Calgary boy becomes face of Down Syndrome campaign

At just four years old, Kolby Swanson is about to embark on a very special journey. The young Calgarian was chosen to be part of a campaign to be shown in New York's Times Square.

“He'll be on the Jumbotron,” his mother, Telara Renz, said, smiling.

The presentation is for the National Down Syndrome Society.

Swanson, along with several hundred other young people with Down syndrome, will be projected on giant screens on September 9 to spread the message of acceptance.

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“There aren't many advocates for people with Down syndrome,” explained Renz, who hopes her son's picture will help other families.

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“If there's a mother out there who sees all the joy it brings, maybe receiving this diagnosis will take away the fear.”

Calgarian Kolby Swanson, 4th

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Eliminating that fear is something Calgary's Prep Society specializes in when working with families, says executive director Curtis Slater. It is an organization that offers educational spaces, learning centers and support.

“[Diagnosis] comes with a lot of questions and it can be a scary time,” says Slater. “But seeing what many of our members and alumni have done, the opportunities they've been offered, and what they're achieving helps address some of those concerns.”

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He says Kolby Swanson is a shining example of how people with Down syndrome keep “surprising” their loved ones with their accomplishments.

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After signing with a talent agency, Swanson's career is just beginning. Alongside this campaign, he has several projects in the works, including a commercial.

Renz hopes the campaign will inspire people, especially students heading back to school.

“It's a great time to talk to your kids about how cool it is to be kind. People with Down Syndrome are really good friends. You have much to share and much to teach. How cool is it to be friendly and ask them to play?”

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