Why a Simple Thing Like Jeans That Fit Mean So Much

Wed, September 16, 2015 11:48 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Special Guest Blogger: Karen Bowersox of Downs Designs

Do you know that are 3 million kids in schools today that have a disability?  There are children with Down syndrome, children, with autism and children with mental or physical disorders.  So many of these children do not have appropriate clothing to meet their needs or empower them with independence. 

Most of these children are wearing sweatpants every day and clothing that doesn’t fit properly. Parents don’t want to send them to school in clothes that require help from caregivers, especially going to the bathroom.  It’s a constant worry for so many, so they sacrifice style many times for independence.

Here’s an example of how poorly fitting clothes on a child with a disability impacts their life and their families’ life:

  •       ...They may be picked on or laughed at by other children who don’t understand why they dress in sweatpants or leggings every day.
  •       ...Other parents look at the children and think it’s their parent’s fault because they don’t dress them properly or think they don’t care enough about them to buy them nice clothes.
  •       ...Siblings often try to protect their loved one from bullies and may get into fights or in trouble with teachers while trying to defend their brother or sister.

The fashion industry doesn’t seem to be paying attention to the needs of those with a disability and seem only focused on standard size clothing.  Recently there have been a few companies trying to bring more awareness to the forefront.  Runway of Dreams is making inroads in the industry for one and also my company, Downs Designs Dreams, has been getting more recognition for our efforts to change the clothing options for those with disabilities.

Downs Designs Dreams has recently filed for a 501(c)3 and hopes through our new non-profit status, we can begin to bring even more awareness to the clothing struggles and challenges for those people with disabilities.  

So here’s how we are reaching out to our youth in this country and trying to educate them on the clothing struggles faced by people with Down syndrome.  We have a program called Adopt-A-Jean and it’s an amazing way to educate people, and give people with disabilities a little solution to a major problem they may have.

We want to extend our help to your group or organization and present an idea that we hope you find as important as we do. 

Because of the poor clothing options for people with disabilities, they are often judged by how they dress rather than by the person they are. Children in schools can often be cruel and some adults even think their parents don’t care enough about them to dress them properly. 

What we are trying to do is reach out to the young people today and educate them on why people with disabilities often don’t look like their peers.  At the same time, through our Adopt-A-Jean program, offer a solution. 

Here's a scenario:  Someone in church has a son with Down syndrome and their son can’t do buttons or zippers and off-the-rack clothes just don’t fit, so they have no choice but to send him to school in sweatpants every day.  After they heard about the Adopt-A-Jean program, they proposed this idea to the church youth group.

So the youth group decides they want to use this program as this year’s project.  They go to our website and download the Adopt-A-Jean – Start a Project pages.  Here they find the information about this project and what to do.  They can also call our office for help with their project.

So first they need to set a goal.  They find out the price of our jeans and decide how many jeans they want to donate.  Then they decide who they want to donate them to.  Next they plan how to raise the funding. And lastly, when they complete their project, they give us the name, phone number and email of the recipients and we do the rest!

What happens when this youth group does just one of these projects?  First they learn about the clothing struggles that people with Downs syndrome or other disabilities face every day.  (This is all explained on our website.)  They become more understanding, become less judgmental and gain acceptance.  Then when they tell others why they are raising money, they are also educating additional people about these daily challenges. This program not only offers a dressing solution but advocates disability awareness by eliminating possible outside negative perceptions.

Now the best part of the program is there will be a few more children or adults in a pair of our jeans and our jeans have a powerful impact on their lives.  Our jeans give the wearer a new sense of confidence and independence and have a long-reaching effect.

Our mission is to improve the clothing options for people with disabilities and to get more people involved to help spread the word, especially our youth.  We can’t think of a better way!

If you have more questions, give our office a call at 877 390-4851 toll-free...we're here to help. 

Karen Bowersox
Executive Director
Downs Designs Dreams

I want to tell you what WONDERFUL time I had at the conference. I learned so much and came away with lots of ideas for our organization. -Barb Waddle, The Upside of Downs of Northeast Ohio


Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action started as a conference bringing together outstanding leadership from Down syndrome organizations around the country. Learn More

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