For the first time in history, one-year-old Lucas Warren of Dalton, Georgia with down syndrome has been chosen as the 2018 Gerber baby and Airdrie Special Olympics mother Chantal Peterson says she's pleased to see something like this.
Peterson has a son named Luke, an 11-year-old athlete on Airdrie's Special Olympics floor hockey team. She says that seeing the new Gerber baby selection pleases her, not because it's something special, but because it should be something accepted as normal.
"It pleases me because it gives a chance for people to see down syndrome in a different light, rather than just the disability or someone that you see in school. (They're) someone in the community like everyone else."
Peterson says that something like this should not be celebrated as something special, but as just another baby who won the Gerber competition and that they haven't told their son about the baby.
"Actually, no! No. We haven't shown him that. It's funny, he notices other people who have down syndrome, he's like 'Mom, there's a (kid) like me'. We haven't shown him the video actually because I guess to us, it's not, I guess this kind of sounds bad, but it's not anything special. It's what we hope, right? That this is just a regular occurrence, that anybody with down syndrome or anybody with any disability will be around and for people to see."
However, Peterson says, in the past, her son's diagnosis was not always seen as such.
"Unfortunately. He was born into a group called Ups and Downs, a Calgary down syndrome society, and their support group has been able to get through those adverse situations, such as in school or going to after-school care or belonging to (specific) clubs of the different ways parents have been able to deal with it. To go in and say 'how about if we do this', a kind of way to cut that off before it becomes a difficult situation."
In the recent year, Peterson describes her son's treatment as getting better.
"I would say finally this year I have noticed that, in his daycare, there's a girl (...), who loves him for who he is. There's no 'well we can't do that' because he doesn't understand, that he's like everybody else, he's treated like everybody else. This year I feel like that's happening at school and happening at (his) daycare."
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