Parents Leanne and Scott Gavin turned a negative situation into an empowering experience.

Anyone who has spent time online knows the internet can be an exciting and educational place to expand your horizons and share cute photos of your family and friends. But you also know it can be a dark place where trolls feel free to write whatever pops into their heads.

Parents of a baby with Down Syndrome felt that darker side of social media hard in 2019 when they celebrated their daughter’s first birthday.

Why a Baby With Down Syndrome Was Mocked Online

birthday cake with lit candles
Photo by lilartsy

Leanne and Scott Gavin were doing what thousands of parents do around the world every day that October when they posted a cake smash photo of their one-year-old daughter, Megan, eating cake on her first birthday. What they weren’t expecting was the barrage of rude comments that users felt the need to post on the photo.

RELATED: Doctors Wanted to Put Baby with Down Syndrome in an Institution – 15 Years Later, She Proves Them Wrong

While it’s unnecessary to repeat those comments, they ranged from insulting and mean to rude and abusive — something no person, let alone a baby, deserves.

“My shock went straight to anger. I wanted to go and find these people,” Scott told, adding that he also felt mortified and upset. “But after a few hours of sitting down and thinking, I thought I’m not going to let some idiot make me angry and ruin my baby’s day.”

Why a Father Chose to Respond to Bullies With Positivity

"be kind" on a white background, with flowers
Photo by Vie Studio

Both Leanne and Scott wanted to do something in response to the comments. Still, after they got over their initial shock and anger (and had some time for self-reflection), they realized they had an opportunity to do something more significant than the online hate.

I’ve turned it into a positive thing and decided from now on I’m going to educate the uneducated.

Scott Gavin

“I’m going to share the love, and I’ll do that by sharing pictures of Megan,” Scott continued to the publication.

He didn’t only share lots of pictures, though; the father-of-six took his mission of love even further and used some money he had won two years prior to transform his home into a mini-zoo. Now he and Leanne show exotic animals to children with special needs through their business, Party Central Entertainments.

Scott explained that he’s heard many similar stories of online hate from other parents of children with special needs through that business.

“We hear it all the time from the mums; it’s heartbreaking,” he said. “I don’t understand why people see them differently. I don’t understand it.”

These days the company provides reptile, mammal, parrot, and invertebrate visits, as well as an array of other fun party experiences like face painting, bouncy castles, mascots, cotton candy, DJs, and snow cones. All of it is targeted at helping to raise awareness for children with special needs.

How One Dad Proved the Importance of Educating People

man sleeping with baby on his chest
Photo by Pixabay

By sharing their story, Scott and Leanne hoped to change the conversation, educate others around children with special needs, and remind everyone that words hurt — especially ones typed behind the safety of a screen.

But the way they turned such a negative into a positive is a great story and a powerful message. It can be easy to listen to those who have awful things to say, but by focusing on the love and trying to find the light in a situation, you can find much more enlightenment and happiness than ever before.

RELATED: Model and Entrepreneur Living With Down Syndrome Are Breaking Barriers and Redefining Limits

Whether that means tuning out a negative friend, not reading the comments on a post, or trying to find meaning and a way to carry on in a situation that isn’t going your way, finding the positive is always the best way to show the haters how much you don’t care.

After all, you may not be able to control what people write or say, but they make those mute buttons for a reason.


Teen Asks Boy With Down Syndrome to Dance After He Was Rejected – What Happens Next Takes Them by Surprise

everyone is unique
Every single person deserves to be treated with respect and love.