Formerly wheelchair-bound girl with cerebral palsy walks runway 1 year after life-changing surgery

Katie Renshaw walks the Panda London fashion show unassisted, just a year after taking her first steps. (Photo: Courtsy of Panda London)

One year after surgery helped a formerly wheelchair-bound 11-year-old girl with cerebral palsy take her first steps, she has made her debut at London Fashion Week — walking the catwalk on her own.

Katie Renshaw of Cheshire, England, used only a rolling walker for support as she strutted her stuff for UK-based kids’ fashion label Panda London on Monday, according to the Daily Mail. She sported a skirt, knee socks and a faux-fur vest for her modeling gig, and her hair was done in braids. Renshaw is represented by Zebedee Management, an inclusive agency that represents diverse models and actors — many with disabilities.

Three years ago, Renshaw — who’d been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which affects motor skills, and movement as a baby — was still unable to walk and confined to a wheelchair. After undergoing a nine-hour surgery to straighten her feet and legs a year ago, she was able to take steps on her own.

London Fashion Week wasn’t the girl’s modeling debut, though. She’s already done shoots for other UK-based brands such as River Island and Matalan, according to the Daily Mail. 

“She keeps saying how proud she is of herself,” her mother, Clare, told the publication. “She’s been through everything she’s been through, and now she’s able to do something as massive as this.”

“Katie is not just beautiful and a fabulous model — she is also funny, clever, determined and an absolute inspiration to other young people,” a spokesperson from Zebedee Management told Yahoo Lifestyle. Katie was walking alongside other Zebedee models — a model with autism, another with alopecia, and a double amputee, to name a few. !

“Zebedee are so proud of each and every model that we have on our books,” the spokesperon said. “It is so important to have diverse casting in fashion and the media, and we want to encourage all brands to consider people with disabilities, additional needs and visible differences or heir advertising and productions. It’s time for longstanding discrimination in the industry to end.”

On Zebedee Management’s website, Renshaw’s bio describes her as a girl who “loves art, playing with her friends and makeup.” The company also provided others models with disabilities for the show at  London Fashion Week — and posted footage on its Facebook page on Monday.

In 2017, designer Derek Lam worked with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation to stage a runway show featuring 18 models, all with condition, according to The Cut. Some walked and others were in wheelchairs. “We are talking about very serious things like diversity and gender and empowerment,” Lam told the publication. “But I feel like the conversation never really comes up about a large segment of the population, which is those with disabilities.”

Yahoo Lifestyle has reached out to Clare Renshaw.

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