Making a stand for dwarfism awareness

Taneya Shannen, Krysten Thompson with her daughter Maggie Allridge, 3, and Baily Connor aged 17 have banded together for Dwarfism Awareness Month.
Taneya Shannen, Krysten Thompson with her daughter Maggie Allridge, 3, and Baily Connor aged 17 have banded together for Dwarfism Awareness Month. Amber Hooker

A WORLD sporting champion, a high-school drummer and a curious three-year-old girl.

Taneya Shannen, Bailey Connor and Maggie Allridge are each as unique as the next, but the trio are bound by one common cause: to raise dwarfism awareness.

All born and raised in Rockhampton, they are determined to educate their local community throughout Dwarfism Awareness Month, held in October.

Taneya said in her eyes, it was simple.

"Everyone should be treated the same, whether they are small, tall, fat or skinny, and not have to worry when we go in public with having people stare and take photos, as we are all the same," she said.

She said although this behaviour was more a reflection on the person, it was often difficult to ignore people who pointed out her appearance, even to the point of taking photos.


But public perceptions have been no barrier for Taneya, who has represented the country at the World Dwarf Games; similar to the Olympics and held every four years.

Although an injury has put her out of the running for next year's games in Canada, the swimmer, track and relay runner will help at the Games.

Bailey had his eyes firmly set on becoming an occupational health and safety officer in the mines.

Completing his final year at The Cathedral College, Bailey said he had mostly experienced acceptance and positivity since he was diagnosed with achondroplasia, more commonly known as dwarfism, at four weeks old.


No stranger to the spotlight, Bailey Connor has backed Dwarfism Awareness Month in TMB back in 2014.
No stranger to the spotlight, Bailey Connor has backed Dwarfism Awareness Month in TMB back in 2014. Amber Hooker

The passionate drummer's outlook for the future was arguably brighter than most.

"But relating it back to dwarfism, growing up in a town like Rockhampton I haven't really dealt with any severe issues.

"The only issues I have really incurred were when I was probably 14-15 and the change between that child-look in the going to adult-look, and I believe that it's where it starts to have more of an impact on someone.

"So you go from someone being less independent to you are out by yourself, and that just gives off to people you are independent, you're alone.

"But life beyond school doesn't scare me in the fact I have to go out there and deal with negative people.

"I look at it as more I am going to go out there and see what the world has to offer and the positives, happy type of thing.

"You don't put barriers in front of yourself to run into; when the barrier comes you just jump over it."


TMB first shared 'Mighty Maggie's' story at 14 months old.
TMB first shared 'Mighty Maggie's' story at 14 months old. Amber Hooker

As Bailey shared his experiences, young Maggie, aged three, sang a tune she had learnt at Skippys in Frenchville daycare centre.

Mother Krysten Thompson said she hoped Maggie would grow up in a world of respect and social awareness.

"I guess she is not going to be a professional basketballer, but no one in the family is," Krysten laughed.

"She is going to do whatever the heck she likes.

"She is a great problem solver already, she is a very good climber, and she is a very good manipulator - she just gets the other kids to carry around the lunch box if it's too heavy at daycare."

Krysten said during Dwarfism Awareness Month, it was easy for the commu- nity to play their part.

"I guess it comes down to social media, people using the photo app on their phone respectfully," she said.

"It's Dwarfism Awareness Month and yes there are a whole heap of issues around dwarfism and the access and that sort of thing, but (it is about) just realising that dwarfism isn't something to be afraid of, that it is out there, that it can happen to anyone."

See awarenessfordwarfism.

Topics:  dwarf dwarfism dwarfism awareness month

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

November will be a big month for NORPA

ARTS: NORPA has added new shows to the Dreamland season from November 23 to December 10.

Peter Garrett, Dreamland and the 2017 Season Launch, among others

Shark victim: "I just want to enjoy being alive today'

A young surfer had a lucky escape after being hit by a shark at Broken Head near Byron Bay. Photo: Twitter - Geoffrey John Knapp.

“I just want to enjoy being alive today.''

Federal grant keeps NORPA telling our local stories

ANNOUNCEMENT: NORPA's Producer Marisa Snow, Artistic Director Julian Louis, General Manager Patrick Healy, Chair David Wolff, with Member for Page Kevin Hogan.

Arts company granted almost $400,00 over two years

Local Partners

Greens fight and fuss but shark nets are coming

MESH nets known to kill dolphins and other non-shark species are almost certain to be rolled out at North Coast beaches.

Barry Gibb is coming to Bluesfest 2017

FANS: Barry Gibb talks to a fan next to a cardboard cutout of his young self.

Aged 70, Gibb has re-launched his solo music career with a new album

Declan Kelly and the Rising Sun to shine bright at festival

Declan Kelly & The Rising Sun is one of the headlining acts at this year's festival.

Main stage set to pump with radiant reggae and dub vibes

Paul Capsis brings the nightlife to Tropical Fruits

LUMINOUS: Paul Capsis created a bespoke performance for NORPA's Generator fundraiser back in 2007.

As part of the Tropical Fruits Festival 2016.

Steve Irwin's final days through dad's eyes

Bob Irwin with his son Steve.

'You never expect that’s the last time you’re going to see your son'

Kristie doesn't mind being the third wheel in Survivor final

Kristie Bennett in a scene from Australian Survivor.

SOLO player will take on Survivor's power couple Lee and El tonight.

Scary hoping Posh and Sporty will re-join The Spice Girls

Mel B

Mel B hoping Victoria Beckham, Mel C will re-join The Spice Girls

REVIEW: Michael McIntyre has Brisbane in stitches

Michael McIntyre in a scene from his TV series Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow.

BRITISH comedian is in the country on his Happy and Glorious Tour.

Cliff Richard doesn't need Rod Stewart's help with legal bills

Sir Cliff Richard

"'Don't worry, I'm loaded. I won't keep you to it.' "

Woolies announces closure of Ipswich store

Woolworths in the Ipswich Mall.Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

The last day of trading will be January 1

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June