CoorDown, Italy’s national organization for people with Down Syndrome, has launched a conversation-changing initiative, #NotSpecialNeeds, with the goal of driving a cultural shift in the approach to Down syndrome awareness. The Not Special Needs campaign, introduced in time for World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, features a digital film entitled, Not Special Needs, spotlighting the paradox in the term, ‘special needs.’ The film stars Lauren Potter, the popular actress with Down syndrome who played the role of Becky Jackson in Glee, and John McGinley, best known for his role as Dr. Perry Cox on Scrubs, and whose 18-year old son Max has Down syndrome. The supporting cast includes, among others: Sam Suchmann and Mattie Zufelt, two friends with Down syndrome who created the movie Spring Break Zombie Massacre, and Jared Kozak, the recognized actor with Down syndrome known for Orson’s Last Dance, Leader of the Pack and Teens Wanna Know. The campaign is online www.NotSpecialNeeds.com, and is supported with social amplification on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as #NotSpecialNeeds.
Sergio Silvestre, President of CoorDown Onlus, stated, “The World Down Syndrome day has great symbolic value for us, and we have been promoting it for some time. It is a day which allows us to reach out to everyone through our campaigns and address important issues. We are really proud to collaborate with Publicis North America in New York and, to once again count on the support of the many international organizations who participate in the project. The main objective of our work is to break down prejudices and stereotypes, and contribute to a profound change in attitude towards people with Down syndrome and more generally to the world of disability. We want to give our young people opportunities and tools that can ensure them a bright future.”
Andy Bird, Chief Creative Officer, Publicis New York, stated, “The term ‘special needs’ is a euphemistic way to speak about persons with disabilities and their needs. The reality is people with Down syndrome do not have different or special needs, although they may sometimes meet those needs in different ways, they have the same needs as all of us… jobs, friends, love and simply the need to be seen and treated equally. We are so proud of this work for our incredible partner CoorDown who does so much great work courageously challenging preconceptions, and we hope our film maybe goes a little way to changing how people view those with Down syndrome.”
CoorDown and The World Down Syndrome Day aspire to give a voice to people with Down syndrome, to promote their full social inclusion and to promote change in the cultural approach to the world of disability. The #NotSpecialNeeds campaign amplifies that message by recognizing that people with Down syndrome may need extra assistance, sometimes significant assistance and adjustments to meet a particular need, yet that doesn’t make their common human need ‘special’. For example, a person who requires help speaking, writing or being understood, still has the same human needs we all share — the need to communicate. The only difference is the degree of assistance, or the way to satisfy that need, not the need itself. This is the message at the core of the campaign: every individual shares the same human needs, which bind us collectively together in mutual respect, empathy and understanding.
The Not Special Needs campaign will be presented to the World Down Syndrome Day Conference on March 21 at the UN HQ in New York, as part of the theme: “MyVoiceMyCommunity – Enabling people with Down syndrome to speak up, be heard and influence government policy and action, to be fully included in the community”.
No Special Needs Credits
The No Special Needs campaign was developed at Publicis New York by chief creative officer Andy Bird, executive creative directors Luca Pannese and Luca Lorenzini, copywriter David Green, art director Jen Wang, director of integrated production operations Tim Ayers, integrated producer Jakub Popadium, sr, lead AD technical developer Scott Jones, interactive developer Dara Mao, chief production officer Lisa Bifulco, producer Chris Muldoon, editor Marc Legana, music producer Rachel Rauch, working with CoorDown, Down Syndrome International, Down Syndrome Australia, Fondation Jérôme Lejeune and Down’s Syndrome Association.
Filming was shot by director Wayne McClammy via Hungry Man with executive producer Kevin Byrne.
Visual effects and puppeteering were by Legacy Effects.
Editor was Christjan Jordan at Rock Paper Scissors with assistant editor Pieter Vijoen, executive producers Rana Martin and Eve Kornblum, and producer Dani DuHadway.
VFX/Post were produced at Shed LA by colorist Billy Hobson, VFX artists Paul O’Shea, Miles Essmiller and Phil Man.
Music, sound design and mix were produced at Beacon Street by composers Andrew Feltenstein and John Nau, executive producer Leslie DiLullo, senior producer Kate Vadnais, mixer/sound designer Rommel Molina, and mix assistant Vivi Rojas.