A mom's post about a Halloween costume is going viral on Facebook. Thank you, Target!

Jen Kroll got pretty excited when she saw a recent Target ad.

No, it wasn't because of the "buy one, get one half off" sweater deal. It wasn't even because flannel sheets were 15% off.

Nope, not at all. (Though, flannel sheets do sound nice...)


Here's what made her week: a photo of an Elsa Halloween costume.

The ad meant so much to her that she posted it on Facebook and had this to say:

Kroll's Facebook post, shared with her permission.

Do you see what Jen saw? The model sporting the dress worn by Elsa of "Frozen" fame has arm crutches!

Yes, that's a big deal. Especially for Jen because here's a photo of her incredibly cute daughter, who just so happens to love Elsa:

I mean, seriously. Can you even with the adorableness?! Photos by Jen Kroll, used with permission.

I reached out to Jen, who's a photographer and mom to three kids, to find out more about her daughter's story.

Jen's youngest child, Jerrensia, came to her family on a medical visa from Haiti in 2011. She was just 14 months old at the time. "The closest diagnosis she fits into is Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC)," Jen explained to me. That basically means that she has significant issues with her joints. "Specifically," says Jen, "her hip sockets never formed properly, [her] knees were locked at a 90 degree angle, [her] feet were clubbed, and she lacked nearly all muscle tone in her legs."

For two years, Jerrensia was in intense physical therapy. Unfortunately, she didn't make much progress and "despite innovative orthotics, we made the difficult decision to amputate her legs through the knees," Jen shared. And while that must have been a difficult decision, it turned out to be the difference between being completely reliant on a wheelchair to get around and having more mobility options.

Today, Jerrensia is an active 5-year-old who "walks and RUNS everywhere on prosthetic legs and uses arm crutches to compensate for the lack of muscular development in her legs," Jen explained.

Amazing!

Mother and daughter, having some fun with selfies!

Jen talked about the ad and what normalizing disabilities through advertising and media means to kids like her daughter — and, just as importantly, what it means to kids who don't have disabilities.

"In mainstream culture, perfection is valued," she said. (Can I get an amen?!) "Special needs families exist in a subculture. The challenges we face are shared with those who understand them. And we're virtually invisible to the outside world."

Even more than being perceived differently — or worse, being invisible — children with special needs face distinct disadvantages in the world. Jen shared these stories with me that, sadly, aren't uncommon:

"While we have an incredible school that has embraced our daughter and are actively working to provide the best environment conducive to learning, another friend has recently been forced to hire an attorney at great personal cost because her school will not provide safe and accessible entry and exit from the building. Her kids are treated as an inconvenience. This is still happening every day in America.

While we have great acceptance and love in our little social circles, stepping outside of them is a different experience. Our daughter becomes a circus side show and many people lose all their manners. Recently at the zoo, we experienced a school group of a dozen children between the ages of 8-10 who circled our daughter in a play area. They swarmed her, pointing, laughing, and staring at her legs. It was brutal for a 5-year-old. And it took everything in me to not go Mama Bear in the absence of their teachers and chaperones."

"People do not see children like my daughter very often," Jen said. "They don't SEE children with disabilities."

Jen talked about how there aren't many movies with lead characters who have disabilities or special needs, and when they are included, it's usually to teach a lesson to another character.

"So when I saw Target place a child with Spina Bifida front and center, advertising Disney's sweetheart, Elsa, it brought me to tears," she said. "This little girl was no longer invisible. Arm crutches and leg braces were demystified. Target made an effort to make her a part of mainstream culture. Not as an object lesson, but as a beautiful child with a great smile who was clearly excited about being Elsa."

BOOM.

That matters, because sooo many kids with beautiful smiles just like Jerrensia's are complex human beings. They weren't put on this Earth to serve as lessons for others. If our kids can grow up in a world where special needs and disabilities are normalized, others won't perceive them as oddities but as the unique individuals they are.


Kids learn from the world around them, which is why the world around them should be inclusive and representative.

When Jen showed the Target ad to her three kids — 5-year-old Jerrensia and her older brothers, ages 9 and 13 — they were all excited.

One said, “Look at Elsa! She has crutches just like you!" Jerrensia was thrilled. She shouted, "Wow! Just like me!"

Jen summed it up so well, so I'll leave you with her words as a parting thought:

"We work very, very hard to make sure that her little corner of the world is anything but lonely and void of other children with similar abilities. But as far as media is concerned — there is a vast emptiness of children with whom she can relate. A Target ad with one precious little girl dressed as Elsa met her where she was and made the world a little more beautiful and friendly."

Thank you, Target! Now it's time for other retailers to jump on board this important train!

True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less

The recent passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg not only marked the end of an illustrious life of service to law and country, but the beginning of an unprecedented judicial nomination process. While Ginsburg's spot on the Supreme Court sits open, politicians and regular Americans alike argue over whether or not it should be filled immediately, basing their arguments on past practices and partisan points.

When a Supreme Court vacancy came up in February of 2016, nine months before the election, Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell refused to even take up a hearing to consider President Obama's pick for the seat, arguing that it was an election year and the people should have a say in who that seat goes to.

Four years later, a mere six weeks before the election, that reasoning has gone out the window as Senate Republicans race to get a nominee pushed through the approval process prior to election day. Now, they claim, because the Senate majority and President are of the same party, it makes sense to proceed with the nomination.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


Schools often have to walk a fine line when it comes to parental complaints. Diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and preferences for what kids see and hear will always mean that schools can't please everyone all the time, so educators have to discern what's best for the whole, broad spectrum of kids in their care.

Sometimes, what's best is hard to discern. Sometimes it's absolutely not.

Such was the case this week when a parent at a St. Louis elementary school complained in a Facebook group about a book that was read to her 7-year-old. The parent wrote:

"Anyone else check out the read a loud book on Canvas for 2nd grade today? Ron's Big Mission was the book that was read out loud to my 7 year old. I caught this after she watched it bc I was working with my 3rd grader. I have called my daughters school. Parents, we have to preview what we are letting the kids see on there."

Keep Reading Show less

"Very nice!" It appears as though Kazakhstan's number one reporter, Borat Sagdiyev, is set to return to the big screen in the near future and the film's title is a sight to behold.

Reports show that the title submitted to the Writer's Guild of America, "Borat: Gift Of Pornographic Monkey To Vice Premiere Mikhael Pence To Make Benefit Recently Diminished Nation Of Kazakhstan" is even longer than the first film's, "Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan."

As the title suggests, the film is expected to feature an encounter with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence as well as President Trump's TV lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Keep Reading Show less