Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova is no stranger to the special needs world. The Calvin Klein model started the Naked Heart Foundation, an organization that builds accessible playgrounds in Russia in 2004, and volunteered at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles this summer.
Wednesday, Vodianova spoke out for a different reason. The model’s sister Oksana, who has autism and cerebral palsy, was allegedly kicked out of a Russian cafe because of her disability, according to Vodianova’s Facebook post. Oksana, 27, and her nanny were resting in Flamingo cafe after walking around for an hour. According to the Facebook post, the cafe owner told the nanny “go and get treated and treat your child, then you can go out in public again.”
Vodianova’s mother came to the cafe, appalled at the situation, to find Oksana surrounded by three security guards. After complaining to the owner and leaving the restaurant, Vodianova’s mother was allegedly told by police that she was being arrested for hooliganism. She was taken to the police station to be questioned, while the cafe owners had no consequences, according to Vodianova’s Facebook post.
Vodianova is using this event to raise awareness for people with special needs in Russia. She expressed her feelings (see below) in her Facebook post, which has garnered more than 100,000 likes and 43,000 shares:
I am deeply insulted on behalf of my mum, Oksana and her nanny, who dealt with the situation so stoically. Those who discriminated against them and violated their rights and dignity should have been taken to the police station, so was my mother taken there instead? I want to appeal to everyone – let’s try to ensure that people with special needs and their families have happier lives. Let’s support their dedicated teachers and specialists who work with them every day; let’s support them so that the results of their work resonate beyond the walls of schools and rehabilitation centers; let’s extend this work the wider community.
You can read an English translated version of Vodianova’s post here.
h/t BBC News