Assume That I Can

Agency: SMALL


On World Down Syndrome Day, March 21, 2024, CoorDown - the National Coordination of Associations of People with Down Syndrome - is launching the international awareness campaign "ASSUME THAT I CAN” to call for everyone to put an end to prejudice and support the concrete potential of each person who has Down syndrome.

Stereotypes, biases and low expectations strongly affect every aspect of the lives of people with intellectual disabilities: they represent an often-impassable boundary which limits their ambitions; their opportunities at school, in the workplace, in sports, in their communities, friendships and romantic relationships.
"I discovered that in psychology there is a concept called “self-fulfilling prophecy”, whereby a teacher who thinks that a student cannot understand would just act accordingly and therefore they would not teach the student. And there you go: the prophecy self-fulfills. But in my opinion, there are no difficult or easy concepts, there is always a simple way to explain things. If I think of all the things that were not explained and taught to me, well I really get angry." These are the words delivered by Marta Sodano, a 29-year-old Italian woman with Down syndrome, during the World Down Syndrome Day Conference at the United Nations to describe the hurdles she had to overcome in her school experience.

The self-fulfilling prophecy is a sociological and psychological concept, first described in 1948 by the US sociologist Robert K. Merton, illustrating how people’s assumptions and expectations affect events to such an extent that the initial prophecy comes true. These are therefore no mere abstract inconsequential actions, but rather a mental process that is actually conducive to creating a situation that has tangible effects on one’s life and affects social circumstances.

This, and Marta Sodano’s words, have inspired the film "ASSUME THAT I CAN”. The protagonist, a young woman with Down syndrome, challenges the low expectations others have of her and proposes a reversal of perspective: initially those around believe that she cannot drink a cocktail, be a boxer, study Shakespeare, live alone, achieve important goals. Then halfway through the film there’s a twist: the protagonist forcefully invites the viewer, and society at large, to think outside the box and use the self-fulfilling prophecy positively: if you believe in me, if you trust in me, you can have a positive impact, and then, maybe, I will achieve goals, even unexpected ones.

If a teacher believes their students can learn, challenges them and finds the right strategies to teach their subject matter, most likely they will learn it. If a parent supports and believes in their child and provides them with a wealth of experiences and gives them the ability to make their own choices, then their child is more likely to succeed in whatever they have set their mind to. Similarly, if an employer or co-worker believes that a colleague who has Down syndrome can carry out a task that might at first appear complicated, and creates the right environment for teaching and learning to take place, then maybe they will master it. It’s a profound shift in consciousness that goes beyond denouncing denied rights, calling to action anyone who wishes to actively fight to realize true inclusion for all.

The international campaign started with CoorDown in Italy, but sees the contribution of several international associations that are simultaneously launching the film worldwide: Canadian Down Syndrome Society, National Down Syndrome Society, Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Down's Syndrome Association UK, Down Syndrome Australia and New Zealand Down Syndrome Association with the participation of members of the Fundació Catalana Síndrome de Down.

Starting today until 21 March, CoorDown and partners’ social media will broadcast the real experiences of people with Down syndrome and their families from all over the world, sharing examples of the types of stereotypes experienced and the biases they've overcome. The #OfCourse trend has seen hundreds of thousands of people revealing the stereotypes they've experienced around their job, hobby or identity, while at the same time poking fun at these common perceptions. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Maria Carey have all participated on TikTok, we will call to action all those who wish to explain the stereotypes connected to their identity, maybe even poking fun or satirizing the common perceptions about them.

The film “ASSUME THAT I CAN” will run on CoorDown’s TikTok channel and will be distributed on all the platforms of the organization and its partners. The campaign is born from the collaboration with the New York-based agency SMALL and was produced by Indiana Production and directed by Rich Lee, with Christopher Probst as director of photography. Music was composed and produced by Stabbiolo Music.

The campaign’s official hashtags are #AssumeThatICan #EndTheStereotypes #WorldDownSyndromeDay #WDSD24.

Madison Tevlin began her career at the age of 12 when her cover of John Legend’s All of Me went viral. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Madison is a model, advocate and actor. Her credits include: Mr. D, Who Do You Think I Am, hosting the red carpet at the Canadian Screen Awards, and her iconic role as Cosentino in the film Champions, starring Woody Harrelson and directed by Bobby Farrelly. Madison is the first person with Down syndrome to be nominated for a Canadian Screen Award - Best Host, Talk Show or Entertainment News. Madison is a member of Best Buddies International, she walked the runway as part of the Knix Confidence Tour, was the keynote speaker at the Dear Mom conference in Laguna Beach, and received the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy award in 2023 from the Global Down syndrome Foundation.
Madison loves to challenge misunderstandings, by presenting her own story as a person who has passions and goals, and is capable of much more than people expect of her.
World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) is an international awareness day officially declared by the UN General Assembly in December 2022. All are invited to observe World Down Syndrome Day to spread awareness and knowledge about Down syndrome, to create a new culture of diversity, and to promote respect and inclusion in society for all people with Down syndrome.
The choice of the date 21/3 is not accidental: Down syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21, is characterized by the presence of an extra chromosome - three instead of two - in chromosome pair No. 21 within cells.
The theme of this year's World Day is “End the stereotypes!” Stereotypes are harmful: for people with Down syndrome and intellectual disabilities, stereotypes can stop them from being treated like other people. “We get treated like children, we are underestimated, and we are excluded. Sometimes we are treated very badly or even abused” is what real people relate to, like Andrew, a young man from New Zealand, who explains what happened to him “I used to work at a primary school. I was hoping to help with the school newsletters on the office computer. I presented my CV to the receptionist to show her what I can do. She asked me, “Who did this for you?” I told to her I did it. She did not believe that I made the CV and she did not let me help her”.

This professional campaign titled 'Assume That I Can' was published in Spain in March, 2024. It was created for the brand: CoorDown, by ad agency: SMALL. This Film medium campaign is related to the Public Interest industry and contains 1 media asset. It was submitted about 1 month ago by Brooks: Zoe.


Agency: SMALL
Executive Creative Directors: Luca Pannese, Luca Lorenzini
Creative Director: Paolo Montanari
Managing Director: Alberto Scorticati
Account Manager: Chiara Guadagnini
Production Company: Indiana Production S.p.A.
Director: Rich Lee
DP: Christopher Probst, ASC
Executive Producer: Karim Bartoletti
Senior Producer: Silvia Bergamaschi
Assistant Producer: Luca Bettinetti
1st AD: Andrew Coffing
Editor: Luca Angeleri
Original Music: Alessandro Cristofori and Diego Perugini for Stabbiolo Music
Colorist: Danilo Vittori
Post Production Audio: Bravagente
Senior Post Producer: Alga Pastorelli
Post Produzione Video: 22 Dogs
Service Company: Vivi Film
Executive Producer: Carlos Soms
Production coordinator: Nerea Soms
Art Director: John Blud
Stylist: Cris Urso


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