By Danny Baggott @Dan_Baggie

A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD girl born with Down Syndrome is building a successful child modelling career

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Videographer / director: Marcus Hessenberg, Scott Dulson
Producer: Danny Baggott, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal

Grace Isabella Wharton from Cheshire, UK, signed with an agency last year and has already worked a number of jobs for the likes of Disney and CBeebies.

The buoyant schoolgirl also starred in a diversity campaign called, ‘Behind the Scars’, and has amassed more than 1,000 followers on Instagram.

And despite being born with Down Syndrome, a condition that significantly affects the fundamental aspects of one’s life, Grace is determined to not let it define her with the help of her parents, Cheryl and John Wharton.

Cheryl, 48, told Barcroft TV: “Grace absolutely loves being in front of the camera.

“Everyone has always said she’s really cute and she loves posing, she loves showing off her catwalk modelling. She absolutely loves the attention.

“Grace is definitely one in a million.”

Cheryl was devastated when she first discovered that her unborn baby was going to have Down Syndrome - but abortion was never an option for her and her husband John, 47.

She said: “Of course, I was devastated at first.

“There’s such a lot of negativity surrounding Down Syndrome. I cried for 24 hours.

“But we got up the next morning and said no matter what, this is our baby.

“And from that point on, we have just celebrated everything about her. She is incredible.”

And six years later, Grace’s confidence reached a new level that Cheryl never thought was possible.

Cheryl recognised Grace’s desire for attention and her love of being in front of the camera.

“We saw an advertisement on Facebook asking for a model with a disability,” Cheryl continued.

“We thought, why not? And a couple of weeks later we were invited to Grace’s first official photo-shoot.

“She walked into the room and twerked in front of everyone. It was hilarious.

“Grace was then signed up within a very short space of time. Disney showed interest in her and she’s done work with them, CBeebies and the BBC since.

“She’s been really busy.”

Grace is now represented by Zebedee Management, a company that celebrates models with diversity.

Co-founder, Laura Johnson, set up the business with her sister-in-law, Zoe Proctor, and they have started to make a real impact on the lives of people like Grace around the UK.

Laura said: “We felt that there weren’t enough opportunities for people with disabilities within fashion, advertising, TV and film and we really wanted to see a change.

“It’s been a whirlwind since we first set it up about a year ago. We’ve got over 300 models working with us now and it’s going really well.

“Straight away we knew that Grace was going to be amazing in her role. She is such a gorgeous little thing, so smiley and full of confidence.

“She is definitely one of our success stories.”

Grace is also performing really well in her school life and has become one of the most popular members in her class.

And Grace’s teacher, Charlotte Williams, recognised her potential and ability to learn straight away.

Charlotte said: “I am very lucky because I have had Grace in my class for two years now.

“She astounds me on a day-to-day basis. She is a bundle of energy and is fiercely independent.

“Grace is probably the most popular member of her class – everybody wants to be her friend.”

Grace still has her struggles from day to day, for example, with her speech and communication.

Cheryl said: “Grace has been through a lot since she was born.

“She has had some major surgeries, but she’s never been really ill.

“I would say Grace’s biggest struggle is probably her speech. People with Down Syndrome have low muscle tone, which also affects the muscles in their mouths.

“Grace is talking, which we are thrilled about. Sometimes she is hard to understand, but she gets there in the end.

“And hopefully her speech continues to improve.”

Grace, Cheryl and the family are now looking to raise awareness for other families who have been affected by Down Syndrome – and to show them that anything is possible.

“It is very important for us to get the message across that she is just a little girl who happens to have Down Syndrome,” Cheryl said.

“It’s no big deal, she is a feisty little girl and will always just be our daughter.

“Society is changing a lot now – and for the better. Hopefully people like Grace are changing people’s perspectives.

“She continues to defy everyone whoever told her she couldn’t do anything.”

Grace’s father, John, added: “She’s always come through everything that she was faced with. She’s our little fighter.”