We at beijingkids did not just want to write about special needs kids in Beijing. We had a vision to make pictures of these children, simply showing us their hobby or living out their wildest dreams. We spent a long Sunday at Dave’s magical photo studio to make these visions come true. The coordination of this day was a long and challenging journey, but we couldn’t have been more pleased with the outcome. You might think that these kids are the lucky ones to be photographed by one of the best photographers in the city, but we walked away feeling even more lucky. We got to spend beautiful one-on-one time with the six kids that make these pictures shine, and we were inspired by their loving and energetic parents. These families are the ones that gifted us with something we had never anticipated; a window into the lives of these fearless children who are constantly pushing themselves to overcome their unique challenges. Though we are different, we are also the same.
Rylan (age 7) attends Western Academy of Beijing (WAB). He is a soccer player, street dancer, and plays the drums, and is the big brother of cuddly Zayden (1.5). We asked him how life has changed with a little brother and he had a very simple answer; “I have an extra person in my family!” When the brothers grow up Rylan explains to us that they will be soccer players, or play in a band together. Zayden is a happy, loving little guy who also happens to have an extremely rare undiagnosed neurological condition. His condition consists of a movement disorder, central hypotonia, feeding difficulties, visual impairment, developmental delays, and epilepsy. This does not stop the couple from having a fantastic brotherly bond. Rylan dreams of being able to playfully pick up his brother, so for the picture we made this dream come true!
Victor (age 9) attends the French International School of Beijing. He loves to listen to Disney songs (“Under the Sea”, from The Little Mermaid had him rocking) and he loves to cook. He has French blood, so his skills in the kitchen are a given! Victor has just become a proud big brother of a baby sister. Through being a great student, he has helped pave the way for special needs kids at the French International School of Beijing. Victor is the inspiration of an annual day, where kids at the school try out what it feels like to live with special needs. Victor was diagnosed with acute osteoporosis genetic disease at three months old. He had a bone transplant, but the side effects of his illness are that he is blind and on the autistic spectrum. Many of Victor’s teachers spend their private time learning and educating themselves about special needs children, and we got to understand why firsthand. Victor made us realize that life is about the simple things, like enjoying the textures and shapes of the clouds and the music on the radio.
Photo: Dave’s Studio
This article appeared on p46-51 of beijingkids March 2018 issue.