People with special needs face a stigma that prevents them from receiving the same level of attention and accreditation as others; thankfully, times are changing, and leaders like 11-year-old Grace Isabella Wharton are paving the way for a new generation that demonstrates that people with special needs are just like everyone else.
Grace is a role model for others. She’s an 11-year-old blonde with a bright, effervescent grin that can brighten up any room. She has Down syndrome as well. The young girl is a true go-getter who doesn’t let anything get in her way.
She is currently represented by Zebedee Management, which has over 300 special needs clients. Children and adults with Down syndrome and other mental disorders are sometimes seen as social outcasts.
Laura Johnson, a co-founder of Grace’s modeling agency, stated the company was founded to highlight model diversity. According to Johnson, who spoke to the Daily Mail:
“We believed there weren’t enough chances for people with disabilities in the fashion, advertising, television, and film industries, and we wanted to see a difference,” Johnson said.
Grace was a firm believer in the agency’s co-founder from the start. “We knew Grace was going to be fantastic in this part right away. She’s a stunning little creature, all smiles and self-assurance” she stated.
She went on to say how popular the young model was. “She is unquestionably one of our success stories,” remarked the co-founder.
While familiarity is the first step toward acceptance and, eventually, inclusion, more exposure is required for people with Down’s Syndrome to genuinely be accepted and cherished members of society. Grace is demonstrating to the world, one picture shoot at a time, that people with Down syndrome are just as valuable as everyone else.
“There’s so much negativity surrounding Down syndrome,” Cheryl told the Daily Mail in an interview.
Since being signed, Grace has posed for Disney, CBeebies, and the BBC. It all began when her mother took her to a picture shoot for disabled persons. Grace’s appearance in big advertising normalizes the presence of persons with Down syndrome in everyday life, rather than only raising awareness about her illness. Although they may require assistance at times, persons with Down syndrome can still live active, fulfilling lives and make valuable contributions to their communities.
“Grace has had a lot happen to her since she was born. She’s had a few major operations, but she’s never been seriously ill,” Cheryl explained.
Grace still has low muscle tone, which makes it difficult for her to make the sounds needed to create words.
“It’s critical that we convey the notion that she’s just a little girl who happens to have Down Syndrome.” It’s not a big issue; she’s a tough little girl who will always be our daughter,” Cheryl explained.
John, Cheryl’s father, adding, “She’s always managed to get through everything she’s been up against. She’s a little fighter for us.”
He proudly stated, “She continues to challenge everyone who told her she couldn’t achieve anything.”