Target praised for ad that uses child model with Down syndrome

It was just a few weeks ago that some parents were angry enough at Target to stage nationwide nurse-ins (read a post about that here), but now the company is drawing praise for an inclusive children’s ad.


A Target ad featuring a boy with Down syndrome. (Courtesy of Target)

The ad has received attention from scores of parents and advocates. “They said that people born with Down syndrome deserve to be treated the same as every other person on this planet,” said a father of a child with Down syndrome on his blog, Noah’s Dad.

The blog’s author lives in Texas and asked me to identify him by only his first name, Rick, to maintain his family’s privacy. He said his post on the subject has inspired thousands of parents to reach out to him.

The 6-year-old in the advertisement, Ryan Langston, has modeled before, most notably in a Nordstrom campaign last year. Ryan’s parents told the Web site Disability Scoop that their son adores modeling: “He’s so proud of himself, and it is a huge confidence booster.”

It’s a confidence booster for many others, too.

Children with Down syndrome have been featured on occasion in other advertisements and on television shows such as Fox’s “Glee.” But widespread representation of them, or really any special-needs child, is still a rare thing.

That’s why Target is also receiving praise for not not making an issue of featuring Ryan. No press releases, media blitz or other to-do.

It was only after I asked that a Target spokeswoman Jessica Carlson sent me the following statement:

“Target is committed to diversity and inclusion in every aspect of our business, including our advertising campaigns. Target has included people with disabilities in our advertising for many years and will continue to feature people that represent the diversity of communities across the country.”

In other words, “No big deal.” And for some parents, that is a very good deal.

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