An inspiring video starring a remarkable group of children with Down’s Syndrome is capturing hearts around the nation and challenging outdated stereotypes.
The heartwarming video shows off a group of children with Down’s Syndrome who are part of a very special drama group – a group that’s produced a BBC star on an award-winning show.
They’re proving there’s far, far more to them than the condition that 41,000 live with in the UK.
The video is part of a high-profile national campaign called ‘Hands Up For Down’s’ by the Swansea-based charity of the same name, alongside stage school and talent agency Mark Jermin – all part of Down Syndrome Awareness Month this October.
The video asks the questions – “Hands up if you see the child? Hands up if you see the disability? Hands up if you see what’s beneath that?’’ – with the children showing off exactly what they are capable of and what the child can be when they grow up, despite their disability.
One of the stars is nine-year-old Olivia Southgate who, through the drama group run by Mark Jermin, has landed a role in the BBC BAFTA-award-winning drama In My Skin. Olivia plays the role of Ffion in the hit series.
Leading acting coach and talent agent Mark Jermin said: “Approximately 41,000 people live with Down’s Syndrome in the UK and it’s absolutely vital we break the stigma and stereotypes associated with them.
“Hands Up For Down’s is our way of doing that. This video shows we can put our hands up and listen to the child beneath it.”
The video is played to the hit tune of ‘Hands Up, Baby Hands Up’ by Boney M. The video playing to the aptly-named tune was the brainchild of Mark, when the children of the charity asked him to help create a performance to raise awareness this October.
Mark and the team jumped straight to it and contacted Boney M directly and received the rights to the song for the video!
The group, funded by Swansea City Council, meets weekly at Swansea arts centre Venue No.1, part of the Mark Jermin group.
Mark added: “I love teaching the children each week and we really wanted to produce something that helped people to understand what the children are capable of despite their disability. We thought that the song choice was very aptly chosen and got to work right away on the campaign’’
The Hands Up For Down’s charity is trying to raise funds to create an annual ball where children and parents can celebrate and meet like-minded people, while creating a collaborative space to honour their members each year. A JustGiving fundraising campaign has been launched to achieve this alongside the video. You can donate here
The video has sparked an emotive reaction on social media with the inspiring performances by the children. Down’s Syndrome is a condition in which a person has an extra chromosome in their genetic make-up but that doesn’t mean they will develop in the same way – all children in the class have different levels of abilities and needs all of which are showcased and celebrated in the video.
Mark added: “All of this comes from the children’s weekly drama classes in which they study mime, roleplay, confidence building and so many more skills that help them to be the best version of themselves.”