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This viral Down Syndrome ad is smashing assumptions from every angle

From CoorDown

What happens when others assume people with Down syndrome can’t hit hard, aim high or drink a darn margarita?

Well, it can become a reality.

A new Down syndrome awareness ad cuts right to the philosophical heart of this often-misunderstood condition, reminding us that the way we treat people with Down syndrome can help smash false limits — or reinforce them.

False limits like, say, someone of-age not being able to drink just because they have Down syndrome.

“If your assumptions become reality, then assume I can drink a margarita. So you serve me a margarita, so I drink a margarita,” says actress Madison Tevlin in the now-viral ad.

The same goes for things like living alone, having sex or any other achievement, both great and small.

“Assume that I can, so maybe I will,” the spot concludes.

The ad, created by an Italian Down syndrome organization called Coor Down, was released in recognition of World Down Syndrome Awareness Day, March 21. Its tagline, #AssumeICan, is being used by people with Down Syndrome to show that many of the assumptions about their drive and abilities are just that … assumptions.

Tevlin, the 22-year-old actress who starred in the ad, talked to CNN about tearing down stereotypes while also celebrating the differences people with Down syndrome bring to the table.

“When I was born, the doctor told my mom and dad that life would be really hard for me, saying that I can’t talk, or walk, or dance, or model, or act — or drinking or getting married — any of this stuff that’s part of normal life,” she said. “And it’s so much fun proving people wrong.”

Tevlin was connected to the Coor Down campaign through the National Down Syndrome Society, and says she’s loving the reactions to the ad, which has 160,000 views on YouTube and has been burning up social media feeds.

“I’m just so happy everyone looks up to me as a role model.”

Other Down syndrome activists and achievers are sharing their own ways they defy stereotypes, like 17-year-old triathlete Caleb Prewitt, or members of the Hijinx Theatre, an inclusive theatre company in Wales.

Down syndrome is a condition caused by an extra partial or full chromosome. According to the National Down Syndrome Society, one in 772 babies in the US is born with Down Syndrome. It’s not a disease or an affliction, it’s just the way some people are made.

While Down syndrome results in slight cognitive delays, the NDSS says these issues are usually “mild to moderate” and don’t affect people’s ability to vote, contribute to their communities or make decisions about their own lives.

As an actress and advocate, Tevlin has taken control of her own life. She says getting past stereotypes about Down syndrome allows the whole person to shine through.

“I always say that I have Down syndrome, and it’s the least interesting thing about me,” she said. “The part of who I am, well it’s not all of me. We should all celebrate our differences in our own special and unique ways.”

CNN’s Taylor Galgano and Krista Bo contributed to this report.

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