“I don’t want to be the girl in the wheelchair - I just want to be me.”

Bubbly, intelligent and fun, Kat Pemberton is enjoying college, going out with friends and relaxing at home with her family.

And that is how the 20-year-old from Bradford would like others to see her. But, sadly, not everyone does.

Kat is confined to a wheelchair, and, she says, is sometimes seen not as herself, but a wheelchair user.

“I feel a lot of people focus on my disability,” says the Bradford College student. “They don’t see beyond that. They don’t see me as me.”

Kat was born with spinal muscular atrophy type 2, meaning that over time her muscles become weak.

“When I was younger my mum wondered why I was not reaching all the milestones. I was not walking and was a very floppy baby,” she says. “Over time, my body becomes weaker.”

She has never been able to walk and has always used a wheelchair. Bright and determined, she has faces her challenges head-on, but it has not been easy.

“Growing up with a disability there were never any role models, such as people in the media that I could look towards. The one thing I could have done with was to see someone like me living a normal life. Life did not come with a module on how to be disabled

“I saw friends dressing up and all I wanted was to be able-bodied. It affected the way I socialised. I have always been quite sociable but feel that a lot of people focus on my disability.”

Kat believes that people are well-intentioned, but some of the things they say make it clear that they are not seeing beyond her disability.

Now she has created a film urging young people to be more understanding and accepting of those with disabilities.

Kat takes a humorous look at the way people respond to her as she goes about her daily life.

Some comments, she says, “drive me insane, like 'I bet you never get tired', 'I bet you get special treatment' or 'we need to find you a wheelchair boyfriend'.

She knows that people do not mean to be offensive or inappropriate. ”I just think they often don’t think about their actions or what they’re saying.”

Kat’s film was made with help from the charity Fixers, which works with young people aged between 16 and 25 across the UK by providing them with resources to help them campaign on issues they feel strongly about. In it she pokes fun at some of the hurtful comments that have come her way and she hopes her comedic approach will cut through to her audience.

“For me, humour is a great coping mechanism,” says Kat, whose college friends and sister Amy appeared in and helped her to make the film.

“Everyone has been really supportive, my friends, and my mum and sister,” she says.

Kat does not focus on her disability in the short film, but the fact that she is a young girl doing normal things and wants others to see her as such.

“I feel like the only disability I’m battling is people’s attitudes to my disability. People are sometimes surprised that I go to concerts and nightclubs and drink and dance. I’m just a regular 20-year-old.”

A second-year art and design student, Kat became interested in film-making from watching YouTube, and thought she would have a go herself. She began vlogs about her “weird and wonderful life” on YouTube via her own channel Katzclaws.

Her newfound skills led to her winning a competition organised by Capital Radio and spending time working in London learning how to make films.

“I was surprised when I won it was really confidence boosting,” she says.

Kat is determined to continue her efforts to draw attention to the way others see and treat people with disabilities. She wants to highlight other issues including access when you are out and about. “It can be quite difficult, depending upon where you go,” she says. “I have had good and bad experiences and try to stick to a routine.”

Last year she went to her first festivals, attending V Fest and Leeds Festival. “At Leeds it was muddy – my wheelchair got stuck and I had to be lifted out. My chair fell apart while being lifted and it took one and a half hours to wait for a disabled vehicle to come and get me to take me back to my car.”

The car lift did not work properly due to mud and she injured her feet. “I ended up in A&E,” she says. “I try to document experiences like this.” By drawing attention to such situations, which can be traumatic, she hopes changes can be made. “I am going to do as much as I can,” she says.

In May Kat was among the audience at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester targeted by a suicide bomber. “It was very scary. We were stuck in the middle of everyone running down the stairs and at first the lift did not come. Thankfully we were able to get out.”

She is full of praise for Bradford College. “It has is brilliant and provides all the support I need. I also have a great group of friends.”

Kat presented her film to staff and students at college and got a good response, with people asking questions afterwards. She also attended a high profile charity event and conference on disability in London.

“My main message is that people understand and accept people with disabilities.”

Kat hopes her film will help others in similar positions, and send a message to able-bodied people.

“It’s definitely challenging to be just seen as a normal, everyday young girl,” she says, “I don’t want to be ‘the girl in the wheelchair.”

“I would love people to see me as myself and get to know me, before they get to know my disability and my wheelchair.”

She has received messages of support. “People both with an without disabilities have got in touch and thanked me for making the videos and saying that it is good to be so open about it.”

*fixers.org.uk; youtube.com