Delaney Skye Ott-dahl loves Disney movies, and just like any other little girl, she wants to be a princess. But sadly, the 16-month-old special needs girl never gets to see a princess that looks like her.
Delaney has Down syndrome, and although Disney has given us princesses of all colors and races, the company has never made a movie with a disabled princess. Maybe that will change soon, though — Delaney’s parents have started a Care2 petition asking Disney for a special needs prince or princess that their daughter and other children like her can relate to.
So far, nearly 55,000 people agree — and the petition is gaining signatures every day.
Keston Ott-dahl, Delaney’s mother, told the Orlando Sentinel, “I would love for Disney to make in their animated films … heroes, princes and princesses of all abilities,” she said, “so people like Delaney will feel included and more people will have compassion.”
Ott-dahl pointed out that Disney has featured very few disabled characters in their movies, citing the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Nemo with his smaller fin as two of the rare examples. She feels that by adding a leading character with Down syndrome or another disability — such as this little boy with a rare birth defect featured in a recent Inquisitr story — the company can help promote understanding and acceptance of children like hers.
“When kids are growing up and seeing these characters, they’re not thinking of a classmate with Down syndrome,” she said. “They’re seeing a beautiful princess. As Disney portrays people [with Down syndrome], they can teach future generations to be more compassionate and more accepting and unjudgmental of kids who are not like them,” she said.
The petition, which you can see in full here, is a heartfelt plea to Disney to add children like Delaney to their movies.
“Our daughter has Down syndrome. Like other children, she adores animated movies — so when I see her mesmerized by Disney princesses, it breaks my heart to know that she has no role models like herself,” Keston writes in the petition. “Children with Down syndrome are princes and princesses, too!”
“Disney does a great job of depicting right from wrong. It has long providing wonderful moral lessons that teach our children to be good people — but sadly, the company comes up short in one critical area. Its movies have almost no representation of disabled people, those often bullied and looked down upon by their fellow children. What wonderful lessons of diversity, compassion, and acceptance Disney could teach our kids if they promoted disabled characters as heroes and heroines in their beloved movies!”
HLN contacted Disney on Wednesday to get their reaction to the petition, but as of this report there has been no response.
Do you think Disney should have a special needs prince or princess?
[Images via The Petition Site/Keston Ott-dahl]