Health group Short Statured People of Australia is using Dwarfism Awareness Month in October to call on the public to accept more people living with the medical condition of dwarfism.
"Generally, there is insufficient knowledge about dwarfism," it wrote in a blog post. "This lack of knowledge has driven speculation and superstition about dwarfism enabling discrimination."
The non-profit organisation is providing wristbands that say "Standing Tall for Dwarfism Awareness" and asks public schools and work places to hold a casual-clothes day or BBQ to raise awareness and help break the mindset.
The initiative comes after 4-year-old Murri boy Quaden Bayles, who lives with a form of dwarfism known as achondroplasia, was subjected to cyber bullying in late August.
Quaden's mother Yarraka Bayles posted a video of her son playing with his reflection in a mirror to Facebook only to receive hurtful comments such “…that’s one ugly kid” about her son and his condition from the public.
"I would love them to come and spend the day with us, I invite them. He’ll change your mind the first minute you meet him," she told media in reaction to the discrimination.
This year has been especially challenging for Quaden and his mother Yarraka after he underwent high-risk surgery, documented by NITV's Living Black.
Quaden had been losing the use of his arms and legs because his brain was beginning to pinch the top of his spine, a result of his medical condition.
If surgery was successful, his limbs would be saved, but his family needed to be prepared for the worst.
The wait as he was operated on was excruciating.
But the outcome was everything that his loved ones could have hoped for. He survived and was given the gift of movement of his arms and legs.
Key facts about dwarfism
- It is estimated that there are around 650,000 people who live with dwarfism.
- Dwarfism affects the ability to convert cartilage into bone, a crucial part of development in a child.
- There are more than 200 types of dwarfism.
2nd Annual Dwarfism Awareness Gala Ball at the Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort on Saturday October 10 from 7pm.
Watch the NITV Living Black episode about Quaden Bayles