Joseph Hale is eleven years old from Grimsby and has been diagnosed with dyspraxia, global development delay, and Down’s syndrome. He has also secured his first modelling contract with River Island as one of the faces of their new children’s range. He is the eldest of eight children who are representing the brand in the campaign.
Joseph Hale’s agency, Zebedee Management, is an inclusive modelling agency that stresses that their clients ‘can achieve anything they want – they’re amazingly talented and take on any challenge or opportunity they’re offered, but they may need a little extra help from time to time. That’s where our inclusive agency and unique approach make such a big difference.’
The ‘RI Kids’ campaign aims to stress that ‘Each River Island kid is different, but there’s one thing they all want – cool clothes (and a big party).’ The popular high-street retailer is uniting children of all backgrounds through their love of fun and looking cool. Joseph’s parents hope that his monumental inclusion in this River Island campaign will lead the way for more acceptance for people with disabilities, especially children.
Each child is utilised in the campaign to represent a different type of style such as ‘the sassy fashionista’ and ‘the snappy dresser’. Joseph’s style is traditional with a twist: ‘From Batman to Jaffa Cakes, Joseph is a big fan of the classics and this comes through in his style too. Smart with a relaxed feel, he likes to keep things traditional.’
River Island organised a photo shoot with the children and posted it on YouTube. The video has over 155,000 views so far and after The Grimsby Telegraph interviewed Joseph about his new involvement in the River Island campaign, he said that ‘It was nice to show the video to friends at school. People can take selfies with [me]now. River Island made it comfortable for me and I really enjoyed it. I was trying to get everyone to dance to the music. It is good to be able to champion disabilities.’
In the same interview Joseph’s mum, Karen, spoke about his inclusion in the campaign by saying that Joseph’s disability ‘should not define [him]. Joseph is a person. His Down’s is a small part of him. There is a lot more to see than the face value. Yes, he has a physical disability, but people have preconceived ideas – you need to see the person beneath. There is a lot they can teach others about not taking things for granted and judgement. They still have the same thoughts, feelings and dreams.’
Joseph was described as taking to modelling like a duck to water. However, he has said that as much as he enjoys modelling and wants to do more of it, he would like to pursue a career in hairdressing when he grows up.
Josie Cartridge, customer director of River Island, said Joseph had a ‘star presence’ and the company wanted to portray ‘a diverse group of children’.
Ashleigh Skinner, Junior Press Executive at River Island, said that ‘Joseph is a very special and sweet boy.’