Parents whose kids have taken part in an inclusive modelling campaign want others to know their children are not defined by the labels put on them.
River Island’s ‘RI Kids Squad: Be Incredible’ campaign is intended to stand out from other kid’s clothing adverts by championing diversity and features the slogan ‘labels are for clothes’.
Karlie Batey, said she was so proud when her 10-year-old son River, who was diagnosed with ADHD when he was seven, was chosen to star in the campaign.
“The message ‘labels are for clothes’, couldn’t be more pertinent to River and our desire to change people’s perception of additional/special needs,” she said. “We knew that River would face challenges that other children his age may not. What we weren’t prepared for, was the negative connotation attached to children with ADHD and ASD and the pre-conceived - sometimes ignorant - labels placed upon them.”
Batey said she has brought her son River up knowing that Asperger’s and ADHD does not define him. “He is not to be labelled and stuck in a box to conform with societal expectations,” she said. “We are all human and in clothing terms, one size does not fit all. What does define River, is his compassion, his warmth and his unconditional positive regard for others.
“Our uniqueness and quirks should be celebrated, not excused or hidden away.”
Josie Cartridge customer director of River Island explained she hopes the campaign will help lead to more inclusive representation of children in advertising: “We aim to lead by example and hope promoting diversity and inclusivity will encourage discussions around disability to help achieve wider acceptance for all children,” she said.
Laura Shilton was overjoyed to learn her daughter Emily, who has a walking aid, had been given the opportunity to be part of an inclusive campaign. “As a mother to a child with disabilities all I have ever wanted is for Emily to have the same opportunities and experiences as any of her peers,” she said. “I want people to see Emily instead of her disability and am so incredibly proud of my daughter.”
Shilton said she hopes Emily becomes a role model for other children with disabilities, and they are able to look at the campaign and feel inspired, “children can do anything that they put their mind to and Emily is proof in the pudding”.