Roughly 6.5 million people in the U.S. have an intellectual disability or varied abilities. Causes of disabilities vary from Down syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, and other birth defects. Children with varied abilities are sometimes more accepted in society because of the general positive disposition towards children. However, as an athlete's parent said to me, adults who live with ID or varied abilities often have a harder time being accepted. I produced and directed this project to portray special olympic athletes of all ages, in a heroic and dignified manner to overcome some of the stereotypes of individuals living with ID.
Along with on location portraits, we set up a portrait studio at the closing ceremonies at the Riverside Convention Center in Rochester, N.Y. and a pop-up gallery for athletes and families to see our work. At the end of closing ceremonies, all gallery prints were given away to athletes and their families.
This project contributed to the coverage of the Special Olympics of New York by RITs photojournalism department.
Portrait Project Director/Producer: Mustafa Hussain