Bay Area girl with Down syndrome featured in back-to-school ad

MARTINEZ, Calif. (KGO) -- One mother's mission to increase the visibility of children and adults with disabilities in the media has turned into an international movement. And now, more organizers are trying to change the face of beauty.

At a showroom in Emeryville, Cora Slocum is enjoying her moment in the spotlight. The 4-year-old from Martinez, who was born with Down syndrome, is featured in a fall back-to-school ad campaign for Livie & Luca, a local children's shoe company.

This year's theme uses the hashtag #ImGoingBackToSchoolToo, and it's been taking social media by storm.

Her father Scott Slocum says, "One time I went to Cora and I said, 'Cora, you're trending!' Because people are just overwhelming with their likes and their comments are incredible."

The company's owners were inspired by a nonprofit organization called Changing the Face of Beauty, which aims to get special needs children placed in traditional media.

PHOTOS: Mom campaigns to include kids with disabilities in back-to-school ads

"It's such a beautiful thing to be able to collaborate with an organization that holds many of the same values as we do," said Livie & Luca co-founder Mitzi Rivas.

The nonprofit was started three years ago by Chicago mother Katie Driscoll, whose daughter also has Down syndrome, and didn't see anyone that she could relate to in any of the back-to-school advertisements. So she decided to do something about it by encouraging companies to change the way they market.

"It fosters a whole new direction on advertising messages," she said. "And you know, the inclusion of people with differences."

Driscoll, a professional photographer, organized a back-to-school shoot herself last year. She gathered a group of children with disabilities and, like any other back-to-school shoot, armed them with books and school supplies.

Livie & Luca's messaging is all about celebrating diversity. And they were glad to make Cora one of its stars.

"She's such a natural," said Livie & Luca co-founder Amie Garcia. "You see her image in our catalogs and she just looks like she was born for it."

It was a newfound opportunity to challenge the norm.

"If by having her picture out there kind of changes people's minds and perceptions and stereotypes, then I think that's, you know, a good move in the right direction," said Cora's mother, Kerri Slocum.

A young girl breaking barriers, right here in the Bay Area.

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