Organization Encouraging Advertisers To Use More Disabled Children In Campaigns

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As human beings who are saturated by media in this technology and social media-drive age, we are constantly looking for better representations “on screen” and can usually find what we are looking for. We want to see ourselves reflected back in the images we are bombarded by, especially when it comes to fashion and advertising.

But there are a certain group of people who are the most underrepresented in entertainment and media. They are people with disabilities, who are also considered the largest minority in the world, according to actress and comedian Maysoon Zayid who uses her platform to educate people about Cerebral Palsy. Why shouldn’t disabled adults and children find accurate representations of themselves in film and TV the way the rest of us can?

One mother from Chicago, Kathryn Driscoll has been wondering the same thing for quite a while and decided to do something about it. The 39 year-old mother of 6 has a daughter, her youngest child, who has down syndrome. When she found out she was having a baby with DS during her pregnancy, she was initially devastated, but soon realized what a blessing her baby was, and what an awesome life she could give her.

It was that stigma alone of having a child who would never be able to live like other children, which pushed Kathryn to start a movement.

After Grace was born, Kathryn started taking lots of photos of her for her blog 5boysand1girlmake6 and it soon grew into a passion. She started to wonder why she wasn’t seeing any disabled children in advertising campaigns and TV commercials and it got her thinking. Mid-2013 she launched a website for a movement called ‘Changing the Face of Beauty‘ which is dedicated to giving greater visibility to disabled kids in the media.

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Our world is a visual world and our goal is to show the world how beautiful these individuals are. We feel it is important for all people to be included in advertising,” said Kathryn to the Daily Mail.

She teamed up with her friend Steve English to find more disabled children in their community and decided to do a photo shoot with them all. Once the photos were done, they held an exhibition in July 2013 displaying all the photos of these wonderful children, and invited agencies from all over town to come and view their pictures.

The idea was to show them that they exist, and that it is important for disabled people everywhere to see their own smiling faces reflected in campaigns.

After the successful exhibition, the website was flooded with requests from all around the world from people who wanted to get involved or have their child part of the movement. To date around 30 children and young adults have now featured in ads, mostly for clothing companies.

Kathryn explained how important it is that the rest of the world, not just the disabled community, know how amazing these children are and that they shouldn’t be treated any different. She believes that society’s false perceptions need to be challenged, and the media and advertising can be a huge help in making that happen.

Sometimes I feel like we as a disability community preach to each other. I wanted to show the world how more alike than different my daughter is. I believe imagery is the one way to do that,” she said.

Steve English, who runs a flower shop, cast four year old Grace in the store’s fair-trade clothing catalog as part of his involvement in the campaign.

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Toys R Us have been in contact with Kathryn since the photo exhibition and say they are committed to showing diversity in their catalogs and campaigns. We are so impressed and inspired by what Kathryn and the Changing the Face of Beauty team are doing. They are challenging the narrow norms of society by attacking where it can make the most difference.
It’s no wonder someone started a campaign to have Disney create a disabled princess, and many other people who are advocated better representation of disabled people in the media and society.Watch the video below to see the behind-the-scenes of the photo shoot they did with these beautiful children. Way to go Kathryn and Steve! Thank you for being willing to speak up for people who need better representation.

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