What Was “Back-To-School” Like for You?

Being raised within a middle class family with a father working 3 jobs at times to provide our needs, nice new clothing probably felt more special to me compared to other students. During my adolescence I often wore the cheapest clothing my parents could find. I also commonly wore hand-me-downs which, although at times, was noticeable became the only name brand items I owned. I even regrettably remember at times complaining about the clothing to my parents who were working way too hard to provide them to me.

A few teasings and social pressures were my only troubles throughout school which were eventually overcome when I reached an age that I could work and purchase my own wardrobe. Now that I’m working with special needs families on a daily basis, I have learned firsthand the clothing challenges that many individuals and their families go through on a daily basis. Disabilities can make finding proper fitting and appropriate clothing a daunting task for some.

With this new knowledge applied I then retraced my memories a second time. Economic restrictions were the only troubles I faced, but what about the classmates that I went to school with who were overcoming disabilities? Some of their families also were very financially strained which I now know is caused by high insurance rates, medical expenses and sometimes increased challenges limiting a parent’s working availability.

Clothing off the rack no matter how cheap sometimes simply won’t fit these children’s unique body types, work with their sensory challenges, or carry no buttons and zippers which allows their independent dressing. Second hand clothing from others provides zero solutions to these issues. Even the families who could afford to purchase expensive name brand items which were more socially popular found nothing to assist their unique dressing needs. Immediately this triggered questions to swirl throughout my mind pulling me out of my peaceful trip down memory lane.NBZ & Downs Designs

  • Did these students ever feel the same back to school buzz that I did? How often did they wear a new outfit and go through the halls with that pep in their step thinking; I look good today?
  • How often were they granted the luxury of feeling the positive aspects clothing can create; or were they more focused on the visual physical separations and functionalities of their outfits?
  • Are uniformed schools the simple solution, or are these students with clothing restrictions forced to stand out even further if they can’t wear the school’s uniform?

Lastly I wondered why I had never realized these issues occurred during my time in school.

I love working with these individuals and getting to know them as people instead of by their differences. I’m blessed enough every day to develop more of these friendships and continue to engage in these moments. Seeing these individuals light up after finally finding clothes that fit and allow them to look like all their peers is a very rewarding experience.

Reflecting on my own “back-to-school” memories has reconfirmed the importance of advocating for fashion and clothing changes for those whose voices have not been heard. I will remain very motivated in this cause and hopefully it will trigger a positive change in the “back-to-school” experience of every student. If more individuals are educated on these dressing struggles I believe a true sense of acceptance will be developed. The acceptance will not only decrease bullying, but will hopefully urge more to join this mission.

Together we can be the force to provide actual fashion options, and dressing independence for those being left out. I believe if everyone retraced and shared their memories about heading back to school they would understand and also want change.

About William Herron

William HerronWilliam Herron grew up in a small town east of Cleveland, joined and served 4 years in the military, returned home to graduate from Lake Erie College with Communications and Marketing. He is now a proud father to a beautiful 2 year old daughter, remain an avid and heartbroken Cleveland sports fanatic, and enjoy my work helping others here at Downs Designs Dreams (NBZ & Downs Designs)

You can contact him at: William@DownsDesignsDreams.org


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