Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Boy with Down's Syndrome launches modelling career as one of the new River Island Kids Squad

Joseph Hale, 11, is a member of the new RI Kids Squad. Credit: PA/River Island

A young boy with Down's Syndrome has joined a major new campaign for high street store River Island - as his mother says she hopes it will improve understanding.

Joseph Hale, aged 11, is one of eight youngsters who make up the new RI Kids Squad, which aims to celebrate individuality.

His mother Karen said she was "immensely proud" of her son, adding that to get the message of "inclusion and diversity out there is absolutely amazing".

She said she hoped Joseph's inclusion would help overcome the "negativity" about Down's Syndrome.

Joseph (third from right) is one of eight children on the RI Kids Squad. Credit: PA/River Island

"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 said.

"I think people need to see the positives. [Down's Syndrome] is not the be all and end all, they can go on to have really good enriched lives."

She added:

He doesn't pre-judge, he doesn't see people as different - everybody is the same to him, everybody is his friend. And if he can see that everybody is the same, why can't people do that with him and other people with disabilities?

These youngsters and young people are a massive part of our society and they need to be treated the same.

– Karen Hale, mother
Joseph took to modelling 'like a duck to water', his mother said. Credit: PA/River Island

Joseph, who lives with his mother, his father Andrew, and older brother Samuel in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, also suffers with Global Developmental Delay and dyspraxia.

Mrs Hale said Joseph had taken to modelling "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," she added.

Josie Cartridge, customer director of River Island, said they were "thrilled" to have Joseph as part of the campaign.

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.

We hope by being more inclusive, this will help achieve wider acceptance for people with disabilities.

– Josie Cartridge, River Island