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River Island features children with disabilities in new campaign celebrating diversity

The inclusive shoot has a cast of kids aged between two and 11

Sarah Young
Monday 19 February 2018 17:00 GMT
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River Island advert for kids campaign including models with disabilities

Six children with disabilities have been announced as the new faces of River Island’s latest campaign that celebrates diversity.

Marking its 30-year anniversary, the high-street fashion brand has joined forces with leading international anti-bullying charity Ditch The Label to spread the message that “labels are for clothes, not kids.”

The new campaign heroes a core group of diverse children from across the UK that are all inspiring and unique.

The youngsters, who are aged between two and 11, have each been diagnosed with various conditions including Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy and eyesight issues.

Among the stars, all of whom are signed to Zebedee Management – an agency that supplies diverse models and sensitive representation – is 10-year-old Lois Groom, from Ware Hertfordshire, who was born with 18q deletion syndrome.

An incredibly rare condition that affects just one in 40,000 children, the syndrome meant that Lois was born deaf, is hyper-mobile and also has learning difficulties and delayed speech.

However, her condition didn’t stop her from parading in front of the camera as she happily posed for the inspiring new campaign.

“I’m so proud of Lois. She absolutely loves being in front of the camera and is a real natural. Everyone has been saying she should become a model since she was a baby,” explained her mother Dawn Groom.

“Lois tires easily so she finds a lot of clubs and hobbies really difficult, but modelling is great because it is fun and friendly and the time she has to perform is relatively short.”

Speaking of the collaboration, Laura Johnson and Zoe Proctor, of Zebedee Management, added, “We are delighted that River Island are using models with disabilities as the norm now.

“We hope that other brands will follow the example set by River Island and ensure that their campaigns are more representative of our diverse society.

“We want disability diversity to become the norm in advertising and are working very hard to make this happen.”

But, this isn’t the first time the two brands have joined forces.

Last year, 11-year-old Joseph Hale, from Grimsby, secured his first modelling job as one of the new faces fronting River Island’s ‘RI Squad Campaign.’

The youngster, who was diagnosed with dyspraxia and global development delay, as well as Down’s syndrome, spoke candidly about how much he enjoyed taking part in the shoot as he showed off his fun personality and love of shiny disco dancing shoes.

“It was nice to show the video to friends at school. People can take selfies with me now,” he said.

“River Island made it comfortable for me and I really enjoyed it. I was trying to get everyone to dance to the music. It is good to be able to champion disabilities.”

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