Disney’s princesses are growing more diverse by the decade, but children with disabilities often don’t see themselves reflected on the silver screen.
Keston Ott-Dahl and Andrea are parents to 15-month-old Delaney, who has Down Syndrome. They are petitioning Disney to represent children with the disability to in their animated movies.
Delaney loves movies like “Frozen” and her mother calls herself a huge Disney fan.
“Disney has done such a great job inspiring children, generation after generation, to be good people,” Ott-Dahl told the Orlando Sentinel. “They are in a unique position to directly change the way future generations and societies view people with Down syndrome.”
Down Syndrome is disorder caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21. It’s characterized by delayed physical growth, mild to moderate intellectual disability and unique facial features. Though Disney has had characters with physical disabilities, like Quasimodo in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and Nemo in “Finding Nemo,” none of them have the same characteristics as people with Down Syndrome.
The petition reads, in part, “[Disney] movies have almost no representation of disabled people, those often bullied and looked down upon by their fellow children. What wonderful lessons of diversity, compassion, and acceptance Disney could teach our kids if they promoted disabled characters as heroes and heroines in their beloved movies!”
Representation is critical for those who are disabled, and it could help limit the bullying and discrimination children often face. One in every 691 babies is born with Down Syndrome and there are over 400,000 individuals are living with the disorder in the U.S.
“I would love for Disney to make in their animated films … heroes, princes and princesses of all abilities,” Ott-Dahl said, “so people like Delaney will feel included and more people with have compassion.”
Currently, the petition is less than 500 signatures short of their 62,000 goal. It seems like a happily ever after may not be too far into the future.