Nova Scotia

'Amazing showcase': Fashion show focuses on strength, not disability

Over a dozen models with disabilities strutted down the catwalk Sunday at the second annual See The Ability fashion show in Upper Tantallon, N.S. But the focus was on strength, not disability.

'It's about seeing these kids beyond the disability, and see their true ability underneath'

Robin Gushue walks down the runway with one of this year's models. (Kaitlyn Swan)

Over a dozen models with disabilities strutted down the catwalk Sunday at the second annual See The Ability fashion show in Upper Tantallon, N.S.

But the focus was on strength, not disability.

"It's about seeing these kids beyond the disability, and see their true ability underneath," said Robin Gushue.

Gushue is the organizer of the fashion show and founder of Living Outside The Lines, a non-profit group that helps families of children with "extraordinary" needs.

Robin Gushue is the founder of Living Outside The Lines. (Kaitlyn Swan)

Some models danced down the catwalk. Others were pushed in their wheelchairs by siblings.

Gushue's daughter has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. This is her second year going down the runway. 

Gushue's daughters go down the runway together. (Kaitlyn Swan)
 

"They are showing they got it, they can do it," said Gushue. "They are models and they have talent and charisma."

The fashion show is the organization's largest annual fundraiser. Most of the models are from the Halifax area, although one model came from Truro, N.S., to be a part of the show. 

Models go down the runway. (Kaitlyn Swan)

Cindy Porter's son, Logan, has Down syndrome. He showed off his best moves on the catwalk.

"This is an amazing showcase of the diversity that we see in all communities across Nova Scotia," said Cindy Porter.

"To see the kids showing off their talents in a way that's comfortable for them, it shows us that we all have something to give." 

Patrick Flewelling, 19, is from Hammonds Plains. (Kaitlyn Swan)

Apart from the fashion show, a silent auction also raised money for Nova Scotia youth with special needs and physical disabilities.

Gushue said her organization has been able to help families afford special equipment for their children and has provided access to specialized education resources. 

Seventeen models were a part of this year's fashion show, up from 12 last year. (Kaitlyn Swan)

The models are also stars of a calendar being sold as part of the fundraising effort.

Gushue said children and young people with disabilities are rarely represented in magazines or mainstream media. She wants to change that by showcasing their ability through the fashion show and calendar.

Children and young adults participate. (Kaitlyn Swan)

"We wanted to put this there so that it could be used as a teaching tool, as a conversation piece, to really start that conversation about seeing the ability and seeing beyond differences and seeing everybody's truth."

MORE TOP STORIES

About the Author

Kaitlyn Swan is a Cree multimedia journalist from Regina. Three years ago she traded the sound of trains for the sound of foghorns. She now lives in Dartmouth, N.S., constantly pumped about water and windy roads, scenery she didn't get often in the Prairies. Reach her on Twitter @SaitlynKwan, or by email kaitlyn.swan@cbc.ca

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.