Dwarfism no small issue

Sharlene Hendricks and Toni-Shae Panton

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

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LAST Tuesday, on episode five of Talk Up Yout, the discussion was on Dwarfism.

Dwarfism is an uncommon condition characterised by a human being having a short stature. Dwarfism can be caused by over 300 other conditions and can come with many medical complications, one of which is scoliosis — a curving of the spine.

Host Emprezz spoke to 17-year-old, sixth form student of the Glenmiur High School, Ranay, about her condition and how she has been dealing with her challenges.

As with most cases of dwarfism, Renay, who was born to a father of regular height and a mother who is a dwarf, has a genetic condition.

Renay explained that until she entered primary school and her parents noticed that she was not growing at the same rate as her peers, she seemed to be a regular child. She said that she constantly faced discrimination with insensitive, negative attitudes of her peers and other persons.

Despite the name-calling, however, Ranay was able to make friends and get along with her peers.

"I was never bullied at school. Maybe it's because of my personality, I was a little soldier," Ranay said.

Outside of her peers, Renay also spoke about the unbearable pain she faced as a young child because of her condition. At age nine, she had to undergo scholiosis and knee surgery; and because of this, she was often unable to participate in school trips and other events.

Like Renay, many dwarfs face daily discrimination, leaving some feeling as if they are less of a person. Despite all her challenges though, Ranay has developed confidence, resilience and self-appreciation; and she accredits her positive attitude to her mother and her friends who have supported her.

Her mother having first-hand knowledge of what her daughter went and is still going through, stressed that dwarfs can still do everything that regular people can do, and that they still have the capabilities of regular people.

Clinical psychologist Dr Tammy Haynes stated that many Jamaicans are still involved in discrimination against who many call 'little people,' and stressed that this is definitely something that needs to change. She pointed to the fact that most people want to be 'normal,' but that persons who have accomplished great things are those who dared to be different. She mentioned the importance of having resilience and self-appreciation when living with dwarfism and praised Ranay for her positive attitude.

When discussing other challenges faced by dwarfs in Jamaica, Renay stated that there is a lack of support from organisations geared at helping dwarfs. But Renay will not allow that to hold her back. She is now shattering the barriers of many, who think that dwarfs are not as intellectually capable as other people. She dreams of becoming a paediatrician and plans to one day start her own organisation to support dwarfs.




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