Qiu Hosts Inclusive Fashion Show For Youths With Special Needs

by Anne Das

Fashion is about breaking new ground, and Quest International University (QIU) did its part to break stereotypes by organising an inclusive fashion show for children and youths with special needs.

A total of 19 participants, aged between four and 22 years old, took part in the Summer Runway Show 2023, held at QIU’s La Place café here. The models were from Ipoh’s Sekolah Semangat Maju and Ohana Centre, joined by children of QIU academics. They showcased their best outfit ideas, in line with the “Light Up in Blue” theme.

Held in conjunction with World Autism Awareness Day, the day of friendship, fun and fashion aimed to promote neurodiversity and inclusivity, as well as raise awareness about autism and its unique challenges. It also set out to promote positive body image among the participants, giving them an enjoyable chance to strut their stuff in the limelight.

Resplendent in beaming smiles and creative outfits, the youths brought something unique to the usual runway walk, as their positive personalities shone through on stage. The three best-dressed participants walked away with awards, while complimentary gifts were also given to all of the talented models of the day.

The event was organised by the university’s School of Education, which is part of its Faculty of Social Sciences. It gave QIU students a good opportunity to work hand-in-hand with individuals with special needs and organise awareness events for this noble cause.

QIU Chief Operating Officer Nicholas Goh said: “Inclusivity is vital at QIU. Through our community outreach initiatives, we have consistently worked to empower individuals with special needs and raise awareness about the challenges they face. Today’s event is about breaking preconceived notions and boundaries that are sometimes attached to people with special needs. They are incredibly creative and talented, and it’s all about providing them with the right platform.”

“Hosting this event also gives our students the chance to glean valuable hands-on experience. It will be particularly meaningful to our Bachelor of Special Needs Education (Honors) students, as the experience will make them better educators in the future.”

Principal of Sekolah Semangat Maju schools and Perak Association for Intellectually Disabled Project Manager Annie Margaret Lourdes added: “Every autistic person is different— different in strengths,  support needs and challenges throughout their life. In conjunction with Autism Awareness Day,  let’s come together to increase awareness of autism and end the stigma and discrimination that autistic individuals often experience.  By way of inclusion and acceptance,  we can create more opportunities for them to reach their full potential.”

Principal of the Ohana Centre Emily Loo May Ling said: “Today’s event is important because it shows that children with special needs are able to show their talents. They should not be hidden away. Support and involvement from families and communities are vital, as we should see the able, not the label.”

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