For Katie Driscoll, a professional photographer and mother of six, the ringing of the school bell this year was a call to action.
After seeing catalogs and back-to-school ads that featured no one who looked like her 4-year-old daughter, Grace, who has Down syndrome, or kids with other disabilities, Driscoll of Palos Park, Ill., organized her own back-to-school photo shoot.
“I noticed that conscious decisions were made to include boys and girl and minorities, but I wondered why kids with disabilities weren’t included, especially with school ads because all kids go to school,” Driscoll, the owner of 5 Boys + 1 Girl = 6 Photography, told ABC News.
“I put a casting call out and got together a group of children that I thought would represent all children returning to school,” she said. “Obviously, you can’t include every diagnosis but I wanted people to see differences because it’s important.”
The resulting photos, taken by Driscoll Aug. 5 at a Chicago bookstore, look like your average back-to-school ad with backpacks, bright clothes and books but feature a range of diversity.
“I want to be the voice, along with anyone else, that says, ‘Let’s consider these kids who are going back to school, too,’” Driscoll said. “Wouldn’t it be great if they saw somebody who used crutches or who has Down syndrome and they’d be able to relate to another child who might be in their classroom.
“The best part of any shoot I do with kids is watching their fears melt away and the kids interacting,” she said.
Driscoll herself is no stranger to advocating for greater diversity in advertisements. She co-founded "Changing the Face of Beauty" nearly three years ago, a movement that seeks to integrate people with disabilities into mass media advertising, according to its website.
“Companies don’t print ads without including minorities,” Driscoll said. “Children with disabilities is one of the largest minorities so why don’t we include them when casting for ads?”