If you were casually flipping through your most recent Target catalog this past Sunday, you probably noticed an ad featuring a particularly lovely little girl playing with an activity cube. Her name is Izzy Bradley, and she's a 2-year old from Stillwater, Minnesota who has Down Syndrome.
The photogenic mini-model was handpicked to appear in the ad after Target reached out to her mom, Heather Bradley, the president of the local chapter of the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network, asking if she knew anyone who would be interested. It turned out to be the perfect role for Izzy, who loves taking pictures and posing with her big sisters.
"She did really well. She sat still while they did her hair and makeup. She pretty much cooperated the whole time," Heather
This was not the first time that Target included someone with the chromosomal condition in one of their ads. In January 2012, Noah Smith, another child model with Down Syndrome, was featured along with other children . Like Smith's dad, Izzy's mother is appreciative of the chain store's efforts to make kids with the condition feel just everybody else.
"I really appreciate Target putting them in their ads. I think it really normalizes Down syndrome and helps people see we are really like any other family," Heather said.
The mother also said she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and positive responses to the ad, both through letters and via social media.
"I'm really surprised at how much excitement has come from it. I've had people share it so many times. On Facebook, one site it's got up to half a million likes," Heather said.
According to recent statistics, who find out their unborn baby has a high chance of Down Syndrome choose to have an abortion. Which is why it's so important for ads like these to show that, despite the obvious difficulties of the condition, it is possible to have a fun and wonderful life.
"I really just hope that if a new mom, or an expectant mom, were to see a little girl in an ad that they would just have that sense of hope for their child, and that they would know really there's a great future for them," she said.