Jlissa Austin, who was born without arms or knees, shared her story on the Snapchat series. (Image via Barcroft TV)

Since Snapchat’s release in 2011, the messaging app has introduced several features to keep their users engaged, including updates on worldly news, Bitmoji stories and popular stars.

A newfound interest for Snapchatters is the app’s segment titled “Born Different.” Though the hit is broadcasted on Snapchat, it is showcased through Barcroft TV, a British news agency with one of the most popular YouTube channels in the world. Snapchat is promoting the company’s extraordinary creation for free, which is a great way to reach a younger audience of teenagers who are constantly on social media.

Bancroft TV’s “Born Different” was constructed to share the lives of people who are often stereotyped by the public. On the show, individuals work to break down these stereotypes, showcasing their strength and determination to succeed.

Recently, Snapchat featured three special “Born Different” stories that will make you appreciate humanity. These individuals, their stories and their courage to share them are inspiring all Snapchat users.

1. Michiel and Amber Vandeweert

Due to a disease called progeria, otherwise known as “Benjamin Button disease,” these two siblings from Belgium experience premature aging. Associated problems with this disease include problems with patients’ teeth, bone and hair growth.

At age 20, Michiel stands four feet and one inch while his sister is just three feet and seven inches at 12 years old. If you watch the recording of the two siblings, you will immediately notice that Michiel and Amber’s facial features make them look much older than their actual ages.

The rare disease is not inherited but rather randomized, with only about 155 known cases worldwide. Although doctors shared with the family that it would be impossible to have another child with the same condition, eight years after Michiel’s birth, Amber was born.

Though the lifespan of someone with progeria is around 13 to 14 years old, Leon Botha was a young man who lived to 26 years old. Michiel hopes to outlive him reaching at least 30 years old.

These siblings are just like other teens and enjoy their free time by hanging out with friends. Their story shows that life can’t be taken for granted and Michiel’s message exemplifies that. “People have to enjoy their life as much as possible because even for them life’s too short and you have got to make the most of it,” he said.

2. Jlissa Austin

The second “Born Different” story broadcasts the life of 30-year-old Jlissa Austin, who was born without arms or knees. At 3 feet 4 inches, Austin was told she would never be able to walk or have as normal life. Just like the Vandeweert family was told, Austin’s mother was told her daughter would never be able to talk.

Thankfully, the doctors were wrong. Austin can definitely stand and walk on her own. Sometimes she is limited when it comes to eating, though she has supportive and loving siblings, her mother and her fiancé Johnathan Shorter of 13 years. Austin and Shorter expect to marry this summer. Now, the soon to be bride is living her best life with a smile, and pride and gracefulness in her heart.

3. Lucas Starr

Another inspiring “Born Different” story, shared by way of Snapchat, is Lucas Starr. Starr is an 11-year-old boy who lives with a giant congenital nevus, or large mole-like feature on his face. The nevus is also present inside of the body, which causes fluid and pressure to build in the brain. As a result, Starr’s condition must be monitored every three to six months. The condition is present in one out of every 500,000 children.

During the summer of 2018, Starr underwent surgery to remove a dangerous tumor. The surgery was successful but resulted in a large scar, which prompted Starr’s classmates to bully and tease him.

Though Starr has faced tragedy in his early life, the young boy does not let his condition stop him from having fun. During the film, the eleven-year old’s father shared that his son uses his free time to play video games with his family and friends. He dreams of becoming a professional racecar driver in the future.

A Facebook page entitled “Team Lucas” shares content that “inspires others that a normal everyday life is for everybody to have,” as stated by Starr’s father.

These three empowering examples showcase that physical differences do not determine success. Even if you don’t suffer from a physical disability or limitation, you can find some inspiration in these stories.

If you happen to be a Snapchat user, watch it for yourself and share the latest “Born Different” video with your friends and family. Also, don’t forget to head over to Barcroft TV’s YouTube channel and their website to explore, gain insight and overload on their old and new videos.

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