By Luke Kenton
After using her own son as inspiration, this photographer set out to make three special needs children’s dreams come true, by photographing them alongside the local police department.
For 13-year-old Zane, 11-year-old Owen and seven-year-old Elliot, their lifelong dream to one day become a police officer among the local Rapid City PD, in South Dakota, USA, seemed an unlikely one, if not for photographer, Carrie Lewis.
With each suffering from Down Syndrome, Angelman Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy respectively, their individual special needs mean they’re unlikely to ever be able to serve alongside their heroes in blue.
But Carrie Lewis was determined to turn these boys’ dreams into a reality, even for just a day, in a hope to inspire her own son, Kai – who suffers from an undiagnosed neurological disorder, to chase his dreams.
Reaching out to the local community on Facebook, Carrie was contacted by hundreds of families with requests to have their children photographed in their favourite costumes, from Batman and Superman, to pirates and princesses.
After photographing and super-imposing these children into the worlds they longed to be in, Carrie decided she also wanted to ‘create a dream in real life’ and identified the three boys as the lucky recipients, asking the Rapid City Police Department to help out.
Photographed in full uniform on November 4th, they were also pictured in the driver’s seat of a squad car, along with a group photo of the attending officers – an experience leaving each boy beaming from ear to ear.
Carrie Lewis, owner of Glass Crown Photography, said: “After I uploaded my post to Facebook, I was shocked at how many parents told me that photographers don’t shoot special needs children.
“Zane and Owen are non-verbal but they always salute any military, police officers, or firefighters that they see and will stop everything they’re doing if cops in on TV.
“For Elliot, all he’s ever wanted to be in a cop and apparently he’s always walking around his home telling everybody that they’re under arrest.
“With my youngest son, Kai, special needs is certainly a subject that’s very close to my heart, so I knew it was important for these boys, that I could make their dreams real life.
“I decided to reach out to the local police department and after telling them about the boys, they went way above and beyond what I ever could’ve hoped for.
“They blocked off an entire road for us, brought four squad cars and let the kids live out their dreams, letting them wear their jackets and sit in the front seat of the cars.
“The police officers loved it as much as the kids did, they were so patient and kind to the boys, they really enjoyed helping make their boy’s dreams come true.
“It was such a rewarding experience, I can’t really even describe the feeling.
“Two out of the three boys were non-verbal, but they didn’t have to say anything for me to gauge how they felt, their smiles said it all.
“Out of all of this, I hope photographers will become more open to photographing special needs kids and not fear them.
“I hope people realise that every kid deserves to have their dreams come true, no matter the circumstances.
“I’m so extremely thankful that I got to work with these kids and to the Rapid City Police Department for making their dreams come true.”
Carrie’s work can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/glasscrownphotography/