Tommy Hilfiger Launches Adaptive Collection for Children With Disabilities

2k
2k

Now, children of all abilities can wear Tommy Hilfiger clothing.

A nonprofit organization called Runway of Dreams worked with the brand to launch an adaptive version of select styles from its children’s line, which will be on sale starting Tuesday.

*Sign up for The Mighty Newsletter*

Two children, one with a limb difference, wearing adaptable clothing

Mindy Scheier, a fashion designer, founded Runway of Dreams to work with the fashion industry and adapt mainstream clothing for people with different abilities. She started the organization after her son Oliver, 11, who has a rare form of muscular dystrophy, asked her to buy him a pair of jeans. 

Mindy and Oliver Scheier
Mindy and Oliver Scheier, courtesy of Runway of Dreams

Oliver, then 8, came home from school and said he wanted to wear jeans to school the next day because his friends were wearing them. Scheier didn’t know what to do. She knew because of his mobility issues, pants with a button and zipper would present challenges, and the jeans would hinder his ability to wear his leg braces. But it was also a priority for Scheier to allow her son to wear the things he wanted, despite the challenges he might face.

“It was more important to me to have him walk into school with his head held high than to worry about the other things,” Scheier told The Mighty. “That was when I realized a change needed to happen. Every kid and adult in the differently-abled community deserves to wear the same clothing that everybody else does.”

Three children, one in a wheelchair, wearing adaptable clothing.
Tommy Hilfiger // Credit: Richard Corman

Scheier got to work looking for adaptable mainstream clothing, but soon discovered not many options existed. So she began buying clothes off the rack and modifying them to suit Oliver’s needs. 

She then started assembling focus groups to get a feel for what kinds of clothing needs the community as a whole had. Based on issues the people reported with most pieces of clothings — like difficulty with zippers, pull-over style sweatshirts, etc. — Scheier began developing wearable technology and designing modifications that would allow people to self-dress.

Two children, one in a wheelchair, wearing adaptable clothing.
Tommy Hilfiger // Credit: Richard Corman

Realizing the extent of the market for this type of service, Scheier began to think about what brands would be best to pioneer the movement. Her crusade eventually led her to Tommy Hilfiger.

“They’re a brand that caters to the family unit and their clothing goes from children all the way up to adults, but also they have a very big affinity for philanthropic movements,” Scheier told The Mighty. “I felt comfortable they were going to understand.”

A child wearing Tommy Hilfiger adaptable clothing
Tommy Hilfiger // Credit: Richard Corman

Based on her research, Scheier has modified the Hilfiger collection in three main ways.

The first is closures: buttons and zippers have been replaced with a special stylish magnet closure called MagnaReady®. The second is the adjustability of the clothing: pant legs, sleeves lengths and waistbands are adjustable because the sizes needed for seated comfort differ from standing. Third is the ways in which a person can get in and out of the clothing: pull-over style clothing can be difficult due to low muscle tone, limb differences or other disabilities, so the seams have been adjusted to allow for the clothing to be entered through the back rather than over the head.

All apparel is still from the mainstream Tommy Hilfiger spring collection. 

MagnaReady closure.
The MagnaReady® fashionable magnetic closure system for people with limited mobility.

“As far as I know, this will be the first mainstream, big name brand to offer an adaptable clothing collection,” Scheier told The Mighty. “This will be a huge initiative in the fashion industry that will truly be innovated by Tommy Hilfiger.”

Scheier says Runway of Dreams isn’t done yet. Her organization won’t stop until as many brands as possible are offering adaptive versions of their clothing.

59205_A1_02_THilfiger_00069-3_300dpi
Tommy Hilfiger // Credit: Richard Corman

For Scheier, it’s a passion project born out of love for her son. He has seen it from the beginning, with Scheier ripping apart clothes on the kitchen table, all the way through the final photo shoot for the collection, in which he’s a model.

Boy wearing adaptable clothing.
Oliver Scheier. Tommy Hilfiger // Credit: Richard Corman

“It’s an amazing thing for him and my other kids to witness this journey and show them that you can make a difference and if you believe in something, you can make it happen,” Scheier told The Mighty.  

Check out the video below, by Helen Polise, for more on the collection and the children modeling it. 

Visit the website here to browse the collection.

2k
2k
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Parents ‘Disgusted’ After Quadruple Amputee Son’s Disability Was Questioned

186
186

Edward Bright’s arms and legs were amputated when he developed meningitis as a child, and after his 16th birthday last month, Bright began the process of switching from the U.K.’s Disability Living Allowance (DLA) benefit system to Personal Independence Payments (PIP), according to the Mirror. However, rather than a seamless transition, Bright’s parents were furious when the U.K.’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) notified the family that Edward would lose his benefits if he failed to attend an assessment meeting at the DWP’s office in Derby, England.

“They wanted him to go to Derby and even gave instructions on how to walk to the office from the station,” Edward’s mother, Clare Bright, told the Mirror. “He’s in a wheelchair waiting for an operation in April. He can’t walk. It’s a shamble.” After receiving the notice, the family demanded a home assessment, but was still furious with the response, which asked about Edward’s work prospects and daily life.

It’s­ absolutely disgusting,” Edward’s father, Steve Bright, added in an interview with the Mirror. “He’s a quad amputee for God’s sake. It isn’t like he’s going to get better. He isn’t going to suddenly grow new arms and legs … They know full well the extent of his disabilities. They have no hearts.” Edward’s story is featured on the cover of the Feb. 18-edition of the Mirror, and hundreds of readers have reacted on the publication’s Facebook page:

 

“It’s absolutely disgusting.” Posted by The Mirror on Wednesday, February 17, 2016
 

To add insult to injury, Clare Bright says the family was told Edward would be given interim payments while being assessed, but he has yet to receive them, according to the Daily Mail. Officials have since admitted to making a “mistake,” adding that the letter should not have been sent in the first place and that the case will be resolved “imminently.” A DWP spokesperson said in a statement to the Daily Mail, “In this instance a paper-based assessment has been completed and there is no need for a face-to-face assessment.”

“There should be a mark on his case saying, ‘He is disabled and always will be – don’t contact him for assessment,’” Steve Bright told the Daily Mail. “It should get to the point where, with certain disabilities, there are no questions asked. I can see why they have to do these assessment, because of the amount of people who falsely claim benefits. Sadly, it’s people like that make it a lot harder for the genuine cases.”

In 2013 the DWP introduced the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which replaced the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) benefit system, and there have been countless complaints ever since. In June 2014, the Public Accounts Committee described the implementation of PIP as “nothing short of a fiasco,” according to The Independent on Sunday. In an article published in August 2015, the publication reported nearly 25 percent of people applying for disability benefits are encountering “serious difficulties,” including delays, unfair dismissal of claims and confusion over eligibility.

 

Tomorrow’s Daily Mirror front page:Prove you are… Posted by The Mirror on Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Correction: A previous version of this article referred to Bright as a quadriplegic. Bright is a quadruple amputee.

186
186
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To the People Who Think There Is Always a Visible Sign of Disability

171
171

I see the looks I get when I hand a health care provider my Medicare card along with my private insurance card. I see, and sometimes hear, judgmental actions when I use a handicapped spot in a parking lot.

Most people have their own interpretation of what a person with a disability looks like. They seem to think there is always a visible sign. They picture a wheelchair or some sort of deformity. They do not picture a 20-something woman who has no visible signs of a disability. However, the reality is that many disabilities can be invisible.

When I first got sick, I never got those questioning looks. I had tubes that were impossible to hide, I was in a wheelchair and I had to have someone with me most of the time to assist with my daily activities. During that time in my life, I faced a variety of struggles. The one thing I did not face was random strangers wondering if I was lying about having a disability.

After four years of being confined to bed and a wheelchair, I was able to get the medication and physical therapy I needed to start walking. Even though I do not use adaptive equipment to walk now, it takes effort to leave the house. I work part time, I do my own grocery shopping, and I enjoy going out to eat with my husband. Some days, to get to do those things, I may need closer parking or some other consideration.

There is no one way people with disabilities look. Under the outside appearance of many healthy-looking individuals can be scars, dysfunctional organs, rare disorders and so much more. I wonder if there will be a day when people do not whisper and question if I am being dishonest.

My hope is that as we join together as a community, people will slowly become more
and more aware of rare and invisible diseases. In the meantime, please don’t question if I really need that handicapped parking space, disability insurance or extra day off. Please don’t doubt that I really do have a rare disease that limits me in many ways. And most of all, please understand that I am working hard to fit into a world that can often be difficult for me to navigate without a little help.

woman in cardboard cutout photo

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

171
171
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

5 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self About Living With a Disability

88
88

I’m not a fan of top 10 lists unless David Letterman is rattling off a good one sometime around midnight. First of all, they can come off as rather arrogant. Does anyone really know “the 10 correct ways to interact with people with disabilities?” Do we actually think there are “10 things every special needs mom can do to feel happier?”

Of course not. But such articles are well-intentioned and no doubt informative to people who are seeking out assistance in a specific subject area.

While putting together my first book “I’m Not Here to Inspire You,” one of the things I truly wanted to accomplish was to send out a good message to young people living with physical disabilities. After an editor suggested writing a top 10 list as a blog post — and I stopped grumbling to myself about the over abundance of them in the blogosphere, especially on disability topics — I thought it could work as a way of augmenting the book with some thoughts for young people with disabilities.

So, here are the five things I would say to my younger self about living with a disability:

1) Build lasting peer relationships.

The most recent statistic I’ve read indicated that the unemployment rate among people with disabilities is 80 percent. The absolute best opportunity you will have to build relationships with peers will be while you’re in school. In 2016, social media makes connecting outside of the school environment easier. Kids use Facebook and Twitter to connect with friends, and that’s great. But finding ways to actually be with friends outside of class is still crucial.

This may take some real effort in different ways with able-bodied friends and friends with disabilities. Try to organize a monthly movie night, go to events at school even if you feel like you’re part of the background, and seek out activities with other kids with disabilities. While the social media generation will find it old-fashioned, email is still a good tool to use to connect on a more significant level than “liking” something on Facebook. As you get older, consider sending those antiques called Christmas cards. When graduation comes, things change in a heartbeat — people get busy with careers, family, etc. Casual school relationships are replaced by the guy in the next cubicle. Just like you see your buddy every day in science class now, he’ll see 10 to 20 people every day at work. Many people with disabilities may struggle to be the guy in the next cubicle. Building stronger relationships now will help you maintain friendships that can be quickly forgotten after school. Even in 2016, it will help kids have friends that are part of their lives instead of one of the 257 friends on their Facebook page. They also might help you with finding a job some day.

2) Get out of your comfort zone.

Because relationships can be especially hard to come by growing up with a disability, it’s only natural to find things to fill the void. TV is your biggest escape, especially watching sports. There was a time you wouldn’t miss a Philadelphia 76ers game for almost anything. The internet and video games may be the things that fill the void today. I know you also lift weights, listen to certain sports talk shows, etc. You have your routine — still do in 2016. These seemingly mundane things become very important because they’re yours.

When the rare invitation comes along to do something else, you might be reluctant to skip what you had planned for something that may or may not work out well. Do it.

When others might scoff at the notion that you want to follow your routine instead of going into an unfamiliar situation, push past the natural instinct to be protective of your habit and do the new thing. Take every opportunity to do something new. The opportunities might not be there later on.

Even if you go to a movie you didn’t really want to see with someone you’re so-so about and the night stunk, you did something different. You took care of your own needs a little more than you would have if you were with a close acquaintance. You socialized in a difficult situation. You were around 30 to 50 other people, catching glimpses of how other people interact. It will add to your experiences and help you better handle a future situation.

3) Make a habit of independence.

Throughout your time in special education programs, including being mainstreamed, you’ve eaten lunch with something called a sandwich holder. It’s a plastic device that holds a sandwich with a handle to hold, instead of you trying to pick up the sandwich without crushing it in your not-so-gentle grip. The problem with it is that it doesn’t make you the least bit independent — you still need someone to put the sandwich in the holder and adjust it every couple bites. It’s ridiculous. In reality, it’s a tool that makes life easier for the aides who help you and other kids at lunch.

When you get to college, the lack of services will force you and Mom to realize that you can eat a sandwich with a fork if it is cut up. No, it’s not a complete solution, but it is a much greater level of independence. Using the sandwich holder all those years, I think, is akin to the habit Mom and I still fall into of allowing her to do things that I would normally do independently if I was alone. At times, for example, Mom will even tell me to leave my dishes on the table (or I do it on my own) when normally I would put them in the dishwasher. It’s easier to let Mom do it. It’s faster. There’s less chance of an accident. These things are all true. But these things also lead to a mindset of allowing others to “help” when they’re around, which eventually makes you more and more reliant on that help. When the time comes that you’re on your own to do something, it can be more difficult. Break the habit now and grasp every ounce of independence you can. It’s just like anything else — the more you practice being independent, the better you’ll be at it.

4) Do something you really enjoy.

family posing in front of statue
Rob with his mom, Donna, and nephew, Patrick, cycling in Philadelphia.

One of the biggest “treats” you ever got in school was riding the adaptive cycle in physical therapy. Yet, it was about 30 years later before I got into adaptive cycling. Cycling quickly became one of the best parts of my life. So what happened in the interim? First of all, you got to use the cycle in physical therapy so rarely, it never clicked in your mind as something you loved. Besides the lack of opportunities, I think that a lot of kids with disabilities and their families get so caught up in day-to-day life with a disability that they forget the kids need to have fun.

You had one special education teacher in third or fourth grade (the school didn’t have traditional grades) who literally gave hours of homework on a nightly basis. You’d get home around 4 o’clock, do homework (usually with Mom writing for you) ’til dinner, sometimes more after dinner, then it was bath time. Even in a reasonable year, there was just so much extra “stuff” to deal with that the idea of a fun activity was often unheard of. Find some. For all the same reasons other kids have extra-curricular activities, kids with disabilities need them. They clear your mind, create interaction, and so much more. If activities aren’t available at school, do something at home and make it a priority.

5) Trust yourself.

You wrote two “books” as a kid that you actually got Mom and Dad to make copies of so you could sell them. You even started a school “newspaper” when you were around 10 years old. Along with a couple friends working at it on your own time, you put out two or three issues before the end of the school year. The following year your teacher wanted to make it a class project and that was the end of it. The point is you’ve always wanted to write. The only real mistake you will make with writing is not pursuing it enough. Don’t waste time pursuing other possibilities you know aren’t right for you or listening to people tell you to follow a more stable career path. So far, my writing ability is the only thing that has ever brought me a paycheck, I was always able to put my work up against anyone in my peer group, and the profession has only become more accessible to me. You know your disability and your abilities better than anyone else. Trust that knowledge always. When you find what works for you, go with it.

Rob J. Quinn recently published a novel, The Birth of Super Crip. Learn more about the author and the novel here.

A version of this post first appeared on The Mobility Resource.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to yourself on the day of the diagnosis. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

88
88
TOPICS
, Contributor list
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

When My Extraordinary Loved Ones Help Me by Doing Ordinary Things

64
64

It seems trendy to talk of “ordinary people doing extraordinary things.” You see this phrase all over the place, and it’s meant to make us feel that we, too, can be extraordinary. That’s great, but to me it does a disservice to a lot of people who are truly extraordinary. They do ordinary things, but because they are so extraordinary themselves, they have an extraordinary impact.

I’m a disabled young adult living in Cambridge, UK. Every day — multiple times a day — I am helped by people who are extraordinary doing ordinary things.

For example, one of my friends is always around to help me with my wheelchair. He opens doors, helps with steps, lifts the chair into my car, puts it in a safe place when I’m in a different seat and so on. All of those things are pretty ordinary. We all hold doors open and put things into our cars every day. The difference is that he helps me because he knows I need help, and he knows he can provide it. That makes him extraordinary, and I am grateful.

My mum is certainly not ordinary. Like most mums, she looks after me whatever the issue. She still goes beyond the call of duty, though. She makes an effort to make my food look really attractive when I’m feeling too tired to eat — and it helps. She lifts our dog onto my lap if I want a cuddle or gently removes her if I need a bit of space.

woman lying on the couch with her dog

She drives me to and from hospitals and competitions, and hangs around waiting for me — whether its waiting for me to wake up from anesthetic, to complete a dressage test or to finish a half-marathon. She’s there when I’m scared of brain scans because of my claustrophobia. She’s there when I need someone to take me home after a sedated procedure. She’s there when I need someone to fight my corner for me. These things are all ordinary. They involve driving a car, or sitting in a waiting room or cooking a nice meal. They are ordinary, but she is extraordinary.

Another of my friends is certainly not ordinary. Along with a loyal group of friends from the Cambridge University Riding Club, she has helped to turn my life around in the last year. She volunteers at my Riding for the Disabled center ,and now she has welcomed me onto the university’s (able-bodied) team. Because of her, I am now able to achieve things I would never have thought possible on my own. I’ve ridden in competitions, I’m improving as a rider, I love being with the horses and I’ve met so many new people. She has brought something wonderful into my life, just by being her. She has had an extraordinary impact because she herself is extraordinary.

At the wheelchair racing group, we have some extraordinary coaches. They devote their time, for free, to our group and to making sure we are safe, competitive and happy. They run or cycle alongside us on the roads, they time us as we race around the track, they open water bottles and look after discarded kit. They do ordinary things, but they are extraordinary people.

My boyfriend is pretty extraordinary. Over the last five years, he has seen me in pretty much every mood imaginable. We are probably closer than most couples because of all the things we’ve been through — it’s hard to be embarrassed when your partner has seen you throwing up, dealing with terrible diarrhea, unable to see because your eyes are too swollen from crying, awaiting a doctor to come and shove a finger up your bum to see what effect your back injury has had on your spinal cord, with the hairiest female legs in the world because your hands are too shaky to shave, lying on the floor and fitting again after intense training, or any manner of things. It’s hard to be embarrassed when you need him to detach toilet paper from the roll, or to cut your nails and dry your hair, to set out all your medication, to arrange your limbs in bed, or to pick you up off the floor yet again. These things are pretty ordinary, really — but he isn’t.

man blow-drying woman's hair

We often think of disabled people as being extraordinary — either because their lives are unusual or because they are inspiring. However, I think I personally am more ordinary than extraordinary. More than that, though, I’m lucky, because I am surrounded by some extraordinary folks who make my life truly extraordinary. I’m so grateful to them and to many others.

Keep doing the ordinary things — honestly, I believe those are the things that make you extraordinary. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

64
64
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Ohio Makes Move to Outlaw R-Word in State Law

745
745

One state is making moves to remove the R-word from language in state law.

The Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation on Tuesday to remove references to “mental retardation” from state law and replace the phrase with terminology such as “intellectual disability.”

The bill, HB 158, was a bipartisan effort and, after being passed on a vote of 95-0, will now head to the Ohio State Senate for further consideration.

Other similar changes have been made in Ohio in recent years, according to the Alliance Review. Lawmakers have removed terms like “idiot,” “imbecile” and “drunkard,” because the meanings and stigmas associated with such terms have changed over time. Recently, the legislature also removed “retardation” from state and county agency names.

In 2010, President Obama officially signed bill S. 2781,Rosa’s Law, into federal law, removing the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from federal health, education and labor policy and replacing them with people-first language like “individual with an intellectual disability,” according to Spread The Word To End The Word, an ongoing campaign by Special Olympics, Best Buddies and other supporters to eliminate the use of the “R” word.

In addition to passing legislation that promotes inclusive language, many states have offered an annual proclamation to help bring attention to the mission of Spread the Word to End the Word, including California, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah and Vermont.

Both Indiana and Texas have passed respectful language bills into law which are similar to Ohio’s. Texas passed one in May of 2011 and Indiana passed one in July 2015 to unanimous support in the general assembly.

As we learn more about those with disabilities and we work towards making Ohio a better and more responsive state for the developmentally disabled in our communities, our laws should reflect that collective wisdom,” Rep. Jonathan Dever, one of the sponsors of the bill said, according to the Statehouse News Bureau.

745
745
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Real People. Real Stories.

6,300
CONTRIBUTORS
150 Million
READERS

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.