British Columbia

Langley woman designs clothes for young disabled girls in wheelchairs

Langley woman designs clothing for girls age two to five in wheelchairs or with feeding tubes that feature less restrictive openings and pockets.

Clothing for girls age 2-5 in wheelchairs or with feeding tubes feature less restrictive openings and pockets

Taylor Byrom's clothing line, Jolie Hart, features clothes that have special pockets and openings to allow feeding and oxygen tubes to come out the sides and not hike up dresses or skirts. (Taylor Byrom)

A Langley fashion designer has come up with a solution to make clothes less uncomfortable and complicated for young girls ages two to five who have complex care needs.

The Jolie Hart fashion line consists of clothes with features such as welt openings or special types of pockets that are less restrictive when wearers are in a wheelchair, have a sensory processing disorder or are attached to tubes for feeding or for supplying oxygen.

"The clothing is still very wearable and very cute. The function that I put in is minimal but still very functional for these families," designer Taylor Byrom told On the Coast host Stephen Quinn.

Got feedback from affected families

"One of the major things that I do for a wheelchair-seated person is that I have a removable back on all my jackets. The back will actually button off at a certain point and that removes a ton of bulk for when you're actually seated."

Byrom demonstrates how the back of a coat can button off to reduce bulk when a child is seated in a wheelchair. (Taylor Byrom)

Byrom launched this line as part of her graduation project at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

The idea came to her while volunteering with B.C. Children's Hospital and then she started to put out surveys to families with complex-care-needs children to hear what kind of clothing would be less restrictive.

She also had some people test out her clothes — such as one young girl who had a line from a special backpack attached to her abdomen all the time.

"Whenever she wore a dress, [the line] would come out the hem and then hike up the hem of her dress," she said. 

Byrom displays another type of opening that allows more freedom for children with complex care needs. (Taylor Byrom)

"But with the dress I had her test for me and give me feedback on, the line actually comes right out the side, so it's nowhere near the hem. It goes right into her backpack, and now you don't have that hiking sensation on the skirt."

Byrom said this girl's mother wrote back to her and said that they "immediately had a sense of freedom."

"It was incredible to hear that it actually did do what I wanted it to do, and it raised her wellness level and her self-esteem level," Byrom said.

"I can design this from what I think is right but to actually get that feedback from parents is priceless for this."

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled: Langley designer creates clothing for young girls who are in wheelchairs, have feeding or oxygen tubes