I am a keen runner and have been for over 10 years. I have surprised myself (and quite a few others!) with my dedication to my beloved sport. A running event is never too far, too early, or too small for me to want to enter! This is a concept that my nearest and dearest initially found difficult to embrace but they have done it (thank you).
My other passion is championing (dis)ability. For me, we are all human, whatever labels we have or identify with. What I think is important is that we focus on everyone’s abilities and celebrate their achievements. I have long pondered as to how I can bridge the divide between my two passions. With Diversity Designs, I think I have done that.
Type in the word “disability” into a search engine and what images do you see? Wheelchairs and walking sticks! I don’t have a problem with this. Both may be needed by anyone with an impairment who has difficulty moving around. However, what I do have a problem with is the lack of inspiring and empowering images of (dis)abled people in our society.
Parasport has shown us that someone with an impairment can not only participate in sport but achieve at the highest level. Anyone who has watched the Paralympics or the Invictus Games will know this. So, if (dis)abled people are achieving amazing things in sport, where are all the inspiring and empowering images of them doing so? Why are we only confronted with images of wheelchairs and walking sticks?! For me, it’s because (dis)ability is a little bit scary, not fully understood nor embraced by the majority who aren’t (dis)abled. (This is not a criticism, it’s my observation as to where society is regarding its thinking on (dis)ability).
What I think we need is a more inclusive society that embraces and celebrates the diversity of the human. (Dis)ability imagery needs to become part of mainstream culture. One-way of doing so is by increasing the imagery of parathletes that people see every day. You see it, register it, maybe subconsciously, and the imagery just becomes part of the daily landscape (just as it should be!). When I started my business I was unable to find any clothing or merchandise that did this.
So, this is where Diversity Designs comes in. It’s a range that embraces us all including bridging the gap between running and (dis)ability. For example, images of able-bodied and (dis)abled, girls, girls of different races and religions, and young, old, slim, and curvy girls running! I am very proud to say that my “Run, girl, run!” collection includes images of wheelchair athletes, arm amputees, blade runners, and vision-impaired runners.
I have a Diversity Designs store on Zazzle for merchandise and one on Teemill for clothing. I use the #Animagelikeme and this, I think, says it all. In addition, each product includes an affirmation or a phrase that can promote good mental health.
At present, Diversity Designs consists of the “Run, girl, run” collection. In the future, the plan is to expand Diversity Designs to include a “Run, Boy, Run!” collection and other sports for girls. In launching my collection, I thought I would be joining a conversation. Instead, I am starting one and I am hoping you will join me.