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Young Calgary boy becomes face of Down syndrome campaign

At just four years old, Kolby Swanson is about to embark on quite the journey. The young Calgarian has been chosen to be part of a campaign that will be featured in New York’s Time Square.

“He will be on the jumbotron,” said his mom Telara Renz, with a smile.

The presentation is for the National Down Syndrome Society.

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

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“There’s not a lot of representation of people with Down syndrome out there,” explained Renz, who hopes her son’s image will help other families.

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“If there’s a mom out there that sees all the joy he brings, you know, maybe that will eliminate the fear when they are receiving that diagnosis.”

Calgarian Kolby Swanson, 4. Courtesy: Remember When Photography

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

“[Diagnosis] comes with a lot of questions and it can be a scary time,” Slater says. “But when you see what a lot of our members and alumni have done and the opportunities they’ve been given and what they accomplish, it helps alleviate some of those concerns.”

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He says Kolby Swanson is a shining example that people with Down syndrome are always “surprising” their loved ones with their achievements.

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After signing with a talent agency, Swanson’s career is just getting started. Besides this campaign, he has several projects in the works, including a commercial.

Renz hopes the campaign inspires people, especially students as they head back to school.

“It’s such a great time to talk to your kids about how cool it is to be kind. People with Down syndrome make really good friends. They have a lot to share and a lot to teach. How cool it is to be kind and ask them to play?”

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