As she keeps hitting runways worldwide, model Monika Myers wants others to know they too can pursue their passions, whatever they may be.
The Toronto teen, who has family ties to Chatham, has become a role model in the fashion industry.
Last year, she was the first model with Down syndrome in Canada to walk the runway for Toronto Kids Fashion Week, and the first such Canadian model to take part in New York Fashion Week.
Since breaking that glass ceiling, she has become an ambassador, advocate and guest speaker for people with visible and invisible disabilities.
“It’s awesome,” the 15-year-old said Thursday, adding she’s enjoying the experience and looking forward to the month ahead.
She’ll be returning to New York Fashion Week, this time as the first Canadian model on the Runway of Dreams, helping raise awareness for people with disabilities in the industry.
Her photo has also been selected out of 2,400 worldwide entries for the National Down Syndrome Society video presentation on the JumboTron in Times Square.
This month, she will fulfil her dream of walking in Paris Fashion Week for renowned designer, Funari NY, and become the first Canadian to take part in Fashion Week Studio, in Place Vendôme.
“It’s been an unbelievable journey … This year past has been an absolute whirlwind,” said her mother, Stephanie Myers, who is originally from Chatham.
“The world has fallen in love with Monika. The bigger picture is what it stands for about inclusivity and diversity. And that we really are all beautiful.”
Throughout her travels, Monika has spoken at various events including United Nations World Down Syndrome Day in Trinidad & Tobago to support inclusion in the education system and community.
She has an initiative called “I AM BRAVE AND BEAUTIFUL” and makes bracelets to empower others, while donating to charity.
Monika has also been featured in Biz & Fashion magazine.
Stephanie said parents want to see their children do what they love, but admitted watching them effect change is even more rewarding.
“So much excitement has come out of it,” she said. “Monika has opened the door for others. We’ve seen other people with Down syndrome be accepted into the fashion industry since. And other people just pursuing their own dream.”
People can follow Monika on Instagram @Monikamyers08 and @IAMBRAVEANDBEAUTIFUL.