Calendar star Bethany, 5, is changing perceptions of Down's Syndrome

A schoolgirl is enjoying life in front of the camera as she appears in two calendars raising awareness of Down's syndrome.

Friday, 7th December 2018, 11:22 am
Updated Friday, 7th December 2018, 12:30 pm
Five-year-old Bethany Parr with proud parents Ian and Beverley

Five-year-old Bethany Parr, who has the genetic condition, was selected to feature in both a 2019 calendar and an online Advent calendar for the Wouldn’t Change A Thing campaign.

She previously took part in a Carpool Karaoke-style viral video for the organisation, which aims to challenge negative perceptions of Down’s syndrome.

Her mum Beverley Parr, from Leigh, is committed to supporting the cause and changing people’s views.

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A picture from the calendar photo shoot by Jaynie Acton

She said: “It has been negative for years and years. When I was a little girl, when people had Down’s syndrome they were locked away and told they couldn’t be helped. They didn’t realise how great the capacity is for them to learn and what they can do. They were just written off.

“Now people are saying they can do something. You see photographers with Down’s syndrome and models with Down’s syndrome and teaching assistants with Down’s syndrome.

“Bethany will get there eventually, she is just taking the scenic route compared to typical children. The difference in what she can do now compared to 12 months ago is astronomical.”

Because so many parents wanted their children to appear in the calendar, a random generator was used which selected Bethany.

She took part in a photo shoot with photographer Jaynie Acton and is one of six children to appear for the month of February.

A total of 50 youngsters are featured in the calendar, which has now been printed and will be distributed soon.

Beverley said: “The front cover is lovely. It’s all the children dressed up as superheroes. They have tried to do their birth month. Bethany is February so she has hearts and flowers and things.

“Quite a lot of photographers have given up their time for free to do photo shoots with the children.”

Beverley has already ordered copies of the calendar and said around 40 of her friends had also pledged to buy it.

She hopes the calendar will help to raise vital funds for the campaign, particularly during December which she said can be a “terrible time” for children with Down’s syndrome as they are at risk of pneumonia and other illnesses.

She does not have to wait until 2019 to see Bethany in a calendar, as she is also one of the stars of an Advent calendar being posted on social media by Wouldn’t Change A Thing.

The calendar will feature videos of families using Makaton to sign a word related to the festive season.

Bethany, a pupil at Rowan Tree Primary School in Atherton, uses a communication system called signalong. While she understands more than she can say, she is learning new signs every day and uses them to communicate.

Bethany will appear in the calendar on December 13. Beverley said: “We sign the word ‘reindeer’. There is a different word for every single day. It’s good because it’s showing people these are the signs.”

She said the family was determined to promote the campaign, which has provided support and works to change people’s views of Down’s syndrome.

To buy the 2019 calendar, go to The Advent calendar can be viewed on the Wouldn’t Change A Thing Facebook page.