Penn-Mar Human Services’ Disability-Inclusive Fashion Show Returns - Penn-Mar

Penn-Mar Human Services’ Disability-Inclusive Fashion Show Returns

Posted on March 13, 2024

- Partnership with Jemicy School Continues, Presenting Clothing Designed Specifically for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities -

March 13, 2024

Baltimore – Penn-Mar Human Services, the region’s leading provider of services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), is proud to present the return of the Jemicy x Penn-Mar inclusive fashion show. The annual event features 17 people supported by Penn-Mar who will model original clothing designs created by students from Jemicy School, a Maryland-based independent school that educates students ages 5-18 with dyslexia or related language-based learning differences.

The show will take place on March 22, 2024 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., with the runway portion starting at 5:40 p.m. at the Jemicy School, located at 11202 Garrison Forest Road in Owings Mills. Though the event is closed to the public, it will be livestreamed on Penn-Mar’s Facebook page, and members of the press are encouraged to attend. The press can also arrange to attend a dress rehearsal at Jemicy on March 20 at 10 a.m. with the runway portion taking place at 11 a.m.

As with the inaugural event in 2023, Jemicy students have crafted original clothing articles tailored to the specific needs of Penn-Mar models, ensuring ease of wear and comfort. Designs feature slip-on styles, stretchy materials, and accessible closures like large zippers, magnets, or ties. At the show, the models will walk the runway, showcasing the inclusive nature of fashion through Jemicy student designs that are both functional and of course, fashionable.

Penn-Mar CEO Greg Miller says the original event was such a hit that it was especially thrilling the show returned this year.

“The excitement we saw from the models last year, and the relationships they created with the designers, made it one of the most rewarding events we’ve done,” adds Miller. “Penn-Mar’s mission revolves around prioritizing inclusion for the IDD community, and fashion should be no exception. This event empowers the people we support to celebrate their identities with clothing designed to accommodate and celebrate their uniqueness, rather than conforming to industry standards.”

The idea behind the fashion show began five years ago when Jennifer Hisey, Penn-Mar’s community supports day program manager, discussed a fashion show with people who attend Penn-Mar’s day learning center. While they loved the idea, the pandemic soon halted any plans.

But in April 2022, Tina Chan Sweenie, Penn-Mar’s associate director of development, attended a fashion show at Jemicy where her daughter, Leila, showcased her work as a featured student designer. Recognizing a shared interest in hosting a fashion event at Penn-Mar, Chan Sweenie and her daughter collaborated with Hisey to propose a joint effort between Jemicy and Penn-Mar.

The Penn-Mar team contacted Leila’s teacher Pauline Savage, Jemicy’s college counselor for the arts and chair of Jemicy’s US visual arts department. Upon hearing the proposal, Pauline recognized the opportunity for her fashion students to showcase their talent and creativity, and the show was off and running.

“My students are brilliant visual spatial thinkers, ingenious when it comes to problem solving,” says Pauline. “They have a talent for making unusual connections that allow them to see opportunities that many people cannot, and they shine brightest when engaged in real-world design opportunities.”

For more than 50 years, Jemicy has dedicated itself to educating children with dyslexia and related language-based learning differences while celebrating neurodiversity. Jemicy students embrace unique learning approaches tailored to their individuality, similar to the way individuals with IDD must navigate daily life. And like Jemicy, Penn-Mar empowers individuals to pursue personal goals and thrive in a world often lacking inclusivity that speaks to their needs.

The press is encouraged to attend but must RSVP by contacting Roger Mecca: Photos and video of the event will also be made available.

About Penn-Mar Human Services

Penn-Mar Human Services is a nonprofit that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to Live Courageously, whether that’s securing a job, being an active member of their community, building independence, or developing new relationships.​ Penn-Mar accomplishes this by supporting people on their own unique personal journeys. Founded in 1981, Penn-Mar operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,​​ in northern Maryland and southern Pennsylvania. They support 400+ adults with disabilities daily through an array of customizable services.


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