Olivia Wilde emerges as a spokesperson for Down Syndrome in a touching new video, “How Do You See Me?”
Ms. Wilde worked on the video along with her co-star, AnnaRose Rubright, to mark World Down Syndrome Day. The public service announcement was produced by Coordown, Italy’s national organization for people with Down syndrome.
Coordown teamed up with New York advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, to address discrimination. It is the fifth year that the two companies have combined forces. Luca Lorenzini, the Global Creative Director of Saatchi & Saatchi New York, said that working with CoorDown is always exciting.
“This year we’re thrilled to work with world-class artists including director Reed Morano and actress Olivia Wilde, as their magic touch will help make this message even stronger and louder than ever before.”
— olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) March 15, 2016
The Saatchi website explains that the message is meant to show how people with disabilities are so often underestimated.
“This metaphor is aimed to ignite a conversation around how those living with Down syndrome see themselves and how they are sometimes disadvantaged when people pre-judge them based on their condition. People with Down syndrome are often victims of discrimination, and even more than what is said about them, the way other people look at them is a common indicator of this type of prejudice.”
The Saatchi website said that the campaign also includes the hashtag, #HowDoYouSeeMe, “to help amplify a call to action and continue the conversation.”
AnnaRose Rubright is a 19-year-old college student from Medford, New Jersey. She works part time at a physical therapy and fitness center and is a Special Olympics athlete.
According to the Medford Sun, Rubright is the eldest of six girls, and she is no stranger to championing the cause of inclusion. In fact, her family and the local community started The Anna Foundation for Inclusive Education (AFFIE).
— Down Syndrome Int. (@DSiupdate) March 17, 2016
AFFIE’s mission is to meet the typical needs of the Down syndrome community and to highlight the abilities of individuals with Down syndrome. One of their first efforts was, “The Maul Haul,” a back-to-school shopping experience where 40 mainstream teens are paired together with those who have disabilities. Becca Rubright, Anna’s sister, explained the concept of peer modeling.
“At this event, we are not only giving students with disabilities the opportunity to go shopping with someone who treats them as an important individual, but we show typical students how fun it can be to interact with their peers, regardless of ability. We teach students to have an open mind and to give others a chance before they pass judgment on them, while simultaneously offering a new opportunity to someone who wouldn’t necessarily have that.”
The event has grown over the eight years since its inception and is now sponsored by businesses in several surrounding counties.
Beyond the Maul Haul and social inclusion, AFFIE offers programs in Literacy, Health, Hygiene, and Safety, and assistance to teachers with programs like Professional Development and “Teacher’s Toolbag.”
AFFIE’s founder, Lin Rubright, echoed the sentiments of the new Coordown ad.
“You can’t know what other people are like unless you spend time with them. We’re giving social awareness to so many young people in a fun and inclusive way that also adds a little economic experience to students who may not have had that exposure yet. We really feel like we are hitting all the buttons at once with this event. These students that help start out thinking they are completing an act of kindness, and learning instead how much they have in common with these ‘other’ students. They build friendships and share laughs.”
World Down Syndrome Day falls on Monday, March 21.
[Image via Allan Bregg/Shutterstock]