Vania Aguiar has built an impressive career in the domain of fashion and beauty. She was an international model for many years, the managing editor of the magazine Pure for 6 years, the director of fashion and beauty for Elle Québec Girls for 5 years, and since 2013, Executive Director and Editor of the blog Vania, a web experience for trendy fashionistas.
Beyond the woman of fashion and beauty that we know, Vânia Aguiar is above all a woman with heart. She is the mother of a son with an intellectual disability who has dedicated more than 20 years of her life to making a difference in society by advocating for the social participation of young people living with an intellectual disability.
It was while trying to seek help for her child that she became aware of the lack of available resources, and in 2001 she decided to set up the Fondation les Petits Rois. Its mission is to facilitate the education and development of children between the ages of 4 and 21 living with a moderate to severe intellectual disability with or without associated disorders and autism.
For the past eighteen years, this organization has been meeting the needs of families who have a child with a developmental disability or an ASD. And Vânia is not about to slow down her efforts to create a more inclusive community. Some of her achievements to this end include convincing the government to build École Irénée-Lussier in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, a new school for young people with intellectual disabilities and autism, and creating innovative partnerships with businesses to set up work platforms to promote the integration of these young people into the job market and develop their socio-professional skills
She is also constantly raising awareness among government entities, businesses and her vast network in order to combine their knowledge, strengths and financial means for the benefit of young people with disabilities. Throughout the last two decades, her tireless commitment has ensured the feasibility of exceptionally innovative and forward looking projects and has enabled young disabled people to prove that they are capable of contributing to Québec society. She believes deeply in their potential and looks to their future, her head brimming with inventiveness and her heart full of hope. The tenacious Ms. Aguiar is the chief instigator behind a project to create a “smart home” that will put cutting-edge technology at the service of people with disabilities. This project will see the light of day in 2020.
Each one of Vânia Aguiar’s achievements improves the lives of these young people in a very real way. Her involvement with public elementary and secondary schools has had a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of young disabled Quebecers, by multiplying the tools and experiences that help them flourish. The benefits are impressive for these young people, whose abilities are stimulated thereby increasing their self-worth and happiness, as well as for their families, who draw strength from them as they persevere in their quest for a decent present and future for their different children. On a larger scale, so too are the benefits for society, which thus becomes more inclusive. Well-rounded children, parents supported in their efforts to help them, and institutions motivated to show ever greater understanding and generosity are the direct results of Vânia Aguiar’s endeavours.
With this kind of commitment and a vision that inspires, through her determination to see things change combined with her quiet strength, concrete advances can only continue to multiply for young Quebecers with disabilities.