Nonprofit takes positive message about people with disabilities to schools

Gigi, a model featured in Changing the Face of Beauty's educational video, poses for the camera. (Changing the Face of Beauty)

A nonprofit that aims to increase visibility of people with disabilities in the media is going on the road this school year.

Katie Driscoll started Changing the Face of Beauty when she realized her daughter Grace, who has Down syndrome, wasn't adequately represented in back-to-school advertising. The nonprofit now partners with 26 companies, such as Nordstrom and Matilda Jane, and it also offers headshot clinics to help models with disabilities.

This year they're visiting high schools and colleges around the country with an educational program featuring people with all kinds of disabilities. The 5-day, $1,000 program includes a video about how embracing diversity benefits the models, businesses and the community.

"We have a very diverse customer base, and it made sense that our models should reflect that diversity," Erik Nordstrom of Nordstrom's said in a PSA released ahead of the program's launch.

Changing the Face of Beauty said that it hopes that the PSA and the full program will educate students, who are the future of advertising and the media, and empower them to make a change.

"Education is power," said Ashley Matts, one of the models in the full-length video. "We need to educate people both inside and outside the disability community that differences are a beautiful part of our world."

Ashley and her daughter Quinn are featured in Changing the Face of Beauty's educational video.

Ashley, whose young daughter Quinn is also a model with a disability featured in the video, said that she hopes the advertising and media communities will change for her daughter's future.

"Growing up, I didn't see people who look like me in media. I still don't," she said. "I want that to change so my daughter never has to experience what that feels like."
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educationadvertisinghigh schoolcollegedisabilityschoolback to school