In Australia, Kmart is taking big steps to promote the inclusion of disabilities into everyday life.
In their latest catalog, the store features children with disabilities like Cooper, a child who is living with dystonic quadriplegia cerebral palsy. Cooper and his mother replied to a casting call in Melbourne Australia and soon after, Cooper snagged an audition and later a modeling job for Kmart. His mother says it’s something that he’s always wanted to do and now he’s earned the opportunity.
Cooper says that the best part of the experience was going to the studio and getting wear cool clothes for the photoshoot. “I got to choose some music to listen to, and the photographer and all the people made me laugh a lot,” he said.
Cooper’s mom hopes that when people see the ad, they look past his disability and just see a normal kid. She says that it’s a big deal that the mainstream media are finally including children with varying abilities. She hopes that one day soon it won’t be a big deal and it will be nothing out of the ordinary. Although for now, she wants them to just children like Cooper as a child looking forward to Easter who happens to use a walker because he happens to have a disability. “Disability is not something to be pitied. [The ad] ‘normalizes’ things a bit, and it gets conversations started about inclusion and disability, which is always a good thing.”
This is not the first time that a major store like Kmart has included a child with disabilities in an ad.
In October of 2015, Target mailed a new product catalog to customers that featured a girl with disabilities dressed up as Elsa from the Disney movie “Frozen” and was supporting herself with crutches. Along with her princess gown and crutches was a smile. A smile that told the story of a happy child that at that moment feeling no different than anyone else.
Jeff Jones, Target’s chief marketing officer, said in an interview that it’s important to the company to include people with disabilities in its advertising campaigns.
“At Target, our core beliefs regarding diversity and inclusivity are reflected in our advertising and in our business overall,” Jones said. “We’ve included people with disabilities in our advertising for more than 25 years and we’re humbled by the support we’ve received recently. We look forward to a day when diversity of all types in advertising is no longer a topic of discussion, but a way of life.”
Parents across the countries of Australia and the United States both expressed their appreciation of Kmart and Target’s advertisements. By including images of people with special needs, these companies are doing their part to eliminate the label of “different” on anyone who lives with a disability.