A Georgia toddler with Down syndrome is featured in a prestigious holiday ad campaign sponsored by OshKosh B'Gosh, a subsidiary of Carter's clothing, based in Atlanta.
Asher Nash captured hearts when the story of his mother's quest for her son's acceptance, and the acceptance of all people with Down syndrome, went viral. Now little Asher has been asked to model for several other brands.
At first, Asher was overlooked because of his disability. His mother, Meagan Richter Nash, submitted his pictures to an Atlanta talent agency that was holding an open casting call for OshKosh. After never hearing back from the agency, Meagan called to inquire about Asher's application. She was told his pictures were never given to OshKosh because the company didn't specify they wanted children with special needs. Meagan felt Asher, and other special needs people, should be considered for work even when a company doesn't specifically ask for special needs applicants.
That's when Meagan took to Changing the Face of Beauty's Facebook Page, a site dedicated to promoting inclusion of special needs people. Meagan made a direct appeal OshKosh and other companies, by first informing them that when they ask agencies to hold open casting calls for models, pictures of children with disabilities are often not considered. She then challenged OshKosh to use her son in their ads. The company agreed.
Meagan said it's important to feature people with disabilities in advertisements for three reasons.
"The first reason is inclusion . People with disabilities want to be included amongst their peers in life in general, and being seen in advertisement is a part of that," she said.
She continued, "The second reason, which is very near and dear to my heart, is acceptance. Without truly accepting my son and others with special needs, there can be no inclusion for them in the future. And the last reason is respect. Using people with special needs shows the world that these people have value and worth just like any typical person does."
Down syndrome is a genetic disorder in which a child has an extra chromosome, and as a result, has some mental and physical disabilities. A relatively new test for Down syndrome can be performed early in woman's pregnancy. For every 10 expectant mothers who are told their baby has Down syndrome, eight choose to abort that child. Those who are not aborted and are born number about six-thousand a year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meagan, like many other parents of children with Down syndrome is trying to raise awareness that people with this condition have lives worth living.
"Asher seeks out and finds the joy and happiness in everything . He tends to always have a smile on his face," she said, adding, "I knew when Asher was born he was destined to be great and do great things. So I am very proud to share his beauty with the world."