When Julie Willson’s sister, Dina, passed away four years ago, she lost the most important person in her life. Her sister, who was so full of life, taught everyone else in the family what it means to love and be loved — and how to do so unconditionally. She taught them what it takes to be a devoted daughter, a loyal friend, and a once-in-a-lifetime sister.
Dina also proved to everyone she met that having Down syndrome was not a burden, but a blessing that made her truly unique. For that reason, Willson, the photographer behind JuleD Photography, decided to create a collection of photos that would not only honor her beloved Dina, but also people with Down syndrome all over the world.
According to Willson, getting to know someone with Down syndrome is an honor and a privilege.
“I am one of those people who has been greatly blessed by growing up with a sister who had Down syndrome,” she writes. Willson knows for a fact that no one will ever bring a brighter light into her life than Dina did.
That’s why she decided to round up some beautiful babies — all of whom have Down — and create a stunning photo collection that highlights their joy, curiosity, and laughter.
She writes, “I wanted to be able to turn my photographs into art that would capture the true beauty of those with Down syndrome.”
Willson wants to flip the script on the idea that children with Down syndrome are somehow less happy and full of life than other children.
Her photos — and her adorable subjects in all their quirky, giddy glory — prove that this preconceived notion is absolutely false.
During the shoot, though, she learned something devastating from one of the moms.
Apparently, 92 percent of expectant mothers who are told that their children may have Down syndrome choose to terminate their pregnancies.
Hearing those words devastated the photographer, who associates nothing but endless warmth and love with people who have Down syndrome.
In that moment, her mission became clear: through her photographs, she wants people to “see these children and know that, if they are having a baby who has been diagnosed with Down syndrome — although it may be scary — they will be blessed beyond words.”
She wants nothing more than for people to see her photos and realize how happy and fulfilled these families are.
Her ultimate goal? Well, it’s pretty simple.
“I want to change minds.”
(via Bored Panda)
I have the sneaking suspicion that Willson has done just that. How could anyone look at these children and think, “they’re unhappy,” or, “they must be miserable.” Their faces tell an entirely different story — one of complete happiness —and Julie Willson’s photographs are helping them share it with the world.