have been in two TV shows, ‘The Dog Ate My Homework’ and ‘Play Your Pets Right’ which were great fun! and took part in the Down with Disney campaign. I love most sports and have recently enjoyed Kayaking. I am in year 11 at mainstream school but am going to a specialist college in September for the 6th form. When I leave college I would like to be a Postman. Nothing stops me doing anything I want to do, I live my life to the full.’

You can follow Ben on his Social Media using the following link:


Cree

‘This is Cree, a happy go lucky kind of kid. Cree is a smiler and loves to laugh and make other people laugh. He’s a little comedian. He really enjoys pretending to be a monster or zombie and scaring his family. He loves Halloween, in fact he watches Halloween themed shows almost daily. Cree has a great arm, and enjoys basketball. If I had to bet, he will be a star Special Olympic athlete one day. Cree’s the kid that will hit the shot at the final buzz! School is another place Cree thrives. He loves to show you what he knows, and appreciates encouragement along the way. Cree loves being a big brother too. His little brother Knox is his best friend. Cree was born with an ASD, Duodenal Atresia, and has had a Gtube since shortly after birth. Around age 2 he was diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s. Although Cree has had a complicated medical past, he exudes determination and resilience.’


Simeon

‘Having been involved with WCAT from the beginning, Simeon and I performed in the original Wouldn’t Change a Thing 50 Mums video. He showed his adorable charm, melted hearts and was dubbed ‘the boy in the blue glasses’. 

Simeon our little @sensational.sims is 7 years old. We also call him Sims or Simmy. He is a cheeky, funny little boy with a lot of personality. No one is a stranger to him as he has great confidence in connecting with people. He is an incredibly loving friend who makes everyone smile.   

Simeon lives in Coventry, UK with me, his Dad Scott, sister Selah who is 12, and brother Jonas who is 10. We are a British-American family with both parents having grown up in America and all the kids are very much British, like their Nana’s side of the family. Sims is our joy and we all absolutely adore him. He is like everyone in the family’s best friend. He brightens everyday and is always making us laugh and giving cuddles.   

His favourite place is the stage as he loves dancing, singing and performing, especially with his sister. The highlight is always the bows at the end of a performance as he loves a dramatic finish. He has all of the CBeebies Pantomimes memorised and loves to reenact his favourite scenes from his vast repertoire of shows.  

Just like his brother he loves finding the humour in things. He has a creative knack for finding ways to make things funny. Jonas says Sims is super mischievous but also gentle and so caring.   

Simeon is very organised and has strong ideas. He is never shy to take charge and give direction to those around him. Though his speech clarity has taken a while in developing, he has always had exceptional nonverbal communication even with strangers. He really enjoys playing with his little people for hours on end at home as they always do exactly what he wants.  

In normal times he plays football weekly, attends dance classes and spends lots of time on the trampoline. He has inherited athletic skills from his dad and enjoys some basketball and tennis.   

It was such a privilege to be a part of that crazy time of the 50 Mums video and seeing our photo on news across the world was a bit mind-boggling. We were so touched by the many stories of the impact that video made on people’s perceptions of Down syndrome.   

We also loved representing WCAT on This Morning twice, and whenever Sims sees something with Holly and Phil he recalls signing ‘Friend in Me’ to them. He has also featured with Scott in the Father’s Day video filmed by Paramount, and the Christmas 2020 ‘What Do You See’ video and signing video.  

We’re so excited that he has been chosen as a WCAT Ambassador for 2021 and we look forward to sharing more of his life with you. He wouldn’t change a thing about his life and neither would we.’

You can follow Sims on his Social Media using the following link:


Alex

Our world was complete on the 4th Feb 2007 when our son Alex burst into the world. His big sister was 3 and my husband and I fell in love with him the moment we saw him. We already knew that he had two AVSDs in his heart but we were not sure how severe it would be until he was born. We were told he had to go straight to ICU and the room was filled with medics and specialists. Alex arrived relatively quickly – only a 4 hour labour (thank you!!) and he screamed the place down – something I hadn’t expected. The room rapidly emptied reassuring me that he had passed his first hurdle!! I was able to hold him and have that all important skin to skin contact – again something I didn’t expect to have happen. He went to SCBU for monitoring but he looked the picture of health. On his 5th day he has his first ECG and ultrasound, where his AVSD was confirmed.

But Alex’s fighting spirit was there already. His surgery to repair his heart was planned for when he was 9 months old but he deteriorated and by 7 weeks was in heart failure. Soon after, he had his surgery which he bounced back from and was home after just 10 days. Alex’s personality really started to shine through as he grew and gained strength. He has always been a big character and as a baby he was asked to be on the front cover of Mother and Baby magazine – he loved the camera and the attention (nothing has changed!).

Alex was born with rhythm and began drumming from an early age. Starting off with any baby toy, he swiftly progressed to mini drums then a full drumkit and now an electric one. He has drumming lessons and he also plays the guitar. Alex’s dancing skills are a real sight to behold. He loves being in the limelight and so being an epic rhythmic dancer only works to make sure this happens. Whether it’s a party, wedding or just in a cool music shop, Alex will fall into a well rehearsed dance routine to the delight of all watching.

Alex loves travelling and routinely charms air hostesses into getting additional freebies for him. The thing he enjoys the most about holidays is the water – he loves social swimming and playing water volleyball with new friends he made. Alex’s charm routinely gains us extra portions at restaurants, and one in particular have made him feel extra special by letting him put in his own order – and on occasion they have given the whole family free meals!! They treat him like a superstar and we are often asked if Alex is famous because of how they treat him!!!

Alex has always made friends easily and was very popular at nursery as well as with the pupils at my daughter’s school when we went to pick her up. He had his own group of friends and they couldn’t wait to play with him. Once he started school he rapidly became a popular class member and also had the teaching staff waiting on him hand and foot. He rapidly became the poster boy for his school as he was the first child with Down syndrome they had taken. They now have three more pupils and Alex was the ambassador for them and many others that will follow him too. Alex loves school and has progressed really well in all aspects. His speech and literacy are always improving although he loves maths and science more and PE and cookery the best. At school he has responsibility for helping out the younger pupils and is in the school choir.

Alex is also super sporty and plays for his school’s football, athletics and basketball teams. Outside of school he plays with Charlton Upbeats as a midfielder. He is now a solid member of their senior team and plays regularly for them. He also plays tennis and was the runner up in his first tournament at the DSA competition and was in the winning team in his next competition at Queen’s. He even met Andy Murray at his last tournament in February 2020.

Alex also enjoys horse riding, athletics and basketball. He is very competitive but is a good loser unless it’s on PlayStation where he is a very sore loser!

Alex loves his big sister and their relationship is beautiful as they are very close. He is very much a cool teenager and is into his clothes music and hair. He has a personality that is larger than life itself and we are just so very blessed to have this amazing young man in our lives.’


Kaoru

Meet our next WCAT Ambassador, Kaoru, introduced by his sister Noriko.

‘My brother, Kaoru, is 34 years old and lives with our mum in Worcestershire, UK. We were both born in Japan, and our parents made the big decision for the family to move to the UK when Kaoru had just turned 5 and never looked back. Kaoru has grown up speaking both English and Japanese and has attended both mainstream and SEN schools/colleges. He has always loved music and played the violin for a few years until he started the piano. He currently attends The Elgar School of Music in Worcester for his music studies. He has taken part in several ‘Unheard Notes Piano Para’ – a festival for pianists with disabilities, in Vancouver, Vienna and New York, proudly representing the UK. Music is his life and he has also been having singing lessons (helps with developing his speech as he has some hearing loss) and has gained distinctions in various musical theatre exams. His latest musical challenge is playing the french horn in an orchestra for children and adults with additional needs which I run.

His other passion is sports – he loves playing tennis and is part of the Down’s Syndrome tennis group at Pershore Tennis Club and has been picked to represent Worcestershire in Special Olympics (sadly Special Olympics 2021 in Liverpool has been cancelled due to Covid). He took part in a tennis festival for people with Down’s syndrome and was fortunate enough to meet Andy Murray (his hero) who happened to be training there.

He attends a day centre where he is able to learn about horticulture and gardening skills and his group takes part in various garden shows including RHS shows. He has done well considering he used to hate getting anything muddy on his hands – not anymore!

Kaoru has recently been signed up to Zebedee Management and cannot wait to do some modelling and commercials!

This year has not been easy for anybody and Kaoru has tried hard to cope and has improved numerous skills and learned some new ones too. He has continued well with his music lessons online and has managed to do tennis training on his own by using a tennis trainer kit – he cannot wait to get back to training with his coach. He has also developed a new love for 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles!

We are really grateful to have been chosen as a WCAT Ambassador for 2021 and look forward to sharing and celebrating all things positive and show that children and adults with Down’s syndrome can achieve so much!’


Hollie

‘Helo bawb. Fy enw i yw Hollie ac rydw i’n 13 oed.

Hi everyone. My name is Hollie and I’m 13 years old. I live in South Wales with my Parents and my 2 younger sisters Poppie and Lillie and our King Charles spaniel Bella.

A little bit about me – I was diagnosed with Down syndrome at 10 days old. My family didn’t know anything about Down syndrome at the time. My parents told our family and friends not to treat me any different to any other child, and true to their word, they haven’t/don’t.

At 19 months old, after a 16 month battle trying to get answers for my symptoms, I was diagnosed with Acute Myloid Leukaemia. After 6 months of intense chemotherapy, I completed my treatment and the cancer was all gone! At the age of 5, I developed a corneal ulcer which was sight threatening. Fortunately, I got treatment straight away and now my sight is back with minimal scarring.

In 2013, I was chosen out of hundreds and thousands of ladies from all over the UK to be the face of Cancer Research. All across the UK at every Race for life, I was shown on the big screens with my winning warrior pose which everyone was to copy at the Cancer slam dance. I was so proud. I even got to start all the local Races with a very loud air horn!

In 2014, I was given the all clear. To mark the special day, I donated 18″ of my hair to The Princess Trust to make wigs for poorly children and I raised over 2.5k for a local charity at the same time.

Since my first charity hair cut, I’ve donated another 36″ of my hair and raised another couple of thousand pounds for other charities. So that’s 54″ of my hair I have donated and a few thousands of pounds raised for different charities in the last 6 years.

I love to send out positive perceptions of Down syndrome. When out and about, I can often capture the hearts of many people who love to come over to me to say hi and tell me how beautiful I am. I am very confident, sassy, and hilarious with an attitude of a proper teenager (Sorry Mum and Dad). I love to do TikTok videos too and will always try my best at everything. I feel ever so lucky to be asked to be an ambassador again for Wouldn’t Change A Thing. I can’t wait to help WCAT to spread the love and joy and to change attitudes along the way.

I am now in Year 8 of secondary school and I absolutely love it. I have the most amazing friends a girl could ever wish for. Since nursery, the schools I have attended have been a massive support to me as well as my peers. All my friends never looked or treated me any different to anyone else. I love the positive attitude everyone shows me and its definitely changing perceptions of Down syndrome.

I am a massive Swansea city supporter and enjoy going down the stadium with my Dad and our Season ticket to cheer our team on.

I’m a happy-go-lucky teen and will always feel positive for the future with the help from our wonderful WCAT families. Here’s hoping 2021 will be a much better year for us all. Everyone stay safe and stay well.

Caru chi i gyd. Love you all.’


Max and Jude

Max and Jude are both in Kindergarten this year. Max is a born performer and absolutely loves to dance and make people laugh. Max can recognize all his letters and write them too. His Memaw has been teaching him how to read this year during virtual learning. Max was adopted from China when he was 2 1/2 years old and he completed our family perfectly.

Jude is a natural artist and loves to paint and draw – on paper, the magna doodle, ipad, or even the walls – all are blank canvases to him. He loves to play hide-n-seek and to pull pranks on his family. Jude loves to sing – especially if a microphone is available. Jude is also a born encourager. He is always giving hugs, fistbumps, and telling someone “you’re the best!”

Both Max and Jude love to wrestle and play ball with their big brother, MT. They love to create videos and fun projects with their sister, Mikayla. They love going to the beach, camping, and playing games.’


Francesca

‘Hi! My name is Francesca and I’m 5 years old. My hobbies are swimming, music and dancing ballet. My passion is modeling and taking part in photo shoots. I go to mainstream school and I’m doing really well. I love my school as I meet all my friends there and we have a lot of fun. My favorite food is pasta with prawns, I like to watch Peppa pig and musical movies . I love make up and I was the first toddler with Down syndrome to take part in modeling competitions and I have won several titles such as Junior Christmas , Junior top model and Junior Miss summer. I would love to be a professional model when I grow up.’


Nino

‘Nino was diagnosed with Down syndrome aged 6 months. The Consultant said “He’ll never get a proper job” as he told us about the Down syndrome.

It was a ‘rock your world’ moment that day, I went into complete denial, refused any support from anyone; to accept support made it real somehow, I just didn’t have the resilience to face that at the time.

I reflect on those days with sadness now, I just wish I had been stronger to deal with things. But I suppose we all react to things how we react, maybe that’s why things have turned out how they have. Once I found the strength to face it I became his advocate – I’ve never given up one fight for Nino about anything, and I’ve battled to make the world see how much he had to offer. Maybe these days he is a reflection of my early inner battles with disability & how I grew, learned & accepted that it can be a glorious path to walk, holding hands & supporting each other along the way. He’s been my teacher from the start.

Throughout Nino’s life we have had full support from both our families and I’ve just carried on everyday with a ‘this boy will do whatever he wants’ attitude. He really flourished when at five he welcomed his sister Lia into our family. She became his little ‘big’ sister from the start & taught him so much. They are best friends & have a wonderful relationship. She really is the best sister he could ever need.

Fast forward 21 years and wow has my boy flourished! He went to mainstream nursery, mainstream Primary until 8 years old, mild & complex specialist setting then transferred to another specialist setting due to bullying when he was 14 yrs old….this was the best thing we ever did, he flourished, was happy, made amazing friends & really developed well in all areas of his education.

Aged 18 years he moved onto mainstream College with specialist classes. It was such a positive experience for him, he loved going to college, hanging out with his sports course mates at lunch, seeing his sister at college & generally being seen as a valuable member of the course & the whole college. He left in June 2020 with plans to work in a farm cafe with Brandon Trust, attend Choices For You (a sports based facility), work coaching younger children at Bristol City Academy & continue working as a Community Coach for Bristol Bears.

Nino started working with Bristol Bears 6 years ago on The Spectrum pilot Work Experience opportunity. He then continued until today where he has the proud honour of being a Community Coach & Community Champion for Bristol Bears Community Foundation.

He has coached over 50’s rugby, coached pulls at local schools with SEND, played in matches himself, works match days in Ashton Gate Stadium. The opportunities Bears have given to Nino are beyond what anyone would hope for their child. He is a valued member of the coaching team & something of a celebrity at Ashton Gate.

It was through Bristol Bears Nino made links with Bristol City & now calls Lee Johnson the Manager one of his best friends..and again Bristol City treat him like a VIP. Nino received a Parliamentary Award in 2016 at the Houses of Parliament for his dedication & hard work with Bristol Bears, a very proud day for all of us.

Nino leads a full, thriving, productive, meaningful life. He is a Model signed to Zebedee Management for nearly 3 years, he is a competing Special Olympic Swimmer, he is a goalkeeper for Mencap FC, he is a Community Coach, he weight trains 4 times a week, he is 100% health & fitness focused. He has a beautiful girlfriend called Olivia & they’ve been together for 5 years….true love. Nino strives hard to achieve what he wants, he has various medical issues that limit his independence, but nothing stops him. As his Mum I give him my full support & help him reach his goals. I know he’s my Hero, he inspires me to be a better person every day. Down syndrome is the glitter on top of his personality.’

Nino says;

‘I’m so very proud to be asked to stay on as an Ambassador for WCAT for 2021.

I’m hoping we can all get together again with our family, friends, loved ones & continue to raise awareness for Down syndrome.

I love being involved in all the amazing campaigns with WCAT & together we are changing hearts & minds.’

You can follow Nino on Instagram using the following link:


Ivan

Meet Ivan, determined, stubborn, and every thing good that goes between. He loves life and wants to achieve all of his hopes and dreams. You see, his diagnosis of Down syndrome does not mean he’s not human, just like me and you. He has a natural drive to want to work, learn and socialise. He also loves to spend time with his girlfriend and enjoys going to college. But this all comes from the fact he thrives on opportunity; once given he runs with it. He has a very fulfilled life and the only thing he is disappointed at is being on the shorter side!!