Disney has not shied away from characters with disabilities, and they have risen to create princesses with diversity of appearance, background, and goals. But there’s not a princess or a character to whom children with can relate. October is Down syndrome awareness month, and some mothers in the San Francisco Bay area are collecting signatures for a petition they intend to present to the Walt Disney Company at the end of the month.
Keston Ott-Dahl’s 15 month old daughter, Delaney, loves Disney movies and Disney princesses. Ott-Dahl would like to see a princess with some of Delaney’s challenges succeed as Disney princesses do, so that Delaney and other children with Down syndrome might have a role model who seems more accessible. Delaney’s mom acknowledges that Disney has tremendous influence on children and on society as a whole in demonstrating values and moral characters in their films and merchandising. If Disney were to add a developmentally disabled princess, it could affect change in the way the world views people with Down syndrome.
While Disney has shown us Nemo with his under-developed fin, and Dopey, whose very name says he’s not very bright, both of whom have huge hearts and wonderful character traits, they have not ventured into the realm of princes or princesses with any disabilities or challenges. In fact, the closest Disney has come to a developmentally challenged character is the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Ott-Dahl, who is also an author and a Down syndrome activist created and launched the petition (Care2.com petition) on October 2, hoped for one thousand signatures. Latest numbers show that there are almost 37,000 signatures. This petition, if received and responded to by Disney, could increase compassion and lessen bullying for children with Down syndrome at the same time it is giving these children heroes and animated characters they can watch, enjoy, and aspire to be like.
If you think Disney should add some heroes with developmental challenges, you can visit the petition at Care2.com petition and add your name to the growing numbers of people who hope Disney will listen.
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I’m Jeri. I’m a wife, a mom, a nana, and a lover of all things Disney! I love writing for ChipandCo and I’m also an Independent Travel Agent with World of Magic Travel, the preferred travel agency of ChipandCo. If you’re ready to visit a Disney location, or sail the seas on Disney Cruise Line, contact me at email@example.com!