By Louise Sertsis
I'm just shy of my fortieth birthday and ready to fully engage myself in becoming a contributing member of society. For years, I was a hermit in my home, believing that activities did not include disabled people like myself. I've had Multiple Sclerosis for eighteen years and need to use a wheelchair for mobility. It took many years to accept my situation. I was full of resentment and self-pity. I was unable to look at life as a gift, and in my own stubbornness, chose to shut myself off to society. This only brought more pain and suffering. I was in a vicious circle that just exacerbated my symptoms, adding to my mental anguish and further isolation from the world.
Through my very turbulent symptoms with MS, I've had two major procedures to alter the course of my disease: A bone marrow transplant to halt the progression of MS, and CCSVI that opened narrowed veins that are typical in people with this monster of a disease. I really am thankful to have had these procedures, as I was progressing at an accelerated rate. It was a long recovery, however now I feel reborn and energized for life!
Soul searching and boredom has plagued my life since I've been unable to work due to my illness. It was throughout this time that I was able to realize, I was essentially present in my body, but not truly living. I really wanted and needed a change, even though I knew it would be the most difficult of all challenges to accomplish. I was tired of being at home with no purpose, not even getting out in bed.
I have always loved to travel, and swimming is one of my absolute favorite activities. Since my diagnosis and being in a wheelchair, I have recognized that swimsuits were not created for women with physical challenges. I gave up something I once loved because dressing/undressing was too complicated, especially when the swimsuit was wet. I have weakness in my legs, making it hard to stand up for prolonged periods of time, and an urgent bladder, so going to the bathroom was almost impossible! Swimming used to be carefree and fun, but had turned into inconvenience and fear. I believe that disabled women have been shunned from swimming, solely based on the swimsuit design!
|Designer Marina Pascale with Louise|
Over the past year, I've had the privilege of meeting Marina Pascale of Maison de Pascale, an accomplished swimsuit designer from Toronto, Canada. She agreed with my opinion surrounding the issues with existing swimsuits available today. She was able to incorporate my vision into her proposed designs. This is when Advanced Freedom was born! Our goal is to create swimsuits that are smarter and more accessible for all.
One of our prototype designs is a two-piece that looks like a one-piece with hooks to prevent the suit from riding up and magnetic closures to allow for ease of dressing (although modifications to style will be incorporated based on focus group input and Kickstarter contributors.) The suit will be offered in sizes extra-small (XS) to extra-large (XL). Tops and bottoms will be sold separately to allow selection and fit for different body types and to simplify the shopping process. Designing will take place in Toronto, Ontario and will be manufactured in Canada with designer quality fabric that has a four-way stretch, quick-drying qualities, chlorine resistant colors, and UV protection. The swimsuits will be available to purchase online both in Canada and the U.S.
Through my challenges, I was able to think of this unique, innovative swimsuit for women with varying disabilities. While this idea was initially inspired by my illness, this type of clothing could appeal to all women with or without disabilities, creating less hassle and more freedom. Gone are the days of inaccessible swimsuits and time-consuming havoc for the mobileWOMAN. We can now relax as the frustrating suits of the past will be replaced by the new "one-piece two-piece" designs.
I’d like to reach out to each of you, to share the idea and ask for your opinions. Believe it or not, your opinion is needed to build this next generation of swimwear. Your ideas, suggestions and thoughts will be the guiding force behind the final product design. Become a supporter and get a lifetime loyalty discount for all products that will be developed by Advanced Freedom. The result will be a more comfortable, accessible, convenient suit for you! I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please support our Kickstarter campaign and help us to reach our goal, making Advanced Freedom a reality!