'Modelling is an extreme confidence booster for him': Meet Ryan, the six-year-old with Down's syndrome who is stealing the show in ads for Target and Nordstrom

With his floppy blonde hair, blue eyes and natural manner front of the camera, it is not difficult to see why Target has cast child model Ryan in its newest childrenswear ad.

But the retailer has taken an unusual step in doing so, as the six-year-old suffers from Down's syndrome.

Though it is not the first to do so – Ryan also appeared in an ad for Nordstrom several months ago – Target today was the subject of universal praise, not only for using Ryan in the first place, but also for not publicising the casting.

Child star: Six-year-old Ryan (far left), who has Down's Syndrome, appeared in an ad for Target this week

Child star: Six-year-old Ryan (far left), who has Down's Syndrome, appeared in an ad for Target this week

A blog called Noah's Dad, penned by the father of another child with Down's syndrome, was one of the most significant.

He wrote: 'This
wasn't a “Special Clothing For Special People” catalog. There wasn’t a
call out somewhere on the page proudly proclaiming that “Target’s proud
to feature a model with Down syndrome in this week’s ad!”… In other words, they didn’t make a big deal out of it. I like that.'

He then proceeded to explain exactly why Target's actions sent such a positive message about Down's Syndrome.


Model behaviour: The youngster has also modelled childrenswear for major clothing retailer Nordstrom

It's time for organizations to be intentional about
seeking creative ways to help promote inclusion, not exclusion,' he said. 'It's
no accident that Target used a model with Down syndrome in this ad; it
was an intentional decision.'


Down's syndrome, also known as Down Syndrome is named after John Langdon Down, the British physician
who first described the condition in 1866.

It is caused by a chromosomal abnormality by which a child is
born with three copies of the 21st chromosome.

Symptoms can vary dramatically, but people with Down's syndrome usually share similar facial characteristics, a lower IQ and intellectual disability – though with support, many graduate from high school and have jobs.

They also share a a higher risk
of heart defects, gastroesophageal diseases, hearing loss,
sleep apnea, thyroid problems and obesity.

It occurs in one in 733 births with a raised incidence in older parents.

Down's syndrome can be diagnosed both during pregnancy or at birth.

Source: Wikipedia

He added that 'companies don’t have to call attention to the fact that
they choose to be inclusive in order for people to notice their support
for people with disabilities. In fact, by not making a big deal out of
it they are doing a better job of showing their support for the special
needs community.'

His powerful words attracted the
attention of Ryan's mother, who told him that the modelling experience
has been a positive one for her son, too.

'We are
very pleased that Nordstrom placed Ryan in their catalog,' she wrote in another post on Noah's Dad. 'The whole
process of modeling is an extreme confidence booster for him. He
received so much warmth and caring from the Nordstrom crew that he
thought they were there just for him!

'We are honored that Ryan is making
the Down syndrome community proud. He is a beautiful boy inside and
out. He makes us better parents, and a better family.'

Earlier this year, another child with Down's Syndrome made an impact on the modelling world.

16-month-old Taya Kennedy was signed to an agency in the UK, and her lively personality already has major firms lining up to cast her.