Dwarfism Awareness activist Carol Rice is a woman with a mission. As a Little Person (LP) she was told she might not reach some of those goals due to her size. Driving was probably out, basketball was out, playing the piano was out as she was told her fingers were too short. Carol didn’t take no for an answer and went on to succeed at all three. The Cork woman crossed another item off her to-do list when she met Ryan Tubridy for a chat in studio this morning.
Carol filled Ryan in on the Little People of Ireland Convention in Athlone, which she attended recently, as part of Dwarfism Awareness Month. It’s an event for LPs, their friends and family, that provides a forum to share information and support for people with dwarfism-related conditions. Now in her 30’s, Carol only got an official diagnosis of dwarfism 6 years ago. She says her parents and five siblings have given her nothing but support from the get-go:
“My mother took everything with a grain of salt, I was one of the tribe. I’m the youngest of 6.”
There have been dark times for Carol. As a child, she told Ryan she was bullied physically and verbally and it had a big impact on her young life:
“It made me not want to come out for a lot of my teenage years. So I kind of broke away from society and stayed in a lot.”
In spite of these challenges, Carol wasted no time developing her passions. Number one on that list was basketball.
“Since I was 3 years old, Michael Jordan was my idol, so I wanted to be on that court scooping hoops.”
She played in school and on the streets of her home city with her brothers and developed some pretty handy skills, she says. When joint pain stopped her playing, she still pursued the game, going on to take a Masters Degree in Basketball in UCC. She sought out basketball teams and players, even though she was afraid they would make fun of her. The reality was very different.
“I expected the basketballers to mock me like everyone else did, so I said this would be interesting, but they didn’t. They formed a shield around me, like brothers.”
Carol says she has developed techniques for dealing with the bizarre and shocking behaviour some people display to dwarfism. She says some people feel entitled to throw common courtesy aside and touch a Little Person without their permission. Carol says it’s beyond rude:
“Do they think I have some kind of mystical powers? That infuriated me because I found it very rude and ignorant. I will shout now, ‘Don’t you dare put your hands on me!’ ”
These days, Carol is indulging her passion for fashion and pursuing her love of music and song writing. She’s surrounding herself with the right people to support her dreams and ambitions:
“I’m after finding my tribe: I have amazing doctors, I have an amazing piano teacher.”
You can hear more about Carol being voted the best-dressed in UCC, her time as a public relations officer for basketball, and her thoughts on fighting back against bullies in the full interview here.
You can find Carol Rice on Instagram at @tumbleinasadventures.
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