First Spaniard in a wheelchair to parade in New York’s Fashion Week
Patricia is a 24 year old girl from Gran Canaria, with bright almond eyes, a smile which radiates light and a brown complexion. Her beauty is reminiscent of a popular fairytale princess from the Far East, a true beauty who doesn’t go unnoticed. Therefore, it is not difficult to believe that she has captured the attention of the organizers of Fashion Week in New York where she participated in 2015, becoming the first Spanish model with reduced mobility to parade in the catwalks of the big apple.
You are the first Spanish model with reduced mobility who has paraded in the Fashion Week in New York, how did this opportunity arise?
Well, looking for a job as a model on the Internet, I signed up for a casting that there was. I didn’t read well of what it was, I just saw that it was a parade and I signed up and that’s how it all came up. They called me, got in touch with me and just went there.
How was the experience?
Well, the truth is that it was a bit crazy because until I came here I wasn’t aware of what I had done there. I was in shock all the time, I didn’t believe I was in New York, what I was doing. It was incredible, unforgettable, that day is lived once in a lifetime and is the goal that every model wants to achieve, to get there.
Despite your fear of traveling by plane and being alone in a foreign country, you were able to take your suitcases and embark on an adventure. How has this experience influenced your professional future?
Yes, that’s right. Because it is an experience that is international, I mean, not here in Spain, it didn’t have so much repercussion. Here, most of the media didn’t know that I was Spanish because I believe that, if they had known, it would have really had more repercussion. It didn’t have the repercussion that I expected, to be honest.
Are you considering a future in the world of fashion?
It’s my dream, it’s always been my dream and it’s what I’d like. I don’t know because I see it a little complicated in the sense that I’m on an island, that here the fashion world is at a standstill and I’d have to go outside to try harder, but I’ve never ruled it out. Right now all I really want is to find a job so I can continue training in what I want and… who knows, right?
What kind training would you like to receive?
Well, I would like to be trained in fashion, aesthetics, beauty, make-up… anything. I really love the whole world of beauty and that’s what I like.
At the age of 11 you suffered from the ailment known as transverse myelitis, could you tell us more about this disease?
It’s a disease that inflames your spine and paralyzes your lower limbs. It may paralyze your hands and everything. To me, thank God, it did not touch me higher but it inflames your marrow and paralyzes you. It’s not a disease that I say “I have a disease right now”, it’s something that happens to you and I have the after-effects now. It’s not a disease, it’s like the flu, it’s something that happens to you at that moment and you may be left with aftereffects. In other words, I don’t have any illness right now, I have the consequence that I have lost the mobility in my legs and have to use a wheelchair.
How has your life been since then?
I’ll be honest, It’s a little chaotic, a huge change and especially at the age of 11 you’re in full growth and you’re starting to discover, as I say, the world. It was a little hectic but I got used to it, I didn’t have any problems. I lived on a ground floor, so I didn’t have any problems either. It is true that I had to change school, high school, that was the hardest thing for me; meeting new people, starting from scratch … but otherwise it was not something that traumatized me, nor that cost me my life . It is true that I have moments of depression in which I obviously wish I didn’t have what I have and I get many lows but they are occasional, as anyone can have. We’ve all had problems and we do, and that’s it, just occasional lows like everybody else can have.
You have stated that while you were studying Nursing Auxiliary Care Technician, you were actively looking for work to pay for your studies, do you think it is even more difficult to find work for a person with reduced mobility (PRM)?
Yes, very much. And I don’t just speak for myself but for people I know and yes, a lot. I was looking for a job about three years ago because I finished ESO and I wanted to continue studying and I couldn’t because I didn’t have money, I didn’t have the means, and I wanted to work and they wouldn’t let me work on anything, but nothing at all, they would back out when I told them I was in a chair. Then, thanks to my family, they helped me together and I was able to pay for my studies as a nursing assistant because they were going to give me as a means out to be able to work in the internship, but I also had problems and they told me that it couldn’t be there, that they rejected me directly in hospitals because I was in a chair to do internships. I finished auxiliary and at the end I could not work of it and now I am as before. I want to go back to school and I don’t have the means, I don’t have a job, I don’t have anything because people don’t hire me. It’s very tough.
We have recently had the pleasure of your participation in the presentation of Omnirooms.com at the 41st Atlantic Trade Fair, the main meeting point for the tourism sector in the Canary Islands. Do you think accessible tourism for people with reduced mobility (PRM) meets the standards?
I thought so, but these days, working with Pedro and Omnirooms, I’ve seen that it’s not. Every time I’ve gone on a trip I’ve made sure that the people who were dealing with it knew my needs and I didn’t do it myself, but it’s true that sometimes here in Gran Canaria I’ve gone to apartments that say they have accessibility and that’s not the case. I think there’s still a little bit left for tourism to catch up with us, but not just tourism but everything: the streets, employment, everything.
Do you think that accessibility is still a unaddressed issue in Spain and particularly in the Canary Islands?
On your trip to New York, did you perceive great differences in terms of accessibility between the American city and Gran Canaria?
No, not really, honestly. It’s true that they were a little more advanced in terms of the metro and so on, but believe me, the difference is not great and it’s a very big popular city. Even so, they are also a little behind in that aspect.
How was New York City not so well adapted?
On the curbs, the taxis, it was very hard to get one. The subway, although it was adapted, had a small step that I, at least, can climb perfectly and go down but there are people who do not. There are people, maybe with crutches, who find it a little more difficult, but let’s face it, the hotel also gave me a bathtub. I had to get in every day with the help of the girl who accompanied me in the bathtub so on. We were all in wheelchairs and there were several of us, about ten girls or so, and they all had the same room, in other words we all had bathtubs. We all had that difficulty to take a bath.
v Omnirooms.com that offers rooms adapted for people with reduced mobility (PRM) showing real photos of the rooms?
I think it was really necessary now because you save a lot of time, a lot of annoyances, a lot of things from having to change hotels unexpectedly. You really make sure of what you’re seeing and that’s what you’re going to find. I think it’s about time they thought a little about us when it comes to tourism. For me it’s a very good initiative and I think it’s going to go further because it was necessary.Patricia Santana is very active in social networks and you can follow her in Instagram, @1993patt, where she already has more than 2000 followers.