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Wellcome Image of the Week: Down’s Syndrome

2 Aug, 2013

Kate Powell

This week’s Image was taken as part of the ‘Shifting Perspectives’ exhibition, which celebrates the lives and achievements of people with Down’s syndrome through photography. It shows Kate Powell and her friends sharing a lunch break while working at the Platform One café in Clapham, London.

Down’s syndrome is a genetic condition caused by an extra chromosome 21. Most of us have two of each chromosome arranged as 23 pairs, but those with Down’s syndrome have three chromosomes at position 21 (trisomy 21). The extra chromosome can lead to learning disabilities, early onset Alzheimer’s disease and heart defects.

The Shifting Perspectives project started when a small group of local photographers who all had children with Down’s syndrome put up a small exhibition for Down’s Syndrome Awareness week in 2003, which occurs every year in March organised by the Down’s Syndrome Association. The project has since grown and developed, touring internationally.

“Before ‘Shifting Perspectives’ started there was little positive imagery surrounding Down’s syndrome” says Richard Bailey, who took the photo of Kate, “Many of the images would be of a medical or charity based nature”.

“We aim to show that people with Down’s syndrome are no longer expected to spend their days ‘languishing’ in a care home, but ARE expected to attempt the kind of things that ‘we’ all take for granted.”

Richard’s daughter Billie-Jo was born with Down’s syndrome and he says that with the right help and support, there is no reason that people with Down’s syndrome shouldn’t have the same opportunities in life as others. “The more exposure we give to people with Down’s syndrome, the more accepting society will become, the more opportunities will become available and the brighter the future will be for the next generation of children with Down’s syndrome, including my own daughter”.

Image credit: Richard Bailey, Wellcome Images

Wellcome Images is one of the world’s richest and most unusual collections, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science. All our images are available in digital form so please click the link above if you would like to use the picture that features in this post, or to quickly find related ones. Many are free to use non-commercially under the terms of a Creative Commons licence and full details of the specific licence for each image are provided.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 2 Aug, 2013 9:58 am

    What a lovely post! Very interesting and though provoking :) thanks for sharing

  2. Fay permalink
    2 Aug, 2013 6:19 pm

    Who couldn’t love this infectious laugh

  3. Zelda Poke permalink
    5 Oct, 2013 4:08 am

    We really don’t know the capabilities of these wonderful people until everyone can look PAST the disability and see the human being! My 33 yr. old is now 33 and has been working in a working nursing home for over 10 years, and I am so proud of her!

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