The Student Empowerment Network, a club in the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions at Creighton, held their second annual Rise Up Runway, a fashion show open to individuals of all ages and abilities, on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Scoular Ballroom.
Approximately 237 members of the Omaha community were in attendance, and there were around 55 individuals participating in the event with ages ranging from three years old to 37. Over 50 occupational therapy, physical therapy and pharmacy students volunteered to help run the show.
Participants of Rise Up Runway got the opportunity to walk down the runway sporting outfits of their choice and pose for pictures while accompanied by the Creighton student volunteers. Following the fashion show, there was an instrumental performance from the Special Musicians, a group associated with the Special Olympics, and a social hour.
The purpose of the event is to advocate and empower individuals of all abilities and provide an outlet for them to express themselves.
Using money raised through fundraising and grants, the Student Empowerment Network reimburses the participants for their outfits and offers hair styling and makeup services if participants should want it.
According to Julia Neppel, a second-year occupational therapist student in the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions and one of the event’s co-organizers, the students had been planning Rise Up Runway since last May.
“As future occupational therapists, we’re very inspired and motivated to empower individuals of all abilities,” Neppel said. “We really feel like it’s this population that needs more attention and advocacy.”
Ellie Goerdt, another a second-year occupational therapist student in the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions and one of the event’s co-organizers, said that this event achieved the main goal of their organization, which is “to provide an education for the greater community about those who live with disability within the Omaha and Nebraska community.”
“We want to provide events as a way for individuals of all abilities to engage in events that aren’t usually available to them,” said Goerdt. “Something like a fashion show isn’t usually available for someone with a unique ability.”
Neppel and Goerdt both said they loved witnessing the participants being celebrated.
“My favorite part is watching the reaction on the parents’ and community members’ faces,” Neppel said.
“We wanted them to be able to express themselves in the way that they felt was unique to them and what made them feel comfortable,” Goerdt said.