Belfast schoolgirl shares experience of living with dwarfism
A SOUTH Belfast schoolgirl has shared her experiences of living with dwarfism in a bid to teach others about the challenges she faces.
Cara Mailey (11) from Carryduff spoke at a children's story-telling event, which aims to teach young people about diversity.
A pupil at St Joseph's Primary School, Cara was born with achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism.
But she refuses to let her condition define her and has helped raise awareness of the condition when she starred in a kids makeover show, The Dengineers as well as a presenting role on another CBBC programme, Craft Party.
Her mother Tricia said Cara wanted to talk about her experiences of dwarfism to "educate more people" about the condition.
"Cara's message is 'just ask me if you want to know something' and that's what she tells everyone," she said.
It comes just weeks after a nine-year-old Australian boy living with dwarfism captivated people all around the world after his mum posted a heartbreaking video showing the impact of bullying.
Yarraka Bayles shared footage of her son Quaden on social media after picking him up from school in tears, saying he wanted "to die" because of the way he is treated at school.
On Saturday, Cara was the guest speaker at the 'Still I Rise Story Telling' event on the Lisburn Road in Belfast.
Organised by Orla McKeating, it involves reading books together to celebrate "diversity, tolerance, acceptance and encouraging our open minds and hearts to create a more loving world".
"The story-telling is all about diversity," said Tricia.
"Orla's aim is to teach other children about it and read books about other children's backgrounds.
"Cara read the book, Strong and Mighty Max, which is written for kids to explain about having shorter limbs.
"Then afterwards she was interviewed and took questions about diversity, although it was quite funny as a lot of the kids wanted to ask her about being in the Dengineers.
"She took questions from the adults too, she just wants to spread the message that we all need to talk about it more. Cara is going to go back and speak every three weeks, which is great so she can spread the message."
Ms Mailey said the footage of the Australian boy had heightened attention around achondroplasia.
"We thought it was timely that Cara was speaking at the event after what happened to the boy," she said.
"It's one of those disabilities that people still find it hard to talk about, yet 1 in 25,000 across the world have it.
"Cara knows people are going to look at her and say things, it's going to happen.
"But what we want is to educate more people about how to treat the situation."