Of course children who use wheelchairs, children and babies who have Down’s Syndrome, children with cerebal palsy and in fact all children wear clothes. It is a fact. Consequently clothing companies should use all sorts of children to model them right? Disabled children included. Of course they should. But they don’t.
It is a shame they don’t. Disabled children make up a significant portion of society and should be represented in anything to do with kids. They wear clothes too, they look great in clothes too. Their parents want to buy them nice clothes too.We are a society that remains uncomfortable with difference.
We might have got there with cultural differences (to some extent) but tell someone you have a disabled child or someone notices your child is disabled and there is often (not always) a tangible discomfort. The way past this is to be inclusive always of disabled children within our society. In areas such as fashion where standards of visible perfection or ‘beauty’ render the tall, slim, regular featured as the ‘norm,’ representation of all children is important.
I worked with children with disabilities for a long time as a social worker and for a short while as a foster carer. I feel very passionate about inclusion and today I saw something that made me smile. A step in a good direction. Have a read of this….
Five-year-old Natty Goleniowska and Four-year-old Sebastian White, who both have Down’s syndrome, have modelled for the Jo Jo Maman bebe Autumn Winter collection, due in stores this August.
Natty’s mother Hayley Goleniowska has been campaigning through her blog ‘Down’s Side Up’ to inspire new parents of children with Down’s syndrome. She states, “Most things are possible for our children.’ Hayley has a large following on her blog and there was much excitement from her readers when news broke of Natty’s modelling debut. “When JoJo asked Natty to model for them, I couldn’t think of a better way to subtly bring the message that Down’s syndrome is beautiful into homes across the nation.”
Sebastian’s mother Caroline White is also positive that the appearance of her son and Natty in the JoJo catalogue can help to promote an optimistic image. “If it helps one new parent feel less scared than I did when Seb was born, then we have achieved something really positive. To see a child with Down’s syndrome in such a high profile catalogue as JoJo, wearing beautiful clothes is a massive step forward to raising awareness and a huge opportunity to get the message across that different isn’t any less wonderful.”
JoJo Maman Bébé is a proud supporter of the Down’s Syndrome Association supporting their WorkFit scheme by offering work placements to adults in stores and head office, where suitable.
Veronica Mulenga, Down’s Syndrome Association Employment Officer said “We are delighted to be working with JoJo Maman Bébé, the support they have given to our WorkFit programme has been outstanding. Now to be including two children with Down’s Syndrome in their Autumn catalogue is further evidence of their strong commitment to make sure that we see people first and not just the syndrome. Natty and Seb are included because they are beautiful children who just happen to have Down’s Syndrome. The continued support of professional companies like JoJo Maman Bébé means that we can continue our work in ensuring people with Down’s syndrome can live the full and meaningful lives they want and deserve”.
Well done Jojo. Well done too to Natty and Seb -you are rocking those clothes!
For further information about Down’s syndrome visit www.downs–syndrome.org.uk.