Profile: Blind model helps disabled students gain confidence on the catwalk

Source: Xinhua| 2021-10-16 10:05:36|Editor: huaxia

SHENYANG, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- In a small classroom in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, a group of young models practices for a catwalk show, with an aura of joy and confidence.

They are "special" children who bear different kinds of diseases, such as cerebral palsy, down's syndrome and autism, and the teacher Wang Leilei, standing by their side, is nearly blind.

Wang lost her eyesight when she was 25 years old, which gave a heavy blow to her emerging career as a professional model and forced her to leave her beloved catwalk stage.

"For a long time, my life was completely dark. It was my husband and child that pulled me out of the hopeless state," said Wang.

Although she cannot walk the stage ever again, she started a new chapter in life by running an online shop, attending TV shows and taking in performances at Beijing Film Academy.

As Wang regained hope, she also noticed that others who are physically handicapped like her still lead meaningful lives.

During an event caring for disabled children in May 2020, she was deeply moved by these children who had the same desire for art as her and were eager to have a spotlight shone on them on the stage.

"They reminded me of who I used to be," said Wang.

Due to their physical conditions, it is difficult for these children to find a suitable training program. So, Wang decided to provide a charity training class for these disabled children to teach them catwalk performance and gain confidence.

She opened an online course right after that activity, teaching six or seven students for free. Then, she rented a classroom and set an offline teaching schedule in September, only charging every student 30 yuan (about 4.66 U.S. dollars) each class to cover rent and electricity bills. Now, the number of students has increased to 30.

Although Wang has rich performing experience, teaching disabled children is no easy task.

The biggest difficulty is not her vulnerable eyesight. "The most difficult thing is communicating with these children," said Wang, since these children were not accustomed to being around many people outside their small circle or family, they often showed reluctance and resistance to her.

While Wang was guiding an autistic student, the student had a strong reaction and grabbed her arm very hard. She used her arm to gently pat the child's shoulder, stroked his face, and said "you just did very good. Let's keep it up." Then, the child calmed down and relaxed his grip.

Wang uses interaction with the students to help relieve their psychological resistance.

"During the class break, I often hug them to get familiar with their voice and bodies. Now, I can recognize every one by touching them and hearing their voices," said Wang.

Just as Wang hoped, these children have not only gained artistic training but also become more confident. Han Han, a 14-year-old child with Down's syndrome, said the modeling class is the happiest thing in his life.

"He used to be very introverted and was not good at conveying himself. Now, he has turned more outgoing and is willing to hang out with other children. He even joined the soccer team at school," said Han Han's grandmother.

Since Wang started the training class, her students have performed many fashion shows. Thinking of this, Wang could not hide her excitement and burst into tears.

"Although I cannot see the world anymore, I hope to become a beam of light to more disabled children," said Wang. Enditem

KEY WORDS: China,Catwalk training,Blind model