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Toddler With Spina Bifida Becomes First Special-Needs Magazine Cover Girl (VIDEO)

by Adriana Velez on February 8, 2013 at 12:53 PM

parents magazineThe 3-year-old girl gracing the cover of Parents magazine this month has such a bright, winning smile, you almost don't notice how she's standing. Behind the fun, frilly pink skirt is a golden walker. Emily Kiecher has spina bifida, a condition that happens in utero where the spine and surrounding tissue and skin do not close up completely. This is the first time the magazine has featured a differently-abled child on its cover.

Emily and her parents are thrilled to have a cover girl in the family. But for Emily's mother, Liz, it's way more than personal. "I hope it starts a discourse for people, and makes them open to seeing images of kids from all walks of life. And I hope that in the future, when I go to the magazine section, I’ll see three or four more magazines featuring kids from all walks of life!" 

Liz says in another interview that when she first started telling people about her baby's diagnosis while she was pregnant, people kept saying, "I'm sorry." But Liz didn't see anything anyone needed to be sorry about. She was having a baby! That was the most important thing. 

And now, she doesn't think of her daughter as Emily-who-has-spina-bifida. She's just Emily. She's the little girl Liz and her husband dearly wished to join their family.

So there's a happy jolt of reality from a special-needs parent. Every child is a human being first, regardless of what shape they come in. Emily has her challenges, but she gives back so much joy, I think her family is incredibly lucky to have her in their family.

Do you think putting a special-needs child on a magazine cover changes the way people see special-needs kids?


Image via Parents

Filed Under: in the news, toddler activities


  • nekoy...


    February 8, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    I think it will and hopefully for the better.  She's a wonderful girl who has a great set of parents.  I wish all of them the best.

  • belon...


    February 8, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    bout time.



    side note I was born with spina bifida.

  • Joo...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Joo Hee Bennett

    February 8, 2013 at 7:28 PM
    what a doll!!! I am in the industry of child models and I wish there were more special needs kids booked for print work.
  • spark...
    -- Nonmember comment from


    February 8, 2013 at 7:37 PM
    What a **Beautiful*** little girl! Kudos to Parents for sharing her with us!
  • LC
    -- Nonmember comment from


    February 8, 2013 at 11:53 PM
    I work with her dad. Proud parents made an amazing little girl. Great to see the publicity for a girl with special needs!
  • Diana
    -- Nonmember comment from


    February 9, 2013 at 1:54 AM
    I don't know if anyone will see them differently. but i am so happy to see her on the cover. she's beautiful. they shouldn't be a difference to begin with. they have kids with different ethnicities. and they're all beautiful. red yellow black white or with walkers. Wish them all the best!!!
  • val
    -- Nonmember comment from


    February 11, 2013 at 7:06 PM
    Its sad it took till 2013 for this. No kids with disabilities should of been discluded for this long. Great to see!
  • Brend...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Brenda Harper

    April 22 at 10:56 AM

    As a mother of a special needs kid, I'm thrilled that this has finally happened.  I hope that in the future they include kids on the cover who may not look as if they have a disability, they may not have a wheelchair or a walker but are still disabled through mental ability.  The little girl on the cover is a doll and I hope she continues to have a lot more successes in life.  WTG!!

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