Our friends at the Runway of Dreams Foundation launched a first-of-its-kind campaign last week. Known as the “Campaign for Inclusion,” it unites six industry-leading fashion brands with a unique community of models and influencers with disabilities. The goal is capture to the magic that Runway of Dreams creates at annual shows such as New York Fashion Week, and bring it to the wider world.
The campaign’s headliner, Shaquem Griffin, is the most successful NFL player with a limb difference who ever lived. An upper-limb amputee since the age of four, Griffin starred in college at the University of Central Florida and was an obvious candidate for the 2018 NFL draft. But would any team be brave enough to spend one of its picks on a one-handed player?
“I’ve had people doubt me my whole life,” he wrote in the weeks before the draft. “There have always been people who have questioned whether or not I could play this game. And I’m convinced that God has put me on this earth for a reason, and that reason is to show people that it doesn’t matter what anybody else says, because people are going to doubt you regardless. The important thing is that you don’t doubt yourself.”
A few weeks later, the Seattle Seahawks selected Griffin in the fifth round. He spent parts of four seasons in the NFL before retiring at the start of last season.
Those experiences make Griffin an outstanding spokesperson for the Campaign for Inclusion, which aims raise awareness and change perceptions about disability by celebrating people’s differences, challenging stereotypes, and promoting the benefits of adaptive and inclusive products that serve all consumers, both able-bodied and disabled.
Another prominent face in the Campaign for Inclusion is Emma Rowley, a bilateral arm amputee who’s built a huge social media following (150K on Instagram, 230K on TikTok). It’s a bit ironic for her to help front campaign about disability clothing, because she once got suspended from a platform over a post showing how she gets dressed. Because the video shows her in various stages of undress, it was labeled “sexual content.”
It’s those kinds of misperceptions that the Campaign for Inclusion is designed to dispel. “People with disabilities are the largest minority on the planet,” says Runway of Dreams founder Mindy Scheier. “Through the Campaign for Inclusion’, we are reframing perceptions of disability and showing the importance of disability representation.”
The Campaign for Inclusion’s presenting sponsor is Sephora. Other participating brands are Zappos, Kohls, Target, JCPenney, Adidas, and Tommy Hilfiger.