Of all the gifts Prince William and Kate received for their new son, George, this has to be the sweetest. Tazia Fawley, a 43-year-old woman with Down syndrome, painted a depiction of the Bristol Balloon Festival. It's a brightly-hued, joy-filled painting perfect for a child's room. And Fawley spent six months creating it. Will and Kate make it a practice to turn down most gifts, but they had to make an exception and graciously accepted Fawley's gift. Accepting the painting sends a strong message about fighting the stigma against Down syndrome.
Heart and Sold, an organization that promotes art created by people with special needs, sent a photo of the finished painting to Will and Kate to see if they would accept it. And how could they not? It's adorable, for one thing. But it was also a chance for the couple to embrace the Down syndrome community and draw attention to Heart and Sold.
But more than that, Will and Kate are setting an example for recognizing and valuing the contributions of people with special needs. Suzie Moffat, the director of Heart and Sold, says "In England, there always has been a stigma attached to (Down syndrome), and now that is washed away by the fact that the Duke and Duchess have accepted that painting. For this to happen, it’s kind of turned that negativity around.” The acceptance of the painting also has the power to encourage other people with Down syndrome to pursue their passion for art.
Will paintings from other artists represented by Heart and Sold start flying off the shelves now, just like every dress Kate wears? I don't know -- it would be amazing if they did! But at the least, I think it's probably their hope that this gesture helps change a few people's perspective.
Do you think accepting this gift will change how people in the UK think of people with Down syndrome?
Image via Pacific Coast News