New Delhi: Come 17 September, Delhi-based fashion influencer with Down Syndrome Aakash Chiripal will be one of the 500 faces that will appear in a video playing under the bright lights of Broadway in New York’s Times Square.
The one-hour presentation will feature children, teens and adults with the syndrome, organised by the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), a leading American non-profit that works with individuals with the genetic condition. The annual event aims to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome, a condition caused by the presence of an extra chromosome resulting in developmental and intellectual delays.
Aakash’s journey on Instagram took off last March when he saw a video of fashion content creator Siddharth Batra that he wanted to recreate. His younger sister Sanchi started posting short clips and pictures of him with a focus on clothes. From sporting stylish vest coats to sherwanis to outfits themed on colours, there are over 190 posts on his wall. Aakash already has over 18,500 followers.
This year on Father’s Day, the 31-year-old twinned with his dad in a series of pictures where they matched flat caps, polo shirts and Nehru jackets.
In an interview with HT Brunch in August 2021, Aakash’s sister said he did 90 per cent of the shoots because he got to wear new clothes. She said a two-to-three minute video would be about half an hour’s work.
Times Square appearance
Speaking to ThePrint, Sanchi said he was “really very happy” to be selected from 2,400 entries across the world. The video will be played on two JumboTron screens in the heart of Times Square. The presentation will be live streamed on the NDSS’s Facebook page on 17 September at 7 pm IST.
“In India, there isn’t much awareness about Down Syndrome. This event is to create awareness that a person with Down Syndrome can live a normal life,” Sanchi said.
Lamenting the discrimination and lack of facilities for people with disabilities in India, Sanchi emphasised the need to encourage such special people and to treat them with respect.
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