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Edmonton art studio hosts exhibit for artists with Down Syndrome

Click to play video: 'Artists show off their skills at art exhibit ahead of World Down Syndrome Day'
Artists show off their skills at art exhibit ahead of World Down Syndrome Day
WATCH ABOVE: Twenty-one artists who happen to have Down Syndrome had the opportunity to have their art on display for the community to see on Saturday. As Mikaela Henschel reports, the inaugural event is not only to show off the artists' talents, but to show the community that people with special needs can thrive and are thriving – Mar 4, 2023

A unique exhibit began Saturday at Studio YEG Art that includes 21 artists showcasing what makes them special — they all have down syndrome.

Nine-year-old Jordan Grace MacKeigan is one of those artists. Her contributing piece titled “Down Syndrome Karyotype” is a colourful painting that features what makes her unique.

“Makes me happy,” said Jordan Grace, holding up her painting.

Organizer Maria MacKeigan started the event to show the community that having Down Syndrome doesn’t hold a person back — something she wishes she knew when her daughter, Jordan Grace, was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

“They told me that she wouldn’t be able to do anything, basically, and our lives are pretty much over. So, it was really scary to me,” MacKeigan recalled.

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That couldn’t be further from the truth for her daughter and many others with Down Syndrome, like entrepreneur Julia Zyla.

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Zyla has created a business out of her passion for baking cookies. She’s even hired five employees with disabilities for her company: Treats by Special P.

The company, whose motto is “A special place, for special people to do special things,” makes five different kinds of cookies, but Zyla has a definite favourite.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton teen living with Down syndrome fulfills basketball dream'
Edmonton teen living with Down syndrome fulfills basketball dream

“I like chocolate,” she said.

MacKeigan says she hopes this weekend’s event serves as a reminder to the community that people with Down Syndrome are just people.

“More people (should) see what they can do, what they’re capable of doing and how beautiful their lives are. Jordan Grace, my daughter, has a zest for life. She shows me more about life than anybody has ever done before.

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“It’s not about what she can do for us or for society — she’s human, just like you and me and she needs to be accepted for who she is.”

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