You-Can’t-Put-Me-Down Syndrome: Challenging the protocols for new parents at diagnosis

You-Can’t-Put-Me-Down Syndrome: Challenging the protocols for new parents at diagnosis

The start of a new life should be a positive experience.

But if your child is diagnosed with Down syndrome, it’s not. 

Current healthcare protocols mean expectant parents are offered termination in the same conversation as diagnosis.

To help change this narrative, and challenge current protocols, VMLY&R Commerce has launched “You-Can’t-Put-Me-Down-Syndrome” a cultural movement in partnership with PADS charity [Positive About Down syndrome – by parents for parents and parents-to-be] to change negative connotations around Down syndrome. As Shelby McCloud, commented on BBC Look North, “I’m the same as everyone – I just take a little longer.”

Nicola Enoch, chief executive of Down Syndrome UK and PADS observed,“There's a lot of negativity and ignorance around Down syndrome – a lot of stereotyping and outdated attitudes. We believe the arrival of every baby should be celebrated, every parent given the best possible support, every child given the opportunity to flourish and thrive. So, there’s an urgent need to rewrite the narrative, challenge current protocols from a place of experience and absolute understanding. This movement is having great impact. I’m delighted.”

To capture the full and rewarding lives of young people from the community, the agency’s photographic campaign features fourteen portraits of fourteen remarkable people. From a BAFTA-nominated TV presenter with Bring-The-House-Down Syndrome, to an influencer with Never-Slowing-Down Syndrome, to an NHS worker with Won’t-Let-You-Down Syndrome. The work aims to capture the personality of each person and perceptions they challenge.

The connected campaign featured across multimedia platforms including runs across social, Sky News, Sky Sports, print, digital, out of home at Toni & Guy hair salon and David Lloyd gyms. 

The campaign went to the halls of the Houses of Parliament where Nicola, and the thirteen young voices, could directly challenge the policy that expectant parents of babies with Down syndrome are presented with the choice to terminate.

The You-Can’t-Put-Me-Down Syndrome exhibition persuaded MPs and parliamentarians to support the pledge: “I support the demand to end the current practice that medical practitioners offer an expectant parent their options including terminating, based purely on a diagnosis of Down syndrome.”

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