Lucas Warren won over executives at Gerber Products Company with his warm and cheerful smile. He becomes the 2018 “spokesbaby” and the first Gerber baby with Down syndrome.

Lucas’ picture not only places him on the Gerber ads through 2018, but it also brings hope and awareness to the special needs and disability community.

“We’re hoping this will impact everyone — that it will shed a little bit of light on the special needs community and help more individuals with special needs be accepted and not limited,” said Jason Warren, Lucas’ father, on NBC’s Today Show. “They have the potential to change the world, just like everybody else.”

We at Scroll believe people with special needs should be treated with kindness and respect, and people who have disabilities have as much potential as others to succeed in their desired profession.

According to Southend’s Children and Families Information Point, children with special needs require extra support because they find it harder to learn than other children; children with disabilities include a physical and mental impairment that has a substantial or long-term effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

People with special needs and disabilities have historically been treated as objects of fear and pity, and people had a general attitude that such individuals were incapable of participating in or contributing to society.

However, with the rising awareness of special needs and the disability community, these people not only have the right and chance to change the world but also to find their own happiness in life.

We have no right to belittle them because of their differences.

“Disability need not be an obstacle to success,” said Stephen Hawking, the famous cosmologist who also has a severe disability.

Fifty-four million Americans have some form of disability, and there are about 1,868 students on campus with disabilities each semester, which makes up 10 to 11 percent of the student body.

Venae Hokanson, an office assistant at the BYU-Idaho Disability Services office, said not many of them know the school has the resources they need, or they may feel ashamed of coming to Disability Services to receive assistance.

These students may feel excluded by other people for their differences. However, the shame they feel may prevent them from seeking help.

According to LD OnLine, an educator’s guide to disabilities and ADHD, disabled people who are pursuing their chosen path despite the difficulty, setting specific goals and receiving support from others have as much of a chance to succeed as others.

Benji Bigler, a freshman studying computer science, said he knows a student in his class who can only type with a pen in his mouth, yet he is one of the smartest kids he has ever known.

“Anyone can have difficulty and not realize it,” Bigler said. “It’s like a normal thing like I would go to my math tutor to ask for help.”

Taylor Sylva, a freshman majoring in university studies, said her brother Jason was diagnosed with autism when he was 5. She knows she will need to take care of her brother for the rest of her life, but she is also grateful for the blessings her brother has brought into her home.

“I think the biggest blessing he taught us is … how to be content with what we have instead of what we don’t have,” Sylva said. “He can be doing nothing but just sitting and watching a simple movie and be the happiest person you have ever seen.”

Sylva said if she did not have Jason as her brother, she probably would not be as understanding to people who have special needs.

“You will be surprised how often they (people who have special needs) just want to say hi to you and give you a simple smile,” Sylva said. “And if you say hi back to them, it would make their world so much better and they would feel they are being part of our world instead of living in the separate world.”

When we encounter people with special needs and disabilities, the words we choose and the attitude we show can either build them up or tear them down. Choose to be kind and respectful. Trust that they have as much potential to succeed in life as you and us. Treat others the way you want to be treated.