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Mom Thanks Target After Son's Incredible Reaction To Ad With Boy In Wheelchair

Amy Pilkington 20 Feb 2020

When you're not part of an underrepresented community you can spend your days seeing dozens, if not hundreds, of examples of people just like you. Especially in advertising.

Many people and companies don't even realize they're doing it. They don't go to the pitch meeting planning to veto any idea that includes visible minorities or disabled people, but it simply never occurs to them to pitch ideas with anything other than what's considered "normal."

Things are getting better, though slowly.

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And each time we see a company work to include people who aren't often represented, we get another taste of how powerful that representation can be for those people seeing themselves for the first time.

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It's even more powerful when that discovery is made by a child.

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Which is probably why a picture posted on Facebook by Arizona mom Demi Garza-Pena has struck suck a cord.

In it, she shows her son Oliver, who uses a wheelchair, staring up at display in Target that shows a smiling boy also in a wheelchair.

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She explains that Oliver never gets to see kids like him featured.

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"Thank you Target! 🎯😀👏 Today Oliver stopped me dead in his tracks and turned back around to see this picture that he spotted! He just stared at it in awe! He recognized another boy like him, smiling and laughing on a display at Target. Oliver sees kids every day, but he never gets to see kids like him. This was amazing! I am so happy that other kids that pass through here with their parents, will see this! There is a lot of focus on representing diversity, but representing people with disabilities is just as important! ❤"

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Oliver was born with Caudal Regression Syndrome.

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The syndrome is a rare disorder in which the spiral cord doesn't fully develop. In Oliver's case, he doesn't have a lumbar spine or connection to his legs, leaving him unable to move them.

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Demi told TODAY that they've done everything they can to ensure two-year-old Oliver doesn't see his chair as a liability.

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"A wheelchair is an asset," she said, "I catch him going fast and putting his arms out to the side like he is flying and I can see the freedom it has given him."

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Still, it's hard when there are so few chances for Ollie to see kids like himself in the world.

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"It meant a lot to me as a parent, to see my child look at somebody and feel there are no differences," she said. "Every parent never wants their child to be left out and that is often the case in advertisements. That day, he was not left out. He was represented."

h/t: TODAY

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