Sunday , May 20, 2018 - 12:00 AM
Recently, I was excited to be given the opportunity to be an all-day volunteer and “buddy” for the Utah Miss Amazing Pageant.
That means I spent my day managing contestants and making sure they got where they needed to be during the Teen category; and, during the Miss category, I got to be side by side with a contestant the whole night and help her prepare for an interview, a talent event, evening wear and crowning.
Being in this position opened my eyes even more to an inspiring reality, as well as an important and applicable message for everyone.
The Miss Amazing pageant system spotlights girls and women with special needs and disabilities, and gives them a chance to showcase their abilities and show the audience what they love about themselves.
What I really loved about this pageant, held in April at Bountiful High School, was that it never once mentioned the name of the girls’ disabilities. The girls and the audience all know that they have a disability. With many of the contestants I talked to, they told me that their lives were sometimes centered around what they couldn’t do, and they were participating in the pageant so that they could prove that they were stronger than their disability.
Their disability is not who they are, only a small part of them.
Many girls moved the audience by performing songs like “Fight Song” and songs from “The Greatest Showman” that showed this philosophy.
Backstage during many typical pageants, girls often keep to themselves and try their best to calm their nerves or practice their talent; while the contestants are often friends, there is generally a somewhat competitive atmosphere.
This was not the case at Miss Amazing. The contestants were all extremely positive toward each other, and they chatted about everything together.
I asked several of the contestants if they wanted to practice with me before it was time, and if they were nervous. Not a single girl told me she was nervous. Tawnie Larkin, the girl who was assigned to be my “buddy,” told me several times that no one had any reason to be nervous. I kept asking her if she wanted to rehearse her interview or what she wanted to say about herself, and each time she said, “Nah!”
And Tawnie is now your new Utah Miss Amazing 2018.
I kept thinking how great it would be to have just an ounce of the confidence these strong girls and women have. Sometimes I see people who let small setbacks put a large bump in the road, myself included. But these girls, who have setbacks and disadvantages that greatly impact their normal way of life, keep fighting and keep putting their best foot forward. They don’t let it get in the way of who they are.
So next time that you’re nervous about doing something, be it speaking in front of the class or competing in a competition, realize that any disabilities or disadvantages you may have can’t stop you from doing your best and making each experience one of learning. These things may add to your character, but they are not who you are and they do not define you.
Let each challenge or negative experience be only a small chapter of your book and add things like grit to who you are. Everyone deserves a chance to let their abilities outshine their disabilities.
Binnie Green is a junior at Syracuse High School. She loves to learn, is a part of yearbook and Hope Squad, and is Miss Teen Syracuse. She also loves dancing, reading and making friends. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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