'Amazing showcase': Fashion show focuses on strength, not disability

Over a dozen models with disabilities strutted down the catwalk Sunday at the second annual See The Ability fashion show in Upper Tantallon.

But the focus was on strength, not disability.

"It's about seeing these kids beyond the disability, and see their true ability underneath," said Robin Gushue.

Gushue is the organizer of the fashion show and founder of Living Outside The Lines, a non-profit group that helps families of children with "extraordinary" needs.

Kaitlyn Swan

Some models danced down the catwalk. Others were pushed in their wheelchairs by siblings.

Kaitlyn Swan

Gushue's daughter has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. This is her second year going down the runway.   

"They are showing they got it, they can do it," said Gushue. "They are models and they have talent and charisma."

The fashion show is the organization's largest annual fundraiser. Most of the models are from the Halifax area, although one model came from Truro to be a part of the show. 

Kaitlyn Swan

Cindy Porter's son, Logan, has Down syndrome. He showed off his best moves on the catwalk.

"This is an amazing showcase of the diversity that we see in all communities across Nova Scotia," said Cindy Porter.

"To see the kids showing off their talents in a way that's comfortable for them, it shows us that we all have something to give." 

Kaitlyn Swan

Apart from the fashion show, a silent auction also raised money for Nova Scotia youth with special needs and physical disabilities.

Gushue said her organization has been able to help families afford special equipment for their children and has provided access to specialized education resources. 

Kaitlyn Swan

The models are also stars of a calendar being sold as part of the fundraising effort.

Gushue said children and young people with disabilities are rarely represented in magazines or mainstream media. She wants to change that by showcasing their ability through the fashion show and calendar.

Kaitlyn Swan

"We wanted to put this there so that it could be used as a teaching tool, as a conversation piece, to really start that conversation about seeing the ability and seeing beyond differences and seeing everybody's truth."