11-year-old Joseph Hale has Down’s Syndrome and he’s now one of the faces of River Island’s campaign, which launched on Friday in a bid to celebrate diversity.
‘The idea of the squad was to create a diverse group of children to portray “squad goals”, Joseph is great fun with an infectious laugh and star presence,’ says Josie Cartridge, customer director of River Island.
‘We hope by being more inclusive, this will help achieve wider acceptance for people with disabilities.’
Joseph’s mum, Karen, says that she’s ‘immensely proud’ of her son and that the campaign’s message of ‘inclusion and diversity out there is absolutely amazing’.
However, she says that there’s still a lot of work to be done to challenge the way Down’s Syndrome is viewed.
‘Anybody with special needs and or a disability needs to be included in everything and anything – they can thrive and they just need to be given that chance to show they are just the same as everybody else,’ she says.
‘I think people need to see the positives, it is not the be all and end all, they can go on to have really good enriched lives.
‘He doesn’t pre-judge, he doesn’t see people as different – everybody is the same to him, everybody is his friend.
‘If he can see that everybody is the same, why can’t people do that with him and other people with disabilities?’
She says that Joseph has really enjoyed modelling and that he ‘took to it like a duck to water’.
‘He gets quite excited when he sees his photo, he is very happy. His school have been very supportive as well.’