Paula and Augustus Ferrari are working to combat negative stigma around Down syndrome—one pie in the face at a time.
Last month, Augustus, 2, became a global ambassador for Nothing Down, a nonprofit that aims to spread awareness of Down syndrome through events as well as video and social media campaigns. Having joined the ranks of 33 global ambassadors, the Vineland toddler is responsible for growing and accomplishing developmental milestones while his family shares his progress on social media.
“He’s doing the work and I’m sharing it,” says Paula, Augustus’s mother. Ambassadors also share and take part in events and social media initiatives for the organization. Enter the Nothing Down Pie Challenge, one of Augustus’s first projects. The challenge, now in its third year, is somewhat similar to the “Ice Bucket Challenge” for the ALS Association that circulated widely on social media in 2014. Participants have the option of smashing a pie in their faces or donating to Nothing Down within 48 hours. Afterward, they must nominate three more people to participate. Videos of the challenge have garnered more than 30,000 views across YouTube, Instagram and Facebook combined. Augustus even took a pie to the face himself.
“It’s a fun way to get people talking about the real reason behind the challenge, while raising money for Down syndrome awareness,” says Shannon Daughtry, co-founder of the Linwood-based organization. Ultimately, the goal is to show “there’s nothing down about Down syndrome.”
Paula wants others to know that having a child with Down syndrome can be a blessing. “It’s been amazing,” she says. “I never would have thought in a million years that having a child with a disability would be such a gift to me and my family.”
She describes the experience of watching Augustus and the other ambassadors grow as “humbling” because they work hard at improving skills that many take for granted, like walking and talking.
Paula hopes Augustus will continue his journey into the realm of self-advocacy as he gets older.
“All the things I was afraid of, I shouldn’t have been,” Paula says. “That’s why we do what we do, to show people there is nothing to be afraid of and it’s really the biggest blessing we could have received.”Click here to leave a comment