User Menu

63 photographs, 47 chromosomes, 21 children – what do you see?

Children challenge some common misconceptions about Down syndrome

Therese and Rory Coveney’s seven-year-old daughter April, who has Down syndrome, has taken part in 21 Faces, a campaign that aims to encourage people to see the personalities, not just the syndrome.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is the value of these 63 photographs? For the third year in a row, 21 children with Down syndrome have been tasked with showing off their uniqueness, as well as challenging some common misconceptions.

The boys and girls were photographed in each of the past three years, and all share a chromosomal anomaly – each has 47 chromosomes rather than the usual 46. This extra gene material alters the development of the body and brain.

The campaign, by the Down Syndrome Centre, invites the viewer to look past the chromosome – as it does not define them – and see the child.


Elliot photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. The youngest of four, he has one sister, Perin (13), and two brothers, Noah (11) and Dashiel (8).

Likes: He loves his dog, Alfie and adores the trampoline.
Dislikes: Keeping his glasses on!
Hobbies: He is a true showman with a microphone. He gives a mighty performance on a piano!
Testimonial by Mum, Natasha Byram: “Another year has flown already which brings us to the end of preschool and toddler life as we know it! The big milestone is arriving in September . . . Big school!! He is such a determined, enthusiastic discoverer and I can’t wait to see him navigate his way through this next chapter, even though I’m sure I’ll be biting my nails along the way! Elliot is my absolute joy along with his siblings, he can put on an Elvis show like no other, he can surprise me daily and more importantly he can put a smile on any face, and that pretty much is what life is all about!


April photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Name: The youngest in her family, April has two older brothers, Ollie (10) and Thomas (9).

Likes: School, weekends and holidays, Everyone being together, TV, TV, TV.
Dislikes: Brushing her hair, TV being turned off, Sitting in the backseat of the car.
Hobbies: New favourite - gymnastics, Also swimming, dancing, football.
Testimonial by Mum, Therese Coveney: “April is seven now and just finished senior infants. She has had a tremendous year. She has grown up a lot and continues to be extremely happy at school where she is surrounded by children and adults who love her. This year has not been without its challenges. As she is developing and becoming more assertive the challenges have changed. We have learned that her self-esteem is more fragile than we had understood when she was younger. There has been a lot of learning for us this past year as our beautiful little girl is beginning to grow up. Our pride in April and all that she is achieving grows daily. She can be a complete scamp but she is our scamp and she is fabulous.”

3) ELLIE TALBOT (Age: 4)

Ellie photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Ellie has a little sister, Katie (3).

Likes: Absolutely adores Peppa Pig and Vampirina.
Dislikes: Ellie still does not like getting her hair done!
Hobbies: Playgrounds and spending time with other children, Gets super excited when we visit ball places and does not rest the entire time we are there.
Testimonial by Mum, Joann O’Callaghan: “Ellie continues to grow into the amazing girl that I know she is going to be. Her personality is infectious. She puts a smile on anyone’s face that comes in contact with her which her positive and happy attitude. She continues to amaze me every day with her determination to do what comes sometimes easier to other children. I am enjoying every minute watching her as she grows up. We would be lost without the services of the Down Syndrome Centre where Ellie attends Speech Therapy. They are always ready to answer any concerns or questions that I have.”


Daire photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. The youngest in the family (until September), Daire has two older sisters Nia (14) and Clíona (8) and big brother Cillian (10).

Likes: To colour and draw pictures. Loves pretending he is a restaurant waiter and taking everyone’s order (including times when we are in actual restaurants!)
Dislikes: Homework – he tends to say ‘finished’ almost as soon as he sees the homework folders appearing from the school bag!
Hobbies: Cross fit classes, multi-sports, yoga, GAA.
Testimonial by Mum, Nadine Campion: “Dáire is a very outgoing, friendly wee boy. He enjoys many sports activities which he takes part in every week. Apart from his sports Dáire would happily sing, dance and play his guitar to any audience he can entertain including taking over the stage last Christmas when his uncle Gavin James was performing in aid of the Down Syndrome Centre! Last September, Dáire began Junior Infants in St John Bosco’s on the Navan Road and has really enjoyed his first year of National school winning over everyone’s affection at the same time with everyone in the school knowing who he is!

5) LARA GILSON (Age: 6)

Lara photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Lara is big sister to Belle (4).

Likes: Books, writing, cutting, playing with her Barbies, dressing up and YouTube. She loves a cheese sandwich and a cookie too.
Dislikes: When people help her too much. “I don’t need help” is often heard coming from Lara’s mouth.
Hobbies: Ballet, GAA, hip hop dancing and swimming.
Testimonial by Mum, Jackie Carlile: “It is often said that it takes “a village to raise a child” and it does, but for a child with Down syndrome, it can also take a village of people who are inclusive, open minded and believe that with a little help and support that anyone can meet their milestones and achieve their dreams. Fortunately, Lara has many such people in her life and with their help and support this year she has reached some of her biggest milestones to date such as writing independently, performing on stage, passing a Ballet exam and acing Junior Infants!”

6) ALAN RYAN (Age: 7)

Alan photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Alan has a sister, Sophie (10).

Likes: Riding his bike, swimming, football, swing ball, playing on the road outside our house, eating out (his favourite food is a burger), loves babies especially his baby cousins Danielle, Toby and Leo.
Dislikes: Blood tests, Having his hair blow dried or being helped (to which he replies “I don’t need help, I’m seven”).
Hobbies: Soccer, reading, cycling, playing frisbee and swimming.
Testimonial by Mum, Jackie Ryan: “Alan is more than just a cute picture on a poster. He has a valuable role to play in society and he has so much to offer to those around him. He has educated us as a family, the children in his school and everyone he engages with, and we are all the better people for it. He has shown us the importance of patience, understanding, acceptance and diversity. He is capable of so much more than people might imagine. He has a bright future ahead of him, provided the opportunities are made available to him. A world without Alan and people like him would make our society a less colourful, joyful and diverse place in which to live.”


Nina photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Nina has a younger sister, Ella (1).

Likes: Books, dancing, dressing up and anything to do with the clothes, materials and textures!
Dislikes: Avocados, unless they are hidden in a cake or a smoothie.
Hobbies: Wild camping, as of this summer!
Testimonial by Dad, Michal Lemanski: “Nina is our greatest teacher who proves that every day is a miracle; a spectacle woven with wonders, laughter, new discoveries and new people. It’s an act with ups and downs, joys and sometimes tears, which cleans our souls from the egotistic and naive belief that everything in this world has to be perfect and ordinary. Nina doesn’t care about all those nonsense things. She enjoys her little life and walks through it with pride and a big smile. She is a gentle, cheeky, sensible, funny, delicate, intelligent, smart little girl, and she is a caring sister and an empathetic daughter.”

8) AVA LEAHY (Age: 10)

Ava photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Ava has a brother, Dylan (8).

Likes: Music! (Quite an eclectic taste - from Abba to Kanye West), movies, Annie, Sing & Trolls, Peppa Pig, loves dancing and ice cream!
Dislikes: Loud noises and hates to see anyone upset.
Hobbies: Dancing class & annual show, Tivoli Tigers Gymnastics, friendship club, swimming & Bray Lakers.
Testimonial by Mum, Ciara Leahy: “Ava turned 10 in April and it was a huge milestone for her but especially for her Dad and I. We couldn’t believe a decade had gone by. She has turned out to be the most wonderful child. She is happy and very funny. We are lucky that her speech is so good, she loves to imitate people is very social, enjoying having fun with her friends and family. She is becoming increasingly independent at home which is a joy to see. She insists on getting herself ready for school every morning and indeed getting ready for bed every night, even if she argues sometimes that ‘it’s not bedtime yet’.”

9) NOAH KELLY (Age: 3)

Noah photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18.

Likes: His garden swing, The Wiggles, Mr Tumble, music.
Dislikes: Loud noises.
Hobbies: Music and swimming lessons.
Testimonial by Grandmother, Margaret Carty: “My beautiful grandson Noah was born on 14th October 2014. When Noah was born with Down syndrome it was a shock, but I can honestly say that he has brought nothing but joy to our families. Noah is a gentle little boy with a great sense of humour- although he has developed a bit of a stubborn streak lately! He has an infectious laugh and finds the silly antics of his Grandad Ben particularly funny! We are all very proud of this little man and all his achievements so far! Each milestone he reaches is wonderful! Noah is the best little boy and will always be the apple of his Nana’s eye!”

10) JOSHUA CUSSEN (Age: 6)

Joshua photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Joshua has three older brothers, Dylan (16), Christopher (17), and Kai (19).

Likes: Roxy our red setter and Molly our cat. What’s The Story in Balamory, Max & Ruby, Visiting nana and papa.
Dislikes: Being told what to do, Favourite Word - NO!
Hobbies: Football – he is a member of Team 21 Tigers, horse riding, taekwondo with his brother Christopher, swimming – Joshua absolutely loves the water!
Testimonial from Mum, Triona Cussen: “Joshua has been so lucky to have a very close group of friends in Junior Infants. He loves nothing more than having friends home on a playdate or going on playdates. We have seen his confidence soar in this area. His speech and language has improved so much this year which allows him to join in the fun at yard time and make real friendships. He has gone to birthday parties all on his own and never wants to leave at home time. We hope this continues for him.”


Caoimhe photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Caoimhe is the youngest of three, with a brother, Daniel (8), and a sister, Aisling (6).

Likes: Alvin and the Chipmunks, swings and slides, being part of a gang at home, singing and signing her nursery rhymes.
Dislikes: Getting her hair done! Getting into the bath, and then ironically getting out of the bath.
Hobbies: Going to the playground and to her SKIP class at The Down Syndrome Centre.
Testimonial by her Auntie, Emma Tuite: “Caoimhe came into our lives three and a half years ago and has brought nothing but love and happiness to our family. She is an amazing little character with a great sense of fun and mischief. She has achieved so much already but life has been a roller coaster at times between hospital stays, heart surgery and appointments and therapies, but she has fabulous support from her amazing mammy (my sister) and daddy, brother and sister, cousins, nanas and grandads, aunties and uncles. We have all learned so much from her, I for one never thought I’d be learning Lamh (sign language) signs for all the nursery rhymes in my 30s.”

12) FAYE CORCORAN (Age: 9)

Faye photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Faye has a younger sister, Macy (6).

Likes: Singing, dancing and being centre of attention. She loves to spend time with her grandad and eating Tayto crisps
Dislikes: Not getting her own way! Getting her hair done.
Hobbies: Drama class with Stagedoor Ireland, hip hop class and playing Barbies with her sister Macy.
Testimonial by Mam, Claire Corcoran: “Faye has the funniest sense of humour and loves a good laugh. She gets on great with her sister Macy who is the best little sister to Faye. She is very independent and doesn’t like to be rushed which usually results in telling me to ‘have some patience.’ This has been the best year for Faye in school, she has made great progress especially with her reading and we are so proud of her and all the hard work she’s putting in. We only hope she continues to be happy and healthy in the future, every day is brighter & funnier because of Faye and we love her to bits.”


Hazel photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Hazel has an older brother, Jack (12), and younger sister, Cori (7).

Likes: Play dates with her cousins and friends. Going to parks. Favourite food Shepherd’s Pie and a brown bag of chips.
Dislikes: Still not a fan of bed time and not a lover of dogs.
Hobbies: Swimming and athletics in Special Olympics.
Testimonial by Aunt, Karen Depla: “I’m Hazel’s aunt and I have seen our little Madame grow and progress through tough-times, health wise, when she was younger and through those challenging first years in school. Hazel’s determination and enthusiasm for life and learning ensures that she never fails to delight me with her funny one liners, her wonderful writing and drawings and her heartfelt performances of Coldplay songs. All the family were so proud of Hazel when she won a Merit Award in the Write A Book competition this year. Hazel has a knack of bringing out happiness and joy in everyone. She loves seeing her pals at The Down Syndrome Centre’s social skills group, she loves company and we love her.”


Archie photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Youngest in his family (until November), with sisters, Holly (13) and Daisy (10).

Likes: School, food – especially chocolate cake! Food shopping with mammy, going to the cinema, making pancakes at the weekend, spiders!
Dislikes: When it’s time for bed and playtime is over. Waiting!
Hobbies: Playing with his dog poppy and his sisters Holly and Daisy. Playing hide and seek, going to the playground, reading.
Testimonial by Mum, Nicola Smith: “Archie started Montessori in September, something I was very nervous about as he didn’t cope too well with separation. However, in true Archie style he took it his stride and from day one he ran in the door and didn’t look back. I’m so proud of the wonderful little boy he’s growing up to be and I know whatever challenges he might face in life that he’ll be just fine. He has an army of supporters and people who love him around him and he has me his biggest critic, his toughest teacher, the person he loves to surprise and the person who sees his struggles and knows how hard he works and is bursting with pride and who loves him more than words can ever say.... His mammy xxx.”

15) LILAH WARD (Age: 3)

Lilah photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Lilah has a brother, Harrison (5).

Likes: Bows, Peppa Pig, Ben & Holly, colouring books, swings.
Dislikes: Getting her hair brushed!
Hobbies: Watching Peppa Pig, and Ben & Holly, going to the playground, dancing.
Testimonial by Mum, Lorraine O’Brien: “This year Lilah has shown us just how determined she is and continues to surprise us every day! She knows her own mind and has a way of getting what she wants, if we tell her ‘no’ she usually repeats the word ‘please’ until that changes to a yes! She is full of fun and is adored by all the family, we love watching her grow and see her meet her milestones. We waited awhile for those first steps but this year they came, it was such a huge celebration in our house, Lilah is still working hard on her walking and we know she will be up on her feet full time very soon!”


Milo photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Milo has two older brothers, Senan (9) and George (5).

Likes: Paw Patrol, Ben & Holly, bath time, trampoline, Tayto cheese & onion crisps, ice cream, singing along to the Team Titans Go theme tune
Dislikes: Home-cooked food, holding hands when he wants to run off!
Hobbies: Throwing things, stuffing toilet rolls in the toilet.
Testimonial by Mum, Cheri McGuirk: “Milo is a boisterous and energetic child, who wakes up enthusiastic every morning. In the past year he has continued to expand his vocabulary and can now name his whole family, except his mother who he insists on calling “Lala”. He has also learned how to open the front door of the house, which has necessitated the adding of a latch. Milo does not like the latch. This year Milo started Mainstream Montessori Pre-School where he has settled in very well, forming new friendships. The Down Syndrome Centre is invaluable to Milo’s development and helps us get in touch with other parents of children with Downs Syndrome.

17) LIAM CASEIRO (Age: 5)

Liam photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Liam is the eldest, with a younger brother, Senan (3) and younger sister, Fiadh (1).

Likes: Loves playing Doctors, Builders & Shop with his Senan & Fiadh. Wrestling with his Cousins on the Trampoline and going to GAA club with them. Likes quiet time playing with Blocks, Cars and Garage
Dislikes: Getting dressed in the morning. Having his hair washed in the bath.
Hobbies: Gymnastics, football, swimming and GAA.
Testimonial by his Aunty Orlaith: “Liam is phenomenal! His fun loving charm captures the hearts of all who meet him. Whether wrestling and bouncing on the trampoline with his cousins or knocking down towers of blocks in his infectious laugh, is enough to brighten anyone’s day. He knows that a hug and a roguish smile are enough to wriggle his way out of anything and he’s not afraid to use them as required. Liam has a wide circle of friends both young and old and shows great example to his younger brother Senan and baby sister Fiadh with his positive can do attitude. He is all set to make the leap to Big School in September where he will continue to thrive.”

18) EMMA LANDE (Age: 11)

Emma photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Emma has a younger brother, Tom (9).

Likes: Swimming, shopping, trampolining, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, playing the Nintento, Milano’s.
Dislikes: Noisy places and still homework.
Hobbies: Basketball, gymnastics, swimming.
Testimonial by Mum, Elaine Lande: “Emma has had another great year and hard to believe but she will be heading into 5th class in September. Emma loves school and really enjoys heading in every day with her brother Tom, though they still fight over who gets to sit in the front seat every morning! This year Emma won a gold medal at school swimming, she was so proud of herself, and also won the trophy for most improved Junior member at Lakers Basketball Club. Emma has also started to play hockey with Monkstown Strikers and is looking forward to September when the season kicks off again.”

19) NOAH STAUNTON (Age: 4)

Noah photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Noah has two sisters, Tania (14) and Kacey (12), and two brothers, Dylan (6) and Ryan (3).

Likes: Music, dancing, baking, painting, taking his puppy ‘Batman’ out for walks. Playing with his brothers & sisters. Chocolate buttons!!
Dislikes: Loud noises, Dry and hard foods like cereal, chips and biscuits
Hobbies: Swimming, dancing, football and walks to the shops (for chocolate buttons!!!)
Testimonial by Sister, Tania Staunton: “Noah is 4 years old and the past 4 years has been such a roller coaster for us, but especially him. He has a lot of hobbies such as dancing, swimming and he especially loves helping me bake, we bake once or twice a week and he is so good at it. He loves football and comes with my dad and brothers to my football matches, whenever there on, and either sits on the sideline screaming at me and telling me “well done” or holds my water bottle and asks am I ok when I come off and I love him for being that caring to me, it is really special.”

20) SIMON SMYTH (Age: 5)

Simon photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Simon has a sister, Georgina (2).

Likes: Being outdoors, going to the playground, being knee-high in puddles, building sandcastles and Paw Patrol.
Dislikes: Boats and sailing, sweets, chocolate and cake (weirdly enough!).
Hobbies: Football, gymnastics.
Testimonial by Aunty, Alison Sweeney: “My nephew Simon is a fun filled and determined young boy. It’s fair to say Simon is his happiest when outdoors. Like any other 5 year old he loves all things playground related; swings, slides, see-saws and everything in-between. Simon loves getting outdoors, especially when he visits his grandparents in Donegal. He prefers nothing more than being knee high in puddles and muck or building sandcastles at the local beaches. Without fail, Simon always brings a smile to my face and he has an innate ability to make dull moments shine bright.”


Donnchadh photographed in 2016, ’17 and ’18. Donnchadh has an older brother, Danann (7).

Likes: Swings, hoovering, cleaning, hairdryers, Gavin James.
Dislikes: Barbers, doctors, fruit, underground car parks, Being told ‘No’.
Hobbies: Wrestling, going out on his trike, anything involving climbing, ‘work’ (puzzles, threading, sound cards etc.)
Testimonial by Dad, Aidan Gibson: “We often have to tell ourselves to pause and reflect on how far Donnchadh has come in a year as we tend to get swept along with day to day life, not really seeing the gradual subtle changes in him, focusing more in the bigger milestones. Health wise, Donnchadh has had the best year to date. Physically, he is now confidently walking and running (away!) at great speed. Although he still falls regularly, he is usually straight back up on his feet and off again, like most areas of his life. He loves nothing more than flinging himself around obstacle courses that himself and Danann have made from furniture. It’s hard to imagine the tiny, low muscle toned little lad we brought home from hospital on oxygen.”

Go to: 21 Faces: three years of celebrating uniqueness