Leeds support group’s photo project for Down Syndrome awareness day

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A photography exhibition capturing moments in the lives of Leeds families is being launched ahead of World Down Syndrome Day on Monday.

Sunshine and Smiles- Leeds Down Syndrome Network, a support group in the city, has organised the I Am Me project to raise awareness and dispel myths.

Julie Britton, with her daughter Connie Rose Seabourne, at the exhibition.

Julie Britton, with her daughter Connie Rose Seabourne, at the exhibition.

A series of images by photographer Andy Lord showing children and young people go on display at Kirkstall Abbey Visitors Centre from today.

Ailith Harley-Roberts, service manager at Sunshine and Smiles, said: “The idea is that it’s images which capture moments of joy, or celebration or more quiet reflection but they are then contrasted with some of those initial questions that parents and carers had when they learned their baby had Down Syndrome.

“It’s trying to raise the profile and show what people with Down Syndrome can contribute to society, to try and dispel some of the myths and preconceptions and also to reflect the reality of an unknown journey when you start out on it.”

She added that the project aimed to increase understanding in the wider community: “We want it to be a celebration and to be positive images of people with Down Syndrome, but also a balance showing real life.

“The photos are absolutely fantastic and the words that the families have shared are really powerful.”

The images, which have been printed by Ark Display, are intended to be an initial set with the hope that in future the exhibition will be expanded and a book eventually created.

“The aim is that it becomes a much bigger touring exhibition featuring as many families as want to be involved,” Ailith said.

A launch event was taking place today from 10am until 3pm, and the exhibition will be open daily until March 25, apart from on Monday when the centre is closed.

The images and text from the exhibition will also be shown on the big screen in Millennium Square from today, while the First Direct Arena will be lit up blue and yellow for the next three evenings in support of World Down Syndrome Day.

Visit www.sunshineandsmiles.org.uk.