By Danny Baggott @dan_baggie
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Videographer / director: Marcus Cooper
Producer: Danny Baggott, Dav Rich, Ruby Coote
Editor: Helen Mckee
Monique ‘Dior’ Jarrett was born with a severe form of osteogenesis imperfecta type III – more commonly referred to as ‘brittle bone disease’ – a rare genetic disorder characterised by increased bone fragility and susceptibility to bone fractures.
Monique, from Manchester, UK, has lost count of how many bones she has broken in her life and each morning she wakes up, she has to conduct a ‘bone-check’ to make sure she hasn’t broken anything new whilst sleeping.
Due to her positive attitude, Monique’s condition has never stopped her from living life to the full – and being active.
She has become a wheelchair dance champion with a collection of medals and has modelled in photoshoots for the likes of Grazia magazine.
Monique told Barcroft TV: “My bones can break with the slightest touch, bump, cough or sneeze.
“I have to do a bit of a spot check every time I wake up, to make sure I’ve not broken a rib, or worse, a leg! It happens.
“I’ve got very laxed limbs, so picking things up or holding things is sometimes difficult too. My organs are sort of squashed together, I’m quite a small package.
“It’s really important for me to stay active.
“Nobody else I know around me just sits about and does nothing. So whether I have a condition or not, I’ve always wanted to do what I want – even with the risk of breaking or dislocating something.”
Thankfully, Monique didn’t experience much bullying in her school years.
But she admits it was hard to see other children playing and doing as they pleased with no consequence.
“I wanted to ride a bike, I wanted to trampoline,” she said.
“I wanted to do all of those ‘normal’ things, but couldn’t without consequence.
“Everyone was so gentle with me in school. And my mom was my rock through it all, thankfully.”
As Monique became more experienced living with her condition, she started to become more active.
And just four years ago, she began her wheelchair dance journey.
She said: “I always wanted to do some sort of exercise, but not the gym.
“It was about building my strength, mainly.
“I’ve felt so many benefits over the last couple of years since taking it [wheelchair dance] up.
“I’ve won a handful of trophies in competitions now, too. It shows that all my hard work has paid off.
“I’d say the most dangerous thing for me is crashing, but if you’ve got a good partner like I have, you should be fine.”
Monique takes lessons every Saturday with her full time partner, Caitlyn McNiven, and they enter competitions together two or three times a year.
Caitlyn said: “Me and Monique are much more than just dance partners now, we’re really close friends.
“I think Monique is really inspirational.
“Just the thought that doing any dance move could break one of her bones - it takes so much courage.
“I find it remarkable what she’s achieving.”
Monique has also pursued modelling in her spare time, notably featuring on the cover of Grazia magazine.
She said: “Modelling has definitely helped to improve my confidence.
“I do a lot of campaigns for body positivity.
“My biggest photoshoot was for the front cover of Grazia magazine – that was just amazing. I don’t know how that happened, I still don’t!
“It all makes me feel empowered.”
Monique is continuing to build her social presence, raising awareness of body positivity and how you can achieve anything in life with hard work and a good attitude.
She added: “My advice to others would be, if you really want to do something, work hard for it.
“I’m hoping that I can help more people by telling my story, that’s all I want to do.”