A new local clothing collaboration promoting inclusivity is helping support a charity serving youth and adults with visible and invisible disabilities.
The project, started by Kathy Heath, aims to raise funds and awareness about people living with disabilities.
Heath’s nine-year-old son, Abel, has autism. For the past year, Heath has sought connections with other parents with children on the spectrum to gain inspiration and advice.
“I personally felt really isolated and alone,” Heath said. “It was a tough journey to go through.”
Her blog, The Autism Edit, found a large audience and sparked a podcast and email newsletters to help connect with even more people.
“I really gained strength from hearing other people’s stories and what they’ve been through,” Heath told CTV News Edmonton. “So I wanted to share mine in the hopes of helping others through theirs.”
This year, to help celebrate Autism Awareness Month, Heath partnered with a local graphic design artist to create a clothing line representing her son Abel and other children like him.
“The hope is that everyone is a little bit more inclusive and gives a little more time of day to the people in their lives that they might meet that do have a different way of communicating and understanding,” Heath said.
“There’s more than what people see on the surface,” she added. “These amazing, unique designs support inclusion and discuss how it’s important for everyone in the community, not just anyone with a disability.”
The collection features t-shirts, sweaters, baby jumpers, and toques displaying inclusive messages to ensure no one feels excluded due to their anxiety, disability, sexuality, or colour of their skin. Local designer and mastermind behind The Branded Good, Lianne Cawley, carefully created the designs featured in the clothing line.
“The first design was, ‘I have a whole universe in my mind,’ and that was inspired by Kathy’s son,” Cawley said. “I really wanted to capture what is going on in their minds and be insightful of their experiences.”
A photo showing one of the designs featured in the fundraising collaboration (CTV News Edmonton/Ryan Harding).
All proceeds will support Edmonton non-profit organization AdaptAbilities, a group focused on helping those with disabilities to develop the skills to grow and succeed.
“Just know you are not alone in your journey,” Heath said. “Support others and find that community.”
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Ryan Harding