Correct a harmful disability narrative

This petition made change with 12,460 supporters!

*Note: the image attached to this petition is a photo taken of the back of a General Mills Cheerios cereal box sold at Costco.

Image description:  The school aged girl in the photo has brown hair and blue eyes and facial features typical of people with Down syndrome. She is wearing a blue shirt. Next to her photo is text that reads as follows: Give kids like Aubrey every chance to get better. Aubrey was born with Down syndrome without her parents expecting it and received care through numerous therapy treatments and continuous visits with specialists. With the help of this care, Aubrey functions extremely well, embodying positive energy and a love for the spotlight. Aubrey has taken on titles such as 2019 Miss Amazing Mississippi Jr teen, Oxford Mayor for the day and more. 


General Mills and Children's Miracle Network,

You are spreading a harmful narrative about disability and difference under the guise of helping children, and are perpetuating long-standing biases against people with Down syndrome.

The blurb about Aubrey on your double box of Cheerios at Costco is unacceptable. "Give kids like Aubrey a chance to get better" heads a paragraph that states that she has Down syndrome. It does not indicate any acute illness or injury that would require healing or to "get better." Implying that Down syndrome alone is something from which a person needs to "get better" is a judgement and a cruel way to present a young girl to the world. Her very existence, her chromosomal makeup, is not something from which she needs to heal. Maybe she uses therapy services to meet her goals, or needs medical procedures to address injury/illness, but her diagnosis of Down syndrome is simply a fact.

This is not a small error on your part. It is undoing decades of advocacy work by the disability community.

Your choice of language further minimizes and insults people with Down syndrome. Your statement "With the help of this care, Aubrey functions extremely well," a) implies that Audrey is not a dynamic, many-faceted human being with inherent worth regardless of her "function"; b) suggests that "functioning well" is a result of medical intervention and minimizes her natural abilities and hard work; and c) puts her in an "other" category. Would you ever write such a thing about a child with typical cognitive ability?  

Your intent is clearly to support children who require costly interventions and to help them live life to the fullest, including children with chromosomal differences like Aubrey.  Your mission and the work that you do are so important to this community. 

Next time you write a blurb about a child who lives with extra layers of complexity, please consider the language you choose and how you are (or are not) propelling a narrative of equity and inclusion regarding disability and illness. You might even consider having someone from the disability community contribute to the effort. Use of othering, patronizing or infantilizing language to pull on heart strings for financial results is unacceptable. Find a new way. 

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