The first model agency representing people with Down syndrome has been launched to coincide with World Down Syndrome Day.
Some 20 people were selected, aged five to 33, after experts in the business rated their self-confidence in front of the camera.
They will be available for photo shoots, advertising, catalogues and catwalk shows as part of the I’m Able 2 Model venture, and will be paid similar fees to other models.
Sheila Campbell, chief executive of the Down Syndrome Centre, said people with the disability needed to be better represented.
“For many of us, the experience of interacting with a person with Down syndrome has been increasingly normalised in recent times,” Ms Campbell said.
“They are active contributors to communities on many levels and I’m Able 2 Model will now provide a platform for them to be portrayed alongside their peers in media representation.”
Ireland has one of the highest rates of people with the disability at one in every 500 births, as opposed to one in 1,000 in countries such as the US, Spain and Norway.
The company will be operated in conjunction with 1st Option Model Management, based in central Dublin and headed by Jules Fallon.
Ms Fallon said she did not hesitate in getting involved in the project.
“Children with special needs such as Down syndrome have dreams and aspirations just like the rest of us, as do their parents,” Ms Fallon said.
“Society no longer has a one-size-fits-all mentality so it’s time we started to celebrate that people come in all different shapes, sizes and abilities.
“We are very excited about this project and are looking forward to opening new doors and revenue streams for people with Down syndrome.”
Ms Campbell said they have not yet received any bookings but she is confident of business.