It is difficult to put into words the magic that happened just down the road from my house a week ago. So many emotions wrapped up in those 2 days and for me (Katie) one of the largest projects I have had the opportunity to be a part of. From beginning to end, I have to say, every step was a learning experience that I am grateful for.
I met Denise DeMarchis, founder of Matilda Jane and the Mighty Acorn Foundation five short months ago. She immediately understood what it meant to be seen in media and advertising. She is a big dreamer and knew right away she wanted to do something to push the envelope. She wanted to challenge her friends and the companies she worked beside for so many years to get on board and think about changing the way they advertise their designs.
These companies not only got on board but they actually showed up! None of us will forget those 17 girls who represented their designs with true and pure beauty. I was asked what my hopes were for this project and a flood of emotion came over me. There are so many hopes that run through my mind during every project but the outcomes are always far beyond what I could have ever imagined. This project was no different, 17 girls left feeling strong, beautiful and important and 9 companies left questioning their future advertising campaigns. That is pretty amazing.
I know I talk about it all the time but I believe opportunities like these matter because what we see every day matters. Although we might feel that imagery is superficial we are still influenced by it. I know this world is a big place and the opportunity for change is vast. I have to believe that each and every situation we have to influence another person's perception and open their mind to something they never even thought about before is important. That person might just take what they have learned and share it with someone else. They might even consider hiring a person living with an intellectual disability. That is what this is all about you know. Futures, independence and opportunity for all people living with a difference. I believe advertising is that powerful.
"You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all the worlds problem's at once but don't ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own." - Michelle Obama
I hope the mission behind this project grows and brings inspiration to others. Individuals living with disabilities are the largest minority in the world and remain the most under represented in the media as well as the work force. That needs to change and I believe it will change as long as we continue to talk about it.
I can not thank Mighty Acorn Foundation enough for believing in the future of my daughter and yours. I appreciate them standing up and investing in a cause that will change the world for our children. They will be compiling the pictures into a beautiful look books that will be given to each participating company so they too can share the mission of inclusion with their consumers.
And to the companies that participated Matilda Jane, Oilily USA, Livie and Luca, Mustard Pie, Persnickety, Kpea Originals, North American Bear, Lemon Loves Lime, Birthday Express and Buy Costumes THANK YOU for making these girls even more beautiful by dressing them in your stylish designs!
A special thanks for Kelle Hampton for attending the event and capturing on video the beauty and interactions of 17 girls from all backgrounds and abilities.
Look for updates on Mighty Acorn's website in the coming weeks. They will be auctioning all the clothing and shoes the designers so kindly donated to help support future projects as well as help GiGi's Playhouse Oak Forest rebuild after loosing their building they moved into last fall. The gifts keep on giving!