Earlier this month, Gap posted a photo on the brand's Facebook page to promote its autumn kids collection. The ad shows a group of children getting ready for a class photo while ... wearing Gap clothes of course. But what has caught many special needs parents' eyes is the girl in the wheelchair in the second row.
Seven-year-old Ines Mitsouras has cerebral palsy. As her mom Melinda excitedly wrote in the comments for the ad, "The girl in the wheel chair is my daughter and love the fact that the Gap promotes inclusion for everyone! She is just a regular girl who loves shopping, dolls and the gap, but has cerebral palsy!"
Other special needs parents are applauding the ad as well. Writing about it on Babble, mom Ellen Seidman, whose son also has cerebral palsy, highlighted the importance of images like Gap's photo. "The more people see kids with disabilities in ads and TV programs, the more they’ll come to see them as kids like any other."
"Awesome! Showing this to my girlie when she gets home from school. She's 14, loves movies and video games, loves fashion and happens to have Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair," wrote another mom.
While Gap's class photo ad is a step in the right direction, we still have a long way to go before inclusivity for kids with special needs becomes the norm. As mom Katie Driscoll wrote when she created her own back-to-school ads featured kids of different abilities, "All kids of all abilities share the same excitement and anxiety about returning to school. The imagery needed to reflect that."