Four years after Julie Willson lost her sister Dina, who had Down syndrome, to congestive heart failure, she decided that it was time to do something to remind people about the value of individuals with disabilities.
Willson, a photographer from New Jersey, told Good Housekeeping that she was devastated by the studies showing that as many as 92 percent of unborn babies who are diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. So, in memory of her sister, Willson created an adorable photo series featuring children and babies with Down syndrome.
“I want people to see these children and know that if they are having a baby who has been diagnosed with Down syndrome, although it may be scary, they will be blessed beyond words,” she said.
“Dina was the best thing that could have ever happened to our family. She taught us what true unconditional love is and how to go through life without worries,” she continued. “She would light up any room that she walked into and people were always drawn to her sweet, yet stubborn personality.”
She told A Plus that she hopes her photos and her sister’s story will help fight the stigma and fears that parents often face when they are told that their unborn child has Down syndrome.
Willson said her sister was the “biggest blessing” to her family, and Dina lived twice as long as doctors originally predicted. She said her sister was a very happy person and enjoyed her life.
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One of the families who Willson featured in her photo shoot also shared their story in a video that Willson produced. The family constantly heard discouraging news after they found out that their daughter Kennedy had Down syndrome.
“There’s nobody telling you that it’s an amazing journey … and that she’s going to bring smiles to your life every single day – nobody tells you that,” Kennedy’s mother told Willson. “They tell you that she not going to walk in a year. They tell you that she’s not going to talk in a year. They don’t tell you all the love and everything that she’s going to bring into your family.”
In the past few years, LifeNews has reported numerous stories of families who were pressured to abort their unborn children because of a disability like Down syndrome. Rather than receiving encouragement and support, many of the families said they faced discrimination and often were asked repeatedly to consider abortion.
Fortunately, projects like Willson’s are helping to overcome discrimination against people who have disabilities and shedding light on the value of every human life.