Column: Gerber Baby spreads awareness of Down syndrome community


By Jordan Long, Round Table reporter

 The Gerber Baby company is taking a step in the right direction by raising awareness for the special needs community. The new Gerber Baby contest winner of 2018, Lucas Warren, has something special about him; he has Down syndrome. The company is hoping that this will help show the community that people with Down syndrome are accepted and not limited. The Gerber Baby Company is touching lives of many with this groundbreaking news. By spreading this message, Gerber is showing that not all people have to fit into society’s “normal.” People should be accepted for who they are.

That doesn’t always happen. In November 2017, a 15-year-old girl, Holly Reed, was bullied by Wellington East College students. They pretended to be her friend and made her complete actions like licking the floor and flashing her breasts while the other students video recorded it and posted it on social media. Holly was not aware of what the girls were doing and this went on for months. The students were making fun of Holly and taking advantage of her because she is a little different than them. For Holly to participate in these actions, not understanding the consequences of what was happening, is not more than rude by the guilty students. It should be criminal.

Fortunately, because of companies like Gerber and the Americans with Disabilities Act, things are changing.The Disabilities Act ensures that “qualified individuals with disabilities are given an opportunity to participate in and benefit from … services, programs, benefits, and employment opportunities.”

There are many advocates for the Down syndrome community. Lauren Potter, an actress who has Down syndrome, portrayed Becky Jackson on the hit tv show Glee.. Potter is standing up for her community by showing that people with disabilities can do anything. Potter said in an interview with Media Planet that, “I think people look at me and think I can’t do I can’t do things because I have Down syndrome…. I have to prove myself time and time again.”

Another advocate for the special needs community is Michael Johnson. Johnson is a self-taught artist who was born with Down syndrome. He’s exhibited his artwork in Vanderbilt University. He’s created over 500 commissioned paintings. He’s not letting his difference get the best of him, and he’s continuing to do what he loves.  

My neighbor who lives down the street has Down syndrome. When we were younger, she used to come up to my house to play. We played catch at my house; we watched the fireworks together every Fourth of July, and said hello to each other in the hallways. We did everything friends would do. Although there is no true definition of normal, we had a stereotypical friendship that any 10-year-olds would have. We laughed and played together; we had a bond together. To this day, even though we don’t see each other as often, we are still friendly with each other and wave when our paths cross.

Many people believe in order to be considered “normal” you have to fit into what society has passed as “normal.” Some people may argue that people with disabilities aren’t capable of living “normally” and don’t deserve the same opportunities as others. But in reality, people with special needs can actually accomplish anything. Lauren Potter and Michael Johnson are achieving their goals and never giving up. They are part of society. Gerber gets that.