Teen with Down syndrome determined to model
MADELINE Stuart is taking the world by storm.
The 18-year-old from Mount Crosby is an aspiring model, aiming to change society's perception of Down syndrome.
Her Facebook page, Madeline getting Downs to modelling, has gone viral world-wide, gaining 325,000 likes in a little more than two weeks.
Madeline's mother, Rosanne Stuart, helped create the Facebook page and said she was proud her daughter had inspired so many people across the globe.
"I think it is time people realised that people with Down syndrome can be sexy and beautiful and should be celebrated," she said.
"They can do anything, they just do it at their own pace, give them a chance and you will be rewarded beyond your greatest expectations."
Her mother said although perceptions had changed since Madeline was born, there was still a lot people had to learn.
"I remember having her in a (stroller) when she was a baby and small-minded people telling me she should not be out in public, even her doctors said Madeline would never achieve anything," Ms Stuart said.
"But things are changing every day and people are more accepting of what they don't understand yet.
"Madeline really wants to change the way people discriminate against disability.
"She wants people to know that Down syndrome is a blessing, something to be celebrated."
Ms Stuart said Madeline had always loved being in front of the camera, with a recent 20kg weight loss inspiring her to take up modelling.
"As with many people with Down syndrome, she struggled with her weight for a long time," she said.
"She wanted to get better at her dancing, gymnastics, cheerleading and sports so she cut out junk food and took up swimming four to five days a week."
The teen keeps a busy schedule, also competing in cricket and basketball with the Special Olympics.
Her mother said the pair never expected Madeline's story to generate news coverage world-wide.
"Maddy is so confident," she said.
"I won Lotto the day she was born.
"People need to see how she shines, how her personality just bursts out.
"She will win millions of hearts if she gets the chance and she will teach people what is really important."
Madeline is currently looking for an agent and is open to contract offers.
See more of her work at facebook.com/madelinesmodelling