Mom And Dad & Brother Bad Attitute For Other Peoples

(muhammad sameer saeed, rawalpindi)

Life is too short to spend your precious time trying to convince a person who wants to live in gloom and doom otherwise. Give lifting that person your best shot, but don't hang around long enough for his or her bad attitude to pull you down. Instead, surround yourself with I have dreamt a lifetime to get on this flight to New York. I don't care if it's summer. Leather, high heels, and a bad attitude. Here I comeTurning 16 can be tough for any teenager – it’s a journey fraught with excitement, issues and anxieties.

But Stockport-raised Jasmine Burkitt decided to mark her coming of age by embarking on a search around Greater Manchester for the father she has never known.

The emotional quest forms the main storyline of a touching BBC3 documentary to be screened tonight, which reveals Jasmine – or Jazz as she likes to be known – to be a young woman mature beyond her years.

Jazz has been a registered carer since the age of 13 for her mum,

Beverley, who suffers from breathing difficulties. But this typical teenager, who loves shopping and hanging out with her best friend, Naomi, has also seen the ugly side of human nature at a tender age.

At 3ft 8ins, Jazz is the height of an average eight-year-old, and just one inch taller than her 47-year-old mother, sharing with her a rare and unidentified form of dwarfism.

The documentary shows the issues Jazz and Beverley face on a daily basis, such as standing on stools to access kitchen counters.

But emotionally, Jazz is a big girl, all right, and was ready for the potential wringer of reuniting with her dad.

"Mum wanted to make sure I was over 16 so I would be able to cope and be ready," says Jazz who was promised as a child that one day she could try to contact him.

As she made the decision, it wasn’t a rejection she feared.

"My main concern was that something bad would happen to me or him before I met him or even speak to him," she admits. "That was my biggest worry because I would be devastated."

Stockport-born Beverley met Jazz’s dad, who is of average height, at the Cornerhouse in Manchester. The relationship, which lasted three-and-a-half years, was beset with problems. After Jazz was born at St Mary’s hospital by caesarean at 32 weeks, weighing 3lbs 4oz, Beverley decided she would raise her daughter on her own.

Then, when Jazz was seven, Beverley moved with her parents, Margaret and Norman, from Marple to Colwyn Bay.

Growing up as the only person in her family with the condition, along with a brother and sister, the mother says her childhood and teen years were easier than her daughter’s.

"I think Jasmine’s having a harder time,"says Beverley, who went to Alexandra Park Junior School in Edgeley, the Hollies Convent Grammar School for Girls in West Didsbury and, later, Harrytown High School near Bredbury.

"Today image is so ... you’ve got to have the right everything, from the right trainers to the right mobile phone. If you look different in any way you are excluded or made a target. In many ways it’s harder to fit in."

With the cameras following their every move, the mother and daughter experience many ups and downs as they move away from their family and home in Wales to Hemel Hempstead to gain their independence; Jazz’s first music festival and a journey to New York for the Little People of America convention.

The programme also starkly reveals the public’s ignorance of Jazz and Beverley’s disability.

"It’s mostly they take pictures, like right in my face as well, and not even trying to hide the fact they’re doing it. They’ll just openly walk up to you and take a picture" says Jazz.

"And I will be like, ‘Hello, excuse me?’ And they just think you don’t have a brain. They just think because you’re disabled that you can’t hear, or see, or think, or they just want to be plain rude.

"This film was about opening people’s eyes and for them to think ‘Actually, they do have a normal life, they do think and eat and sleep and be normal’.

"My only disability, I say, is other people’s attitude. Nothing else holds me back. Nothing."

It certainly doesn’t for the animal-mad teenager who hopes, one day, to open a dog rescue centre, after being inspired by working at a kennels and rescue centre.

"I worked at a horse riding centre, I’ve worked in the RSPCA, and I work here (at Appledown kennels and rescue centre in Dunstable). I’ve done abseiling, scuba diving, I’ve been to 18 countries, I’ve done really amazing things for my age and it’s purely because I am the way I am. If I was normal, as people say, I would not have done all of it."

Jazz’s resilience and strength is an inspiration, and her future is bright. In September, she starts at Llysfasi College in North Wales studying animal care. And later, she has hopes for a family of her own.

"I do, definitely," she says. "But from the age of nine or 10 I said that I always wanted to adopt. I would love to adopt a child with my condition because a lot of them are given for adoption. I used to be quite annoyed by that and think ‘How can people do that?’ but now I’ve met a lot of people who have done that and it’s actually because they think they won’t be good enough."

And speaking of family, does Jazz make contact with her father? For that, you will have to watch to find out.

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20 Jan, 2013
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