An aspiring model from Cookstown who has Down’s Syndrome is calling for people with disabilities to be given a chance.
Nineteen-year-old Kate Grant is fed up with the barriers that keep being put in front of her as she tries to pursue a catwalk career.
Tired of society looking down on people with disabilities, Kate recently teamed up with Fixers - the campaign to give young people a voice - to show everyone she is just as capable as anybody else.
She has worked with Fixers to make a short film, in which she describes her dream to become a model and explains that her disability should not hold her back.
“It is my dream to be a model,” Kate said. “I want to encourage people who have disabilities and tell everyone else to give them a chance.”
The fashion-conscious teenager has wanted to be a model for years after watching her mum Deirdre in a local fashion show.
She went on to appear at Belfast Fashion Week and has taken part in beauty pageants, but now feels people are not taking her seriously because of her disability.
“I have hopes and dreams just like everyone else and I am following them to the best of my abilities,” she continued.
“I am doing this for the rest of my friends with disabilities that are not able or capable of fulfilling their dreams.”
Deirdre wants people to understand that just because Kate has Down’s Syndrome it doesn’t mean she doesn’t have aspirations, hopes and dreams just like everyone else.
“There are still people who think she is incapable of answering a question,” Deirdre said.
“But from a very young age Kate has been able to express herself, we have brought her up to be independent. She has a great use of vocabulary and she knows what context to put words in.
“She would like to be normal, but what is normal?”
Deirdre explained that since last year’s Belfast Fashion Week work has dried up.
“I would send off pictures but nothing would come forward. It is so frustrating for her. I would say this is for a few reasons and one of them could be her Down’s Syndrome.
“Every one of our children, regardless of ability, if they are so passionate about doing something you have to be one hundred per cent supportive.
“I am very proud of Kate. If there is breath in me I am going to try and make this happen for her.”
Kate’s campaign is being supported by Mary McCann, operations manager at Ulster Supported Employment and Learning (USEL).
“In general in Northern Ireland I think we’re becoming better, we’re becoming more aware. We have some phenomenal employers who are real champions for ability,” Mary said.
“I’d like to see all employers really actively look to employ and recruit people with disabilities and health conditions so that they can be reflective of who it is that’s in the labour market.
“Kate’s campaign is amazing. She has really empowered so many young people to get to where they need to be and to follow their dreams. We need more people to follow in her footsteps and really trail blaze.”
Fixers works with young people aged 16-25 across the UK by providing them with professional resources to help them campaign on issues they feel strongly about.
The charity has helped more than 21,000 youngsters across the UK to have a voice in their community on issues such as cyber-bullying, self-harm, suicide or transphobia.
For more information, or to make a donation to fund more Fixers projects, log on to www.fixers.org.uk