‘This Is Me’ special needs fashion show in Flint looks to inspire hundreds – MLive.com


FLINT, MI — “This Is Me” is back and its bigger than ever.

In its fourth year, the fashion show featuring differently-abled models will take place at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11 at the Capitol Theatre, located at 1241 E. Kearsley St., in downtown Flint.

“We have so many new faces (and) so many new opportunities and resources. We’re so excited,” Tracy Palmer, the event’s creator and owner of Trendsetter Productions, told MLive-The Flint Journal. “We created this as a safe haven and a space for them to be free, to not be judged by whatever their disability might be, whether that’s spina bifida, autism, hearing impaired, Down syndrome or paraplegic.

“They are capable of doing everything they want to do in this life, and that’s the space we create — a space with no limits to allow them to be anyone they want to be.”

In 2018, Palmer was approached by Charise Key-Gray at one of her fashion shows against bullying.

Key-Gray thought her son Emari Suggs and his love of fashionable socks would do well on the runway.

Inspired by the interaction, Palmer set out to give a platform to individuals who have special needs and a spotlight to do something that they’re more than capable of doing.

The show will feature 23 participants and families this year.

There will be four sets of participants that will walk the runway. Three of the sets will feature local designers’ lines and clothing.

The fourth, which will start the show off, is a personality set that allows participants to show themselves off in the clothing that makes them most comfortable, bringing out their best and feeling themselves.

Palmer said this set is her favorite because they wear the smiles just as bright as their outfit choices, which include superheroes, unicorns and some classic fashion.

Songs will play with each set and have a tone that will ring true to the audience with a message, she said.

“It literally changes lives,” Palmer said. “From the families, to the volunteers, the designers and most definitely the participants, it’s life-changing. It gives you a different perspective. You’re no longer on the outside looking in, but now you’re a part of what’s happening. And you are a part of allowing participants to be and feel free.

“I love this for so many reasons, but one big one is the relationships we build that are ever-lasting. The participants look forward to this every year, and now these families connect year-round and even go on vacation together. They are learning together. They are experiencing life together now, and encouraging one another, on the good days and even the bad days. It’s incredible to see.”

Last year, the show drew about 325 people in the audience, and Palmer hopes to see that number double this year.

RELATED: Confidence takes center stage at ‘This is Me’ special needs fashion show in Flint

Palmer said one of the event’s biggest supporters is the Autism Support and Resource Center in Flint, and she is so grateful for the programs the organization provides for participants’ families throughout the year.

Tickets are $21 each and sold online through The Whiting or The Capitol Theatre. Tickets will also be sold at the door. The event is expected to last approximately two hours.

“I want the community to come out and support and ultimately learn one big lesson — to be kind,” Palmer said. “It’s OK to ask questions, but be kind. We should never judge a book by its cover, and you will quickly find that these participants are amazing, each with their own talents and abilities they bring to this world.”

Read more at The Flint Journal:

Flint community ‘gem’ gets $11.5M in Flint ARPA, Mott Foundation funding

$11.5M for Flint’s historic Berston Field House gets initial approval

Remembering Bryant ‘BB’ Nolden: See his legacy, impact on Flint in pictures

‘I’m so proud of him’: Michigan airman returns home, surprises 11-year-old brother

Little Miss Flint aims to buyout ‘Black Panther’ screenings for Flint kids, families

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