A mother shared a heartwarming moment when her toddler, who uses a wheelchair, encountered a Target ad that featured a young model in a wheelchair. On February 4, Demi Garza-Pena was shopping inside a Target in Peoria, Arizona with her 1-year-old son, Oliver “Ollie,” when they came across the ad. The viral post has brought attention to Target and the company’s push for inclusive advertising.
Oliver was born with caudal regression syndrome, which affects his lower spine and organ functions. During a visit to Target, Ollie noticed a Target clothing sign featuring a young boy model in a wheelchair. According to his mom, he stopped and “just stared at it in awe.”
On a post written on the family’s Facebook page, known as Ollie’s World, Garza-Pena wrote, “He recognized another boy like him, smiling and laughing on a display at Target. Oliver sees kids every day, but he never gets to see kids like him.”
The post went viral on social media, being shared nearly 30,000 times. It reached Ashley Robinson in West Springfield, Massachusetts, the mother of 10-year-old Colton Robinson, who is the model in the ad. Colton, who has spina bifida, has been modeling since 2014.
“I was overcome by emotion and started crying,” Robinson told Good Morning America. “The expression on Oliver’s face looking up to Colton was extremely touching.” For the two mothers, they share the belief in the importance of having children like theirs represented in popular media.
“Children of all abilities and sizes need to be represented,” Robinson said. “I mean, who doesn’t want to look at an ad and see someone that you have something in common with? It’s important for everyone to feel included. It’s just a beautiful thing.”
Target’s page on “Diversity & Inclusion” details their commitment to providing an inclusive experience. The site reads, “To advance diversity & inclusion, we champion a more inclusive society through creating an inclusive guest experience, having an inclusive work environment, ensuring we have a diverse workforce and leveraging our influence to drive positive impact on society.”
Last Halloween, Target’s Halloween Hyde & EEK! Boutique brand launched four disability-friendly costumes and two themed wheelchair covers. With the costumes, children could become a shark, unicorn, princess, or pirate. Earlier than that, their brands Cat & Jack and Pillowfort offered choices to accommodate children with special needs.
“It’s what we live for, what we love to see that kind of backing and see that support not only for Ollie but just the things Target’s been doing,” Luca Bakemeier, the Target Store Director, told ABC.