Student, 20, talks about forever being a small fish in a big pond
PUBLISHED: 14:38 23 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:42 23 May 2019
Danielle Webb, a university student from Portishead, was born with Achondroplasia, a condition that restricts the growth of the long bones in her body, resulting in very short limbs.
In September Danielle will enter her third year at The University of South Wales where she is studying for a BA degree in Youth and Community Studies with a Youth Justice Pathway. Her work experience includes working in a nursery and she works as a youth support worker at Portishead Youth Centre. She is part of the dance troupe Audacity, which she loves and she has worked hard with the Little People UK charity to help raise funds for the organisation and awareness of dwarfism in the UK, especially in the South West.
When I read on Danielle's blog that one of the many things dwarfism means to her is "flinching every time you hear the words 'mummy why is she small?' and praying you hear the answer you want" I wondered what answer Danielle would be hoping to hear. To answer that I popped in to the youth centre to ask her.
"If the adults make eye contact with me and smile, we immediately all feel more at ease in this situation" Danielle said. "I am only impacted when the adult looks embarrassed or pulls their child away as though I am contagious. How they reply will depend on a number of things but the kind of reply I hope for is something along the lines of: she's got smaller bones than most people; everyone is different in many ways, this lady is just smaller; some people just don't grow as big as others. That would suffice and hopefully they can follow this up later with the child and explain more if they have a desire to. One thing I feel very strongly about is that the earlier a child is exposed to diversity, the more inclusive and accepting they become and the teaching of non judgmental responses is extremely important."
I was shocked to discover that freak, weirdo and loser are just some the names Danielle is called on a regular basis; in this day and age I thought that kind of behaviour was way behind us.
Danielle added: "It isn't very nice but it depends on what kind of day I've had as to how badly this affects me. It's more often than not teenagers who call me these kinds of names. It's not kind and I hope one day they will feel ashamed of themselves for having such little understanding and making other people's lives a misery. It's so unnecessary.
"As a society we tend to fear the unknown and despite there being an estimated 651,700 people in the world who are affected by a form of dwarfism, it can be seen as just that, the unknown. As a result of this, the world we live in often lacks the education and awareness to accept the differences we bring. Through my journey I hope to give people an insight to the world I live in which, despite being so different in many ways, remains very much the same as everyone else's."