Jen Spickenagel Kroll, whose daughter has a disability, posted the ad to Facebook and praised the retailer. She wrote, “Including children with special needs into advertising makes them less of a spectacle to the general public when they venture out into the real world. Normalizing disabilities in children is PRICELESS.” Since she posted her comment, advocacy groups, parents of children with disabilities, and other members of the public have praised Target on Twitter.
Her daughter, Jerrensia, is almost 6. Kroll traveled to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and met her in an orphanage near the capital, Port-au-Prince. The closest medical diagnosis for her condition is Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita. Her hip sockets never developed properly, her knees were locked at 90-degree angles, her feet were clubbed, and most of her leg muscles did not develop. Her legs were amputated two years ago.
Jerrensia now wears prosthetic legs and walks with arm crutches. She enjoys kindergarten, ballet, gymnastics, baseball, and downhill skiing. She is also a fan of Disney princesses, including Elsa.
Jerrensia was thrilled when her brothers showed her the Target ad. She has had negative experiences with people pointing and staring at her because of her disability. Kroll hopes the Target ad and others like it will expose more people to kids with special needs and help them see beyond their disabilities.
Target said it tries hard to include all of its guests in advertising. The company has been praised before for inclusive advertising. An ad in 2012 included a child with Down Syndrome, and in August the company revamped its plus-size clothing line and announced that it would no longer designate children’s items for specific genders.
We are proud of Target for including children with disabilities in their advertising and for helping to combat the discrimination that kids with special needs sometimes experience. We hope that this ad and others like it will help people see beyond disabilities and celebrate the abilities of special needs children.