By Joe Roberts @jrobertsjourno
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Videographer / Director: John-Paul Steele
Producer: Joe Roberts, Ruby Coote
Editor: Josh Halil
22-year-old Jasmine Manuel has Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type 3 – a severe form of the brittle bone disorder that leaves Jasmine’s bones highly susceptible to fractures, and causes her to be much shorter than average.
Aside from the short stature and fragile bones, the condition also causes severe scoliosis, and Jasmine has to use a power chair to get around.
But the Kennesaw State University student, who also produces music under the pseudonym ‘Mini Producer’, hasn’t let that stop her from becoming a fitness fanatic and advocate for disabled fitness.
Jasmine told Barcroft Media: “I like working out because it’s proving that I can do it. A lot of doctors have said different things about what I was going to be capable of, and every day I am just proving that I got this. I can do whatever.
“I don’t have time to pity myself because there is nothing to feel sorry for, this is what it is… I don’t really have a choice but to be positive and live my life.”
Jasmine says she has broken anywhere between 100 and 200 bones in her lifetime, and has undergone 22 surgeries.
These setbacks have not slowed her down, as proven by her decision to take on YouTube Fitness guru Shaun T’s Insanity Max 30 workout regimen.
The programme sees Jasmine doing push-ups, crunches, and often using the gym equipment on her university campus.
She continued: “I have been able to make Insanity Max 30 work for me just by winging it, because, it is super high intensity so you kind of have to think quick.
“I just wanted to see if I could do it honestly. I was like, ‘Man, this is kind of crazy, this could not work out or every bone in my body is going to break.’
“But the fact that I could do it, was like, “Hey man I am about to hit up Shaun T.”
The young entrepreneurship student has lived on campus for four years, and started a social media campaign called “Rollout Fitness” to promote fitness for disabled people.
Through the Rollout Fitness Instagram page she spreads a message of remaining determined and defying the odds when it comes to staying fit.
Jasmine has even started training another woman who is also in a chair, which she says gives her a great sense of pride.
“Fitness for people that have disabilities is important to me because it’s really just about showing you can do it,” she explained.
“There are a lot of pre-conceived ideas about what people with disabilities in society can do, and I think it is so cool to have that opportunity to show people who may have the same condition or other conditions, that it is possible and really changing that mindset.”
It’s an impressive mindset for someone who has struggled with chronic pain for her entire life, and demonstrates Jasmine’s natural resilience and ambition.
“The worst effect that OI has caused, is believe it or not, the chronic pain.” She added. “Breaking bones is a lot easier, because it eventually heals but with chronic pain that never goes away, that’s an everyday thing.”
Her mother, Wanda Manuel, says her daughter has always had a determined spirit, and recalls the challenges Jasmine faced literally from the moment she was born.
“When Jasmine was born she had six broken bones,” she explained. “So you are talking about both arms, collar bone and three ribs, so that’s how her early life started.
“And then after five months, she probably broke something every month… and when Jasmine was about two years old she had all four leg bones rodded, which means that she had small metal rods that were inserted into all four leg bones.
“Jasmine has always been very strong willed. So just her personality and desire to keep going made it easier.”
Jasmine’s condition has caused some particularly difficult moments, including a nine-hour surgery to correct a spinal fusion that occurred as she was entering her freshman year of high school.
Wanda remembers these times vividly, and naturally worries about her daughter’s ambitious fitness goals, but says she has learned to let Jasmine do what she needs to do.
“I have had to learn to let go,” she said. “I can’t bubble wrap her, I can’t protect her, she is a grown woman and she has got to live her life.”
Aside from training, Jasmine has big ambitions to become a successful music producer, and has recently become signed to an independent label called Starkast Nation.
She is due to graduate in July this year, and says she wants to make music professionally in the future.
“I enjoy making music because that is my escape,” she said. “I always say that music is like my sports because I put just as much time into it as if I was playing basketball, or some sport,
“I break easily, that’s what it is. But music, I have a say in that and creative control.”
At just 22, Jasmine has already accomplished so much, but there will likely be lots more to come from someone whose personal philosophy of ‘no excuses’ has already taken her so far.
She said: “The motto that I would say I live by is, ‘No excuses,’ because I think it is very easy to make an excuse and from what people have told me, they said it would be very easy for me to make excuses for myself.”