Community Events

‘This Is Me’ fashion show returns for third year proving diversity is a beautiful thing

Written by Tanya Terry

Children and adults who have been diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and 11 other special needs or disabilities will have their chance to shine brightly in front of the crowd at 4 p.m. Sunday, December 5 at the Capitol Theatre! The “This Is Me Fashion Show” is returning to Flint for its third annual celebration of their unique strengths, personalities and individual styles.

According to Tracy Palmer, founder of “This Is Me” and CEO of Trendsetters Productions, one goal of the show is to raise $10,000. A portion of the proceeds will go to the ADHD Foundation. This foundation improves access to public services for children and adults with ADHD, autism, dyslexia, developmental coordination disorder, Tourette syndrome, and sensory integration difficulties. The rest of the funds will help with Trendsetters Productions’ anti-bullying program.

“I think the ultimate goal is always to set a safe haven and platform for these families and to provide resources and introduce them to other families so they can get to know one another and help one another.” Palmer said.

With hair that was shaded with purple, blue and green and a fierce but magnetic smile, it is obvious Palmer has gotten to the point of her life when she no longer cares too much what others think of her. Her passion to help others, including those diagnosed with special needs or disabilities, to feel the same way is apparent in the way her face lights up even more when she talks about “This Is Me.”

There will be a total of 20 participants, including an infant diagnosed with occipital encephalocele (OE). Some of the participants have been diagnosed with epilepsy, are hearing impaired, are blind, have been diagnosed with dyslexia, learning disabilities, sickle cell, ADHD, lupus, behavioral disorders or spina bifida. There is no age limit for “This Is Me,” and this year’s participants range from the infant, who just turned 1-year-old, to age 40.

What they have in common is none of them are defined strictly by their diagnosis. Ten participants will be in the show for the first time this year, and 10 have graced the runway in previous years. They will all be showcasing that they are comfortable with who they are.

“It’s literally geared around something that’s just for them and they know that; so they look forward to that,” Palmer explained.

Palmer said she has literally dreamed about having the show at the Capitol. Not only did she want to have the event at a larger venue, but she wanted to protect the participants by having them on a stage because of COVID.

“My dream was to have everything downtown this time.”

In addition to the show on Sunday, there will be a Meet & Greet for the families from 5-6 p.m. Friday at 501 Bar & Grill and a Pop Up Shop at the Ferris Wheel-open to the public from 12-4 p.m. on Saturday.

One of Palmer’s many partners for “This Is Me” is Hurley Children’s.

“They allowed me to use their photography and videography team for a video that we wanted to produce for the show that included 11 of the ‘This Is Me'” families.”

“This Is Me” was birthed when a mother whose child was diagnosed with autism told Palmer her son loved fashion shows and she thought it would be great if he could be in one. Palmer was already having anti bullying fashion shows, and she knew she had the platform. What she didn’t know, is the event would “change her life.”

Several local designers’ fashions will be featured, along with the fashions of a Detroit designer whose line is geared around anti-bullying.

“We will feature the Rare Genetics (clothing line). The little boy, his mother started a clothing line for him to raise money and awareness.”

Tickets for “This Is Me” will be available at the door.

Tracy Palmer said she came up with the name “This Is Me” because it is not the job of persons with special needs or disabilities to explain themselves or conform.



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