This 2-year-old with Down syndrome is breaking down stereotypes around child modeling.
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A&E Born This Way

Tiffany Stafford was flipping through a catalog when she saw a Target advertisement that floored her.

Her two sons, ages 6 and 8, immediately pointed out the model, saying “Mom, she looks just like Sissy!"

Tiffany had never seen something like this before: The child model had Down syndrome, just like her 2-year-old daughter Ellie.


Tiffany's crew (from left): Luke, Ellie, and Will. All photos via Tiffany Stafford, used with permission.

Then she started thinking about Ellie. She's friendly; she's playful; she loves to show off her favorite poses — the idea made sense.

After giving it some thought, Tiffany sent in photos of Ellie to modeling agencies, thinking, “It's worth a shot."

She reached out to agents near Aurora, Oregon, where she lives, and ended up connecting with an agent and ultimately getting Ellie signed to a modeling agency for print publications.

She was excited about the modeling idea for several reasons. First, she knew that Ellie loved being in front of the camera. But, second, and just as important, she believed Ellie would inspire children with disabilities and their parents.

In August 2015, Ellie booked her first campaign for Hooray Haroo, a children's clothing brand based in Portland, Oregon.

“Ellie is such a natural," Tiffany said. “She has some go-to poses like pushing her shoulder up, or putting her finger to her cheek ... we call that her 'model pose.'"

In modeling mode.

One of the best surprises came from the people who saw the advertisements. Tiffany received tons of love from family and friends, and eventually even from media outlets. KGW Portland interviewed her to do a story on Ellie, and a few days later she received a call from a friend that the story had been picked up by USA Today.

Tiffany says a lot of Ellie's success came about after she saw the inspiring work of the nonprofit organization Changing the Face of Beauty.

The group aims to get people of all abilities into mainstream advertisements and media, and they were able to collaborate on a campaign.

Tiffany is an advisory board member of the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network and has recently joined forces with Changing the Face of Beauty to launch the campaign “Who's Next?" which encourages individuals with disabilities and their families to call out retailers and suggest they be more inclusive in their advertisements.

The less-serious side of modeling.

Tiffany doesn't want to push Ellie into a certain career.

She's not obsessed with the idea of raising a fashion icon (it's fine if Ellie doesn't want to be a model).

But for the moment, she is excited to help battle the stigma around having a developmental disability.

Tiffany's hope?

That the next generation will be even more understanding and loving toward people of all abilities.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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