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down syndrome

Photo by Eunice Pais on Canva/Photo by Olena Bohovyk on Canva

Powerful ad shows people with Down syndrome taking control

There can be nothing more frustrating than someone assuming that you don't know how to do something. Oftentimes this occurs for reasons like your gender or age. Someone may assume a petite woman wouldn't know how to fix a car or can't lift something heavy, while someone else may believe that a child can't read a book above their grade level.

These small assumptions not only put people in a box unintentionally, but it can also be sexism, ageism and ableism when it happens to people who are physically or developmentally delayed. An ad put together by CoorDown for World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, tackles the assumptions placed on people with Down syndrome.

People that have Down syndrome are often treated much younger than what they are, even if developmentally they're closer to their numerical age. They even face these misconceptions when it comes to seeking medical treatment, with doctors treating them like children. That's why the CoorDown ad is so powerful. It challenges those misconceptions and inherent biases.

Starring in the commercial is Madison Tevlin, an actor with Down syndrome that stars in the comedy Champions with Woody Harrelson. The ad starts out with Tevlin sitting at a bar as her voiceover says, "hey bartender, you assume that I cannot drink a margarita. So you don't serve me a margarita," as the bartender slides her a colorful soda pop with a straw. 'So I don't drink a margarita. Your assumption becomes reality."

Tevlin goes through different scenarios that point out assumptions being made about her capabilities. Parents who don't think their child with Down syndrome can move out. Teachers who think they can't learn more complicated pieces of literature, with the main point of the commercial being to stop limiting the realities of people who have Down syndrome by making assumptions. People under the video applauded CoorDown for the reminder that people of differing abilities can do all sorts of things if given the chance and appropriate support.

"Nailed it! Let's get beyond thinking it's great that people with developmental disabilities are "invited to the table" and support a paradigm where they are the host of that table," one person writes.

"What a fantastic message! We all need to listen to it. Don’t overlook their potential. They will surprise you," someone else says.

"Bravo! Excellent message and the delivery is amazing! I don't have Down syndrome but I am Autistic, so I have been exposed to so many parents who hold their children back with low expectations," another shares.

One teacher wants to show the commercial to her class but there's an F bomb at the end, so she will have to wait for the censored version. Overall the reaction was nothing but positive and you can watch the incredible ad below.

Chris Nikic wins the Panama City Ironman

The great Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu is known for saying, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." It's a simple but powerful way of approaching goals by seeing them as a series of simple actions, rather than a massive undertaking.

Chris Nikic, 22, has a similar life philosophy that he says helped him become the first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman. An Ironman is an incredible feat of endurance where athletes must complete a 2.4-mile swim in open water, a 112-mile bike ride and a full marathon of 26.2 miles, in 17 hours or less.

In November 2020, Chris completed his first Ironman at Panama City Beach, Florida.

Chris attributes his success by trying 1% more every day. That could mean an extra push up, a few more seconds on the treadmill or one more sit up. "It represents me better than I was yesterday," Chris told News 6.

Chris' father, Nik Nikic, says the philosophy is a way for people to achieve great things without overdoing it and injuring themselves. It also prevents people from biting off more than they can chew and giving up.

"1% is pretty powerful," Nik told Today. "Our hope is that people can take it and apply it in their life. It's a really simple way to get them started on that journey to achieving their potential."

Nik has seen these small incremental changes result in big improvements in Chris' performance.

"He always does a little bit more or a little bit faster each time," Nik said. "It requires a lot of patience to do the 1% … This is designed to be easy and long-term sustainable."

Chris also follows three rules to create lifelong habits. Rule No. 1 is have fun. Rule No. 2 is "there can't be any residual pain." Rule No. 3 is "always just one more."

The 1% philosophy can be applied to a lot more than running a marathon. Imagine if you got 1% better at any skill. After 100 days, you'd be 100% better than when you started. The philosophy can apply to anything from learning a musical instrument to improving your parenting skills.

Eating 1% better every day could completely transform your body in just a few months.

All you have to do is create a plan and stick to it.

Chris and Nik have outlined their philosophy in a new book "1% Better: Reaching My Full Potential and How You Can Too." The book explains how Chris implements the philosophy to achieve his goals such as completing the Ironman or the Boston Marathon.

Nik believes that Chris' achievements are about a lot more than just meeting his personal goals. They give people with Down syndrome a road map for independence.

"The message that we wanna send is: It takes us as parents to be willing to trust to have our kids really be included in the rest of the world," Nik said. "When other people start doing for you, you're not gonna get the benefits of life. You're always gonna be counting on someone else. So our kids need to do more for themselves."

Parking lot dancer Reid Cornish is not your average performer.

Each weekday, Cornish dons his rollerblades and headphones, heads to his parking lot of choice, and puts on a show for everyone within eyeshot. As a person with Down syndrome, Cornish may be underestimated or overlooked by many, but his awesome performances have endeared him to countless Salt Lake City citizens.

His mother told Deseret News that his mission in life is to make people happy, and he does so with his joyful dance moves and contagious grin. Sometimes he spends hours dancing on his rollerblades, which he says keeps him limber. "Skating makes me happy all the time," he told the paper.

Cornish's sister Lisa recently shared a story about him on Facebook that has been shared 30,000 times and is just about the most wholesome thing ever:

"Some professional film producers befriended my brother Reid this year and have been a big boost to him, especially after our mother's passing in June. They learned that his dream is to perform in front of others, so for Christmas they made this video montage of his rollerblading shows in Salt Lake. What a generous gift! I can only imagine the time and love that went into this. (Thank you!) I hope you all enjoy this lively, 5-minute glimpse into my little brother's dreams."

If you need a pick me up today, this video will do it.

You know the Gerber baby, right?

She's an American icon. And if you've ever wandered down the baby food aisle of the grocery store or checked out the pantry of a new parent, you've definitely seen her adorable face peering at you from the label of a tiny jar.

That baby was 91 years old in the early part of 2018. Her name is Ann Turner Cook, and aside from being a teacher and writer of mysteries, she's now the great-grandmother of six.

The photo above was snapped by Chris Colin, a San Francisco-based writer who also happens to be Cook's grandson.

His tweets have recently gone viral for one special picture that's brought two Gerber babies together across multiple generations.

That's right — the OG Gerber baby and the newest Gerber baby just met.

In 2018, Lucas Warren became the latest Gerber spokesbaby, beating out every one of his 140,000 contenders. Warren's not just a pretty face, though; he's also a trailblazer. He's the first baby with Down syndrome to win the contest, bringing some much needed representation to the brand.

Recently, Warren and his parents visited Cook at her home in Florida. According to eyewitnesses (read: the people who were there literally melting into puddles of goo), they were fast friends.

"As soon as we walked into the room, she and Lucas immediately bonded," Warren's parents told People. "Lucas walked right up to her, flashing his signature smile and waving, and we could tell he loved her right away." He also shared his cookies which, if you know babies, says a lot.

Of course, the two also had an obligation to their public, so of course they stopped to take one of the most adorable pictures I have ever seen.

The photo's adorable. And Lucas Warren's new status as the Gerber baby is historic.

One of Gerber's missions is making it clear that every baby is a Gerber baby. Warren being picked as this year's spokesbaby is a step in showing the world that all babies (and, by extension, all people) should be accepted for who they are.

Approximately 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome every year in the United States. Warren's parents want his win to be a symbol of hope to the families of children born with the condition or any other disability.

"We're hoping this will impact everyone — that it will shed a little bit of light on the special needs community and help more individuals with special needs be accepted and not limited," Warren's father told "Today" shortly after the 1-year-old won. "They have the potential to change the world, just like everybody else."

Note: We weren't paid by Gerber for this story — we'd tell you if we were — we just think it's a neat bit of history paving the way for the future.