Making Strides

I don’t know if you’ve seen this latest add from Target, but I LOVE it. It features the adorable little kid named Ryan who has Down syndrome.

Time Magazine reports

Target cast Ryan in its latest children’s clothing ad, and Nordstrom featured him in a campaign several months ago. Notably, Target did not publicize his inclusion; there were no self-congratulatory press releases or pats on the back, signaling that Ryan’s presence in the catalog was nothing out of the ordinary.

The move was praised on the blog Noah’s Dad, which is penned by a father of a special-needs child. He deemed the ad an inspiration to counter false stereotypes and look at people with fresh eyes, and lauded Target for not making a big deal out of Ryan’s casting.

Down syndrome stems from a genetic abnormality in which an extra copy of the 21st chromosome is produced. The condition affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S. and can be marked by cognitive delays, intellectual disabilities and increased risk of other medical conditions. Many of those afflicted with Down complete school and hold jobs, often with the help and support of family and friends.

Some of my favorite people to interact with in our lobby on Sunday mornings are children and adults with Down Syndrome. So glad they’re a part of our Cross Point family. And equally glad that pop culture is seemingly “recognizing” and “including” them in such advertisements.

23 Responses to “Making Strides”

  1. Thanks for filling me in on this pete. I think it is a great idea and even greater that Ryan was not singled out. Target is to be commended for their “inclusion” of Ryan and not using him to further their own gain (by publicizing it). Christians have been good about taking shots at Target for “bad” things. It is time to hear some good words.

  2. I didn’t know about these ads. Glad you pointed them out. Also, glad Target is doing something like this and people are taking notice. Hopefully, they’re leading a new way of thinking.

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Pete! Having worked for the Autism Foundation of TN for the past year, it’s been so cool to see, even my own stereotypes, be broken down by special needs kiddos. They are so stinking cute and look at the world in a completely different way than the rest of us. Their capabilities and understanding is sometimes greater than what we could possibly know.

  4. Joe Pote says:

    Thank you, Pete, for sharing understanding on this topic.

    I saw a related post, yesterday, that I really liked. You might enjoy it, too.

  5. paulaswift says:

    I recently read a medical article about “eliminating Downs for good”… what it came down to was that the latest genetic testing is so precise, that parents can know early enough on to terminate the pregnancy without any doubts.


    So to see this kind of publicity makes me very happy – and the response it is getting across the country. Growing up with a family friend with Downs, and having several friends who have children with Downs, this hits home.

  6. sheila says:

    My oldest newphew was born with Down Syndrome. I can’t even describe the special ability God gave them to love. Ooooh, but he was stubborn, lol. Wonderfully-made, just as God intended and he enriched our lives beyond what I could have even imagined. In God’s Love, sheila

  7. Karen Kuntz says:

    As a mom of a 28 year old son with Down syndrome, I have seen many ads over the years that included children with Down syndrome. I LOVE it! I read the article in TIME magazine & though I applaud them for bringing it to peoples’ attention, there are 2 things they said that I wish to comment on:

    Instead of saying, “Down syndrome stems from a genetic abnormality in which an extra copy of the 21st chromosome is produced,” I would rewrite it as, “People who have Down syndrome have an extra copy of the 21st chromosome.” DS is not a ‘genetic abnormality’. People who experience Down syndrome are made that way by God. Just as a person may be designed with brown eyes, my son was designed by God to have an extra 21st chromosome.
    Here are 2 Bible references on the subject:
    Psalm 139:13-16 13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
    14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
    15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
    16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
    AND New Living Translation (©2007)
    Exodus 4:11 Then the LORD asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the LORD?

    The articles also says, ” Many of those afflicted with Down…”
    People who have Down syndrome are not ‘afflicted’. “Afflicted” is defined as “To inflict grievous physical or mental suffering & misery on.” Anyone who has been around a person experiencing Down syndrome would hardly say they are ‘suffering’ or ‘in misery’. Ha!!
    Thanks for letting me share.

  8. Mike in Milwaukee says:

    Great story, Pete. Thanks for posting it. It reminds me of a column I read over the weekend that begins with the sentence: “How does one measure whether a life was a success, or a failure?”

    The column is about Cal Thomas’ recently passed away brother, who was born at a time when Downs babies were usually cast away to institutions where unspeakable horrors would await.

    Sadly, today, death (by abortion) is chosen for roughly 90% of all babies diagnosed with Downs in utero.

    Target and Nordstrom’s should both be applauded for helping bring the beautiful faces of these sweet children into the public eye.

  9. Kris Lukings says:

    As a parent of a child with Down Symdrome, I can’t tell you how much I love this… Thank you for sharing.

  10. Tessa says:

    Kudos to Target for including him in their ad, as well as not patting themselves on the back for it. I love to see individuals with Down Syndrome working with the public. In the area where I live, McAlister’s Deli has several people working for them that have Down Syndrome, and I think it’s awesome every time I go in there!

  11. Jason says:

    I just wish Cross Point wasn’t the exception rather than the rule when it comes to welcoming special needs children and their families.

  12. Well, you know I love this! I just can’t imagine this life without our sweet Shawnie, just exactly the way that he is. BTW, we came to the Nashville campus this weekend trying to sneak in a Pete or a Blake sighting. We missed getting to say hi to you in person….but waved from the “overflow room”. Ha.

  13. Shannon says:

    I get the awesome privilege to work with special needs kids every day…they love unconditionally, accept me as I am and have insight beyond their human capability. So grateful to be taught by them!

  14. Christina says:

    Pete, thanks for sharing this. As a marketer myself, this is so encouraging to see. I plan to share this with coworkers as an example of companies that are doing things a little differently, in a good way.

  15. Betty says:

    Thank you so much for pointing this out. As the mother of 2 of the Down Syndrome Adult/ Children who love to hug you and say Hi! on Sundays I want to thank you ! It means alot to them to be acknowledged. So many times they are overlooked and devalued.
    My oldest daughter asked why I wanted to adopt a child with Downs ( like her sister Tori) instead of a child like her ( beautiful red head)I told her people see the value and the potential in her and gladly adopt but … children like Tori are like diamonds in the rough you have to do a little work and look a little deeper to see there value.We have 2 very special ladies in our family ( Tori biological and Laney adopted) Both are a blessing and are not seen as a hardship to endure..

    Tori prays for you and your family and I KNOW GOD Hears her…

    Thanks again Pastor Pete you are a blessing to us.

  16. This makes me smile! My nephew is 3 and Downs. Love doesn’t begin to cover what he teaches us, and so much more! We are blessed that he is part of our family!!

  17. Beth says:

    Good for Ryan. This ad is lovely and colorful. I’d certainly be encouraged to go in the store and take a second look. I do a heap of shopping for myself online but it’s a bit soulless to be honest. Real life shopping is better and seeing the clothes modeled is the next best thing. Well done Target. We need one over here.

  18. Issues of disability are the next big issue …if we (culturally) can leave behind sexual related issues as a primary focus. The disabled are among the weakest, and most oppressed. The church has had it backward seeing this group a pitiable, and not fully members of the body with the capability to minister mutually. Amos Yong has a great book about it “The Bible, Disability, and the Church: A New Vision for the People of God”

    For any minster, it really should be required reading.


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