Kitchener-Waterloo

More to Me photo series challenges stereotypes about people with Down Syndrome

Every day this month, the Waterloo Regional Down Syndrome Society is sharing photos online of people in the region with Down Syndrome and quotes from their families in hopes of fostering understanding about people with the disorder.

Waterloo Regional Down Syndrome Society publishing photos every day this month

Five-year-old Noelle Hart is one of 51 people who are featured in the More to Me photo series. (Submitted by Hilary Gauld Camilleri)

When Tara Hart's daughter Noelle was born, the mother of five decided to be pragmatic.

She had never raised a child with Down Syndrome before. Hart promised herself she wouldn't push too far or dream too big.

Hart says Noelle has showed her she was wrong.

"Any limitations are solely mine and completely not hers," she said.

"[Noelle] is constantly teaching me to raise my expectations."

Noelle is five years old now. She's one of 51 children and young adults featured in the Waterloo Regional Down Syndrome Society's More to Me photo series.

Every day this month, the society is sharing photos online of people in the region with Down Syndrome and quotes from their families in hopes of fostering understanding about people with Down Syndrome.

It's the fifth year the Waterloo Regional Down Syndrome Society has worked to dispel misconceptions about Down Syndrome through portraits.

Full range of emotions

Hart, who is also the co-chair of the society, says one of the biggest pieces of misinformation is that kids with Down Syndrome are always happy. Although her daughter is joyful, her emotions extend far beyond that, said Hart.

"People with Down Syndrome have a full range of emotions, just like everyone else," said Hart.

Hilary Gauld Camilleri photographed the More to Me series and has been capturing the portraits for the Waterloo Regional Down Syndrome Society for the past five years.

She tries to capture real moments; reserved moments, moments of contemplation and happiness.

For Gauld Camilleri, sharing images people normally don't see and insights from families not always heard from is critical in challenging stereotypes around Down Syndrome.

"I've had some personal messages from people who've said they've stopped and looked and smiled more than they normally would. That they've actually taken a second look, which I think is really important," said Gauld Camilleri.

The photos will be shared on the Waterloo Regional Down Syndrome Society's Facebook and Twitter feeds throughout the month, and will also be released as part of a charity calendar in November.

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