Taya Kennedy isn't your average baby model. The 14-month-old has a beautiful smile and a twinkle in her eye, which is why it's no surprise that she's been a major success in the kid-modeling world. But it is the fact that she has Down Syndrome that separates her from other young models her age.
There's simply something unique and inspiring about Taya.
"Taya is an incredibly photogenic, warm and smiley child, and that shines through in her photographs," explains Alysia Lewis, the owner of Urban Angels, the UK modeling agency that signed the child.
Lewis explains that the agency only selects a few new children to work with each season. With standards remaining quite high, Taya was one of about 50 kids who were inevitably selected from a pool of about 2,000 applicants.
According to Lewis, the fact that Taya has Down Syndrome didn't play a role in the company's decision to take her as a model. "She was just what we were looking for," Lewis explains.
Major retailers have already worked with Taya, who is described as bright and easy to photograph (her mother claims that she rarely cries). Her bubbly disposition is evident in the pictures that are taken of her.
Gemma Andre, Taya's mother, is ecstatic about her young daughter's success. She explains that she has always thought her baby was "stunning," but she explains, "I'm her mum. I'm biased."
But when the agency called with interest in her daughter, her suspicions were confirmed: Taya is an adorable young child with much to offer the modeling world.
Andre isn't a stage mom, either. See, she's elated over her daughter's career because successfully competing with the other children to gain Urban Angels' attention shows that the young child has the ability to be on par with her peers -- something that serves as a comfort to parents of Downs children.
"People can be really negative about children with Downs. They say they can’t do this and won’t be able to achieve that. It’s incredibly frustrating," Andre explains. "Someone said to me the other day: 'I suppose she’ll never be able to live an independent life,' and I said, 'Why on earth not?'”
Andre explains how offensive it can be when people come to her and show sympathy over her daughter's condition. Rather than lamenting Taya's Downs, she says, "The way I see it, some people cannot even have children and God has given me this special child."
Andre will not allow Taya to be limited by her disability. She holds lofty goals for her daughter and plans to see her fulfill them. Following the child's birth, Andre says that she was told about all of the things her daughter would never be able to do. But she refuses to allow this list to dictate Taya's future. The young child has already defied so many odds; modeling is only the beginning.
"I am determined Taya will have as many chances in life as any other child," says Andre. "I want her to go to dancing school. She loves music and has a sense of rhythm; she sways and claps her hands when I sing to her."
And the inspiration doesn't end there.
"I’m already saving for her to have driving lessons. I have a fund for her to go to university," she explains. "I want to prove to Taya that any goal in life is attainable. It doesn’t matter that she has Down Syndrome. She can still achieve. I want her to be an inspiration to others."
Already, this child's smile is enough to brighten anyone's day.
(H/T: Mail Online)