Students at the International Brain Institute (iBRAIN), a college with a flagship campus on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and a new location in Sunset Park, kicked off New York Fashion Week last week with the iCAN Do Anything fashion show. Take it to the runway with a design made for each student.
“The idea generally came from the collective mindset of our staff, families and children. We don’t set limits, kids can and can’t,” said Patrick Donahue, founder of iBRAIN. “Being in New York, the epicenter of fashion, introducing the kids and helping them become supermodels for the day seemed like a natural next step.”
Donahue established iBRAIN’s first location on the Upper West Side in 2013. It’s been nine years since her daughter Sarah, now 17, was shaken by nurses at her Hill hospital in Lennox just days after her birth, causing severe damage to her brain. The Sunset Park campus opened last spring. The school offers small classes, one-on-one support and educational planning, and numerous support services and therapies for students and their families.
The school partnered with local fashion designer Jeffrey Ampratwum, whose team worked with individual students to create clothes that fit their individual tastes and needs. Many iBRAIN modeled students use mobility devices or other assistive technologies and need clothing that works. Not against it, but with their craft. Accompanied by friends, family, or volunteer professional models, students ran down the runway in brightly colored dresses, patterned vests, and classic college-style jackets.
Donahue said it was a “magic night”.
“To see the pride in the children as some strutted down the runway, some sat in chairs and were ushered down the runway…the smiles and pride they had and the pride their families had. The pride, and the audience, it’s just a magical night,” he said.
The September 8th show was iBRAIN’s first foray into the fashion world, but certainly not their last.
“We plan to make this an annual event. Our plan next year is to work with and partner with all the different fashion houses in the New York area so they can work with each student themselves.” Donahue said, “One student might have a Ralph Lauren outfit designed by the fashion house, another might have Perry Ellis, Nicole Miller, and so on.” I can’t.”
A cocktail hour and silent auction followed the fashion show, raising nearly $100,000 for the school and its new project iBRAIN Fashion Lab. According to Donahue, the lab has its eyes set on next year’s fashion show, and is “working with a range of manufacturers and designers to help design clothing that is more accessible to very unique people. We are looking to change the entire industry.Individuals.
According to Donahue, some iBRAIN students use G-tubes, wear braces on their feet and legs, or find it difficult to work with regular buttons and other fasteners. Some people have problems with motor skills. Most clothing brands don’t incorporate these needs into their designs.
“There are already many out there, but our goal is to build [the lab] We’re changing to more accessible clothes and showing that accessible clothes are actually accessible,” Donoghue said.
The Fashion Lab is the latest addition to iBRAIN’s comprehensive program. Donahue said each student works closely with a paraprofessional and receives a variety of treatments depending on their needs. Extending the number of school days and grades provides approximately $200,000 worth of services each year, none of which the iBRAIN family has paid.
Professional education and programs are often costly and out of reach for students who need them, Donahue said, and parents are suing city departments of education to accuse public schools of not being good enough for their children. must prove Department store. To help with that, he founded a non-profit law firm that handles each iBRAIN student’s case pro bono.
“The only out-of-pocket cost to enroll in our program is a refundable $100 deposit,” says Donahue. “Then we suspend all payments while our lawyers do their work. I shouldn’t give it.”
It’s an imperfect system, but the reality is that asking an already struggling public school to accept students with such specific needs isn’t fair, and it’s not fair to the students, Donahue said. Told.
“For our children, especially those that we currently serve with severe disabilities … the greatest rehabilitation system for children is not really the health care system, but actually the “It’s the school system,” he said. But then they go back to the community and basically back to the school system.”
The new location at Sunset Park had a “quick launch” in the spring to “fix the problem,” Donahue said, but enrollment is now open and students will only be able to attend at the beginning of the school year. can be started at any time. He emphasized that Brooklyn families interested in the school can evaluate their child for free to determine if iBRAIN is right for them.
“Not only is there no cost to participate, but there is no cost to assess whether it is suitable,” he said. “We recommend visiting the website or calling to book reservations and tours.”