By flamingofoundation, Feb 1 2016 1:19PM
When you look good, more often than not, you feel good too. However, for young disabled people, the catwalk can seem like a million miles away.
The first problem is that often, young disabled people have never even had the opportunity to choose their own clothes so ‘what’s in’ this season isn’t on their radar or on the radar of those caring for them.
Worse than that, even if they do spot a style they like, often the clothes that take their fancy just aren’t appropriate for their needs. For example, a dress may be too fitted to easily accommodate a feeding tube, or the buttons on a pair of jeans may be too ‘fiddly’ for someone with poor motor skills. Add to this the fact that disabled people are more often than not, simply not represented in mainstream fashion and the result is that people with disabilities being locked out of the fashion world.
So why does this matter? Fashion is just a frippery, isn’t it? Scratch beneath the surface and it’s clear that this isn’t the case.
First, nobody likes to feel different to their peers, and for disabled people, looking the same – or better! – than those around them is crucial to not feeling ‘othered’. And while what you wear shouldn’t matter, looking ‘different’ is all too often a catalyst for bullying, especially at secondary school. All this has a cumulative effect, with bullying leading to low self-esteem and a sense of social exclusion that can last for life. On the other hand, help someone find their style and they’re much better placed to put their best (fashionably shod) foot forward in social situations and have higher self-esteem.
Second, the right clothes can make the difference between being able to dress independently or requiring another person to help them. Clothing really can make all the difference to the everyday life of a disabled person.
So this is where our Find My Style project comes in. We run regular workshops which enable young disabled people to explore the looks that work for them and how they can adapt the styles they love to suit their particular needs. These classes provide an opportunity for all young people, regardless of their disabilities, to engage with fashion and build their self-esteem.
These unique workshops are delivered in partnership with schools and colleges catering for post 16 students. Lack of opportunities such as this has meant that demand has been unprecedented. We’ve already delivered 17 projects and worked with more than 280 young people.
We’ve achieved so much, but we want to do much more. And with your help, we can! If you'd like to volunteer or fund one of our projects, please contact rosa at flamingofoundation.org
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