Chelsea Werner, a former gymnast who now works as a model, is dispelling myths about people with various abilities by pursuing her aspirations and rising to prominence.
Down syndrome is a common genetic disorder that causes intellectual and developmental delays, and Chelsea was born with it. Chelsea’s parents Ray and Lisa Werner were informed by doctors that she would have low muscle tone and would struggle in any physical exercise. The family resorted to gymnastics to help Chelsea develop her muscles after a poor attempt at soccer.
Lisa claims, “At first, we had no expectations. When we reflect on her early years, she actually didn’t show that much promise, but after we started working with a coach, she was treated just like the other gymnasts and put in the necessary hours. Every step of the way, we were amazed as she started to improve so quickly. We simply had no idea that she would pursue it to the extent that she has.
Chelsea’s early talent was lacking, according to gymnastics coach Dawn Pombo. Despite her physical limitations, she struggled to walk one way and back on the balance beam while she was extremely excited. Strength presented a challenge at first. Simply put, her muscles lacked tone.
Dawn challenged Chelsea to go beyond her comfort zone because she was a more than willing pupil. Soon she was performing back handsprings and getting better on the floor and balance beam.
When the Northern California Special Olympics Committee discontinued its gymnastics program in 2006, Chelsea was then faced with a new obstacle. Chelsea’s training and travel expenses have to be covered somehow by the family. Unfazed, Ray established Chelsea’s Quest, a charitable organization that assisted with fund-raising and permitted Chelsea to participate in Special Olympics competitions as a member of a one-person team.
For three years, she consistently finished last, but it didn’t matter to Chelsea. When she finally realized what the lesser score signified, it was at that point. That started a brand-new process of teaching her that if this is what she wanted to accomplish, she would need to work harder if she wanted
Like any gymnast, Chelsea started practicing hard, and her efforts quickly paid off. She won the International Down Syndrome Foundation World Championships title in addition to other national championships. She also took part in the women’s gymnastics championships of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as a special guest. The girl reached a level that many people believed was unattainable after previously struggling to stay upright on the balance beam.
Chelsea is currently bringing that same assurance and perseverance to the fashion industry. She was initially rejected by a few fashion agencies, but she didn’t lose up. There is no market for models with Down syndrome, according to numerous modeling companies I visited. I never give up, nor do my parents. I’m showing them a market that exists!
Chelsea was eventually spotted on social media by We Speak, who then approached her. By choosing attractive, healthy models with positive attitudes and distinctive features from all walks of life, We Speak encourages body positivity and inclusivity. She continues to paves the way for people with different abilities and backgrounds as she works alongside other Down syndrome models in the fashion business to promote inclusiveness.
“I don’t believe there is adequate representation of people with Down syndrome. More people will become aware of our potential the more we are represented.
Chelsea claimed that when people see her competing in gymnastics or modeling, it can encourage them to believe in their own abilities. I frequently hear from parents who say that I offer them hope for their disabled children.
Since then, she has participated in ads for companies including H&M, Adidas, and Tommy Hilfiger and walked in New York Fashion Week. Chelsea is the ultimate sports and style rule-breaker and she demonstrates to us that anything is possible if you put your heart and soul into it.