Wigan family stars in campaign to show truth about life with Down's syndrome

A Wigan family will feature in a month-long campaign raising awareness of what life is really like with a child with Down’s syndrome.
Victoria Morrissey and Bryn Rimmer with sons Oscar and RioVictoria Morrissey and Bryn Rimmer with sons Oscar and Rio
Victoria Morrissey and Bryn Rimmer with sons Oscar and Rio

Eight-year-old Oscar Rimmer and his family, from Pemberton, have been chosen to feature in a campaign for Down’s Syndrome Awareness Month, which begins today.

It is being run by Wouldn’t Change A Thing, a parent-led campaign group which works to change perceptions of Down’s syndrome.

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A photograph of Oscar, who has Down’s syndrome, with his brother Rio, five, and parents Victoria Morrissey and Bryn Rimmer, will be shared on social media with the messages #ourtruth and #wouldntchangeathing .

Victoria, who has been involved with the group for some time, submitted the picture of the family for inclusion in the campaign.

She said: “Because the group has grown so much, it’s hard to keep track of all the posts. It was really out of the blue when we were chosen.”

The family hopes to dispel myths around Down’s syndrome and show what it is really like.

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Victoria said: “I wouldn’t change a thing about Oscar and that’s what it’s all about. Life isn’t really that different. It’s just a little bit slower, we have to go the scenic route, but we get there and there’s nothing different.

“It’s about raising awareness. We want new parents or someone who’s just been told they will have a baby with Down’s syndrome that there’s no difference really.

“Oscar has no health issues, he is just full of life and a little lad who goes to mainstream school. He is no different to his younger brother.

“During the lockdown I have been worrying about him not being at school, and home schooling is really hard, but his speech is fabulous. His vocabulary is unbelievable.

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“I just want people to see he is just Oscar, there is no difference, and we are more alike than different.”

Oscar, who attends Westfield Community, has featured in other campaigns by Wouldn’t Change A Thing, including two videos where he used Makaton sign language – one to Michael Buble’s All I Want For Christmas and another for World Book Day telling the story of The Snail And The Whale.

They followed the success of Wouldn’t Change A Thing’s fun video for World Down’s Syndrome Day, featuring 50 mums and their children, which went viral and clocked up more than 350m views worldwide.

This month’s campaign will focus on why families “wouldn’t change a thing” about their children and provides a chance for them to raise awareness of Down’s syndrome.

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At the centre of the initiative is a single and music video entitled Wouldn’t Change A Thing, which will be released today.

Performed and written by The Bitterati and produced by Simon Frankland, whose daughter Neive has Down’s syndrome, it is an urban track which aims to address how people might feel uncomfortable around those with disabilities and why.

Victoria said: “The single is really unexpected. Everyone is going to expect a ballad or something like that and it’s completely not.

“It’s not just about Down’s syndrome, it’s about raising awareness for additional needs. That’s really exciting.”

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The video features children with Down’s syndrome, though numbers had to be limited due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is being accompanied by a campaign across social media of images, short videos and interviews – including the photograph of Oscar and his family – to help break down barriers.

Down’s syndrome is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome and affects one in 1,000 babies born in the UK, according to the Down’s Syndrome Association.

To find out more about the campaign, go to www.wouldntchangeathing.org or search for the group on Facebook.

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