Disability advocates praise The Warehouse for model in wheelchair

The Warehouse is being praised by disability advocates for featuring models Jaden Movold, who uses a wheelchair and Lily-Mae Ivatt-Oakley, who lives with Down Syndrome, in its latest catalogue.

It's the first time The Warehouse has used a model in a wheelchair.

12-year-old Jaden said being featured in the catalogue was "awesome" because he was shown not as a "token" disabled child but as a "regular kid".

"I didn't stand out as the disabled kid, it was great to one of the regular kids," he said.

Jaden said people with disabilities were usually portrayed by media and advertising as either a "victim or a hero", rather than a regular person.

"But it didn't look like, 'oh look at the poor kid' or 'look at that awesome kid', it was just normal," he said.

Jaden's mum Lise Baldwin said despite her son being part of an acting agency for years, he struggled to get auditions because companies had an image in mind that didn't include him.

"It never includes disability unless it is for a disability product or disability service," she said.

"But he can be a regular kid and not the disabled kid," she said.

Founder of disability support charity SmileDial Kelly Dugan said seeing Jaden and Lily-Mae in the catalogue was "massive".

"We've got mums saying they opened up the catalogue and they cried," Mr Dugan said.

SmileDial founder Kelly Dugan said seeing a photo of a model in a wheelchair was "massive" for him and five-year-old Lucia. Source: 1 NEWS

"It seems like the smallest thing but for us parents in my community it’s amazing the acknowledgment - they're noticed, they're included."

Mr Dugan's five-year-old daughter Lucia lives with cerebral palsy, and seeing a child who used a wheelchair was "everything" to him.

"It's such a small thing but it's huge," he said.

The Warehouse spokeswoman Tanya Henderson said the company was proud to use a diverse range of models in its advertising.

"While a significant proportion of New Zealanders live with disabilities, often they are absent from media or imagery that showcase New Zealand brands," she said.

"The Warehouse wants a fair representation of all New Zealanders across its advertising channels."

Mr Dugan said that this needed to be "the norm, not the exception".

"I would like to challenge every company to do the same thing, let's make this normal," he said.

Jaden agreed, saying it was important to show that "able bodied people are not the only people who wear clothes."

"I wear clothes too!" he said.

12-year-old Jaden Movold said it was awesome to be featured as a "regular kid". Source: 1 NEWS