A new step out onto the catwalk


A MODELLING agency for people with Down syndrome was launched in Dublin yesterday, World Down Syndrome Day. The founders of I’m Able 2 Model say it is the first such agency in the world.

Sheila Campbell, the chief executive of the Down Syndrome Centre, said the idea for the agency came in 2008 when the centre had members participate in University College Dublin’s Fashion Week.

“When our members came out on the catwalk, the place just erupted. It added so much to the event. It just struck me at the time that our young people got so much out of it and it benefited everyone. It showed that young people come in all shapes and sizes, and those with Down syndrome can participate alongside their peers.”

She said she approached Jules Fallon of the First Option modelling agency, who was “completely open to it”.

A day’s casting has resulted in an agency with 20 models, including children, teenagers and adults, on the books. It operates independently, but under the auspices of First Option.

Asked why the models are not simply on First Option’s books rather than in a “special” agency, Campbell said it had not occurred to her to integrate the models. “This is about putting our foot forward. I’m not sure what to expect, but I hope it will mean ad agencies and the like will consider using our models alongside others.”

See imable2model.com