Guest blog by Jayne Black, Creative Kids Rock
Imagine spending 35 years of your life thinking you were not smart. Then, one day someone tells you that you are, in fact, smart, but you have a learning disability called dyslexia. You learn differently. Dyslexia is a powerful word that changed my life for the better!
Some people don’t want to label their child. I always tell them that if you do not give their disability a name, you are taking away their right to know what it is. If you take away that right, then you are forcing them to accept other names about themselves. None of those names will be correct, which is something I wish I had known when I was a little girl.
My earliest memory of knowing I was different was in kindergarten because I could not rhyme and the teacher telling me in front of the class “I can’t believe you can not rhyme it’s so easy everyone else can!” Then in first grade, I was crying daily – hiding in the huge coatroom closet paralyzed with fear to come out because I might make a mistake and be teased. That experience gives me the passion to be a voice for children with dyslexia.
I meet little girls and boys like myself all the time and it is a continual reminder that children with dyslexia need to know the truth about their disability. They need to know the challenging side, which can be helped with proper intervention. But they also need to know the wonderful cool side – the artistic and creative side. They need to be empowered to know dyslexia means they are brilliant and creative! Their dyslexia was not a mistake. They learn differently. Our world desperately needs more Walt Disneys, an amazing and famous dyslexic!
For me, my long awaited diagnosis finally came because my son, Samuel, was struggling in school. It was suggested we both be tested for a learning disability, and it was determined after further testing and guidance we both had dyslexia. I worked hard to empower Samuel to be proud of who he is and to learn how to advocate for himself in school and life.
Samuel was my inspiration for a book that I wrote – something I never thought I could do! The book is called Why Do I Learn Differently? – a question that he asked. Thankfully, I was able to give him the answer! The book is about my son’s experience before, during, and after his diagnosis. It is a wonderful resource for parents and an empowering book for children.
After My Diagnosis
Since being diagnosed, I have been proud to say I am dyslexic. My goal is for others to feel that way also. I have learned you must love all of who you are. You cannot just love half because you will never fulfill your purpose in life.
I love my creative talented side, which comes from having dyslexia, and I could not even imagine myself any other way. One of the really creative things I love in life is competing in Mrs. Pageants! I have been able to use my journey to bring hope to children who have dyslexia. When you have a crown on what little girl would not think that is cool!
I love inspiring children to love who they are and to know they can do anything they want if they work hard! I also love putting a face to what a dyslexic person looks like which has been a powerful way to break many misconceptions about this invisible disability that continue to exist because of lack of knowledge.
Pageants have also provided a venue that life itself did not for me because it forced me to truly face my fears of saying the wrong word or pronouncing it incorrectly when answering a question in an interview or onstage. I love the quote: “To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.” In my first pageant, I was not even able to answer the question because I was so scared – and I mean literally no words came out! Now, I have worked hard to overcome this fear, and that led to winning the crown. Today my problem is the opposite – I have to work on knowing what words to get rid of so I don’t talk too much!!
I continue to grow and learn. In June, I will compete for the title Mrs. Wisconsin America!
Creative Kids Rock
Let’s rewind to five years ago when I met an eight-year-old, red-haired, adorable little girl and now my co-founder of Creative Kids Rock, Madyson Friese. Madyson is dyslexic, and she also had a negative experience. Meeting her and knowing that her experience as a dyslexic also mostly focused on what she couldn’t do rather than what she could do fueled me with a passion for stopping that cycle for her. I played a role in mentoring her and helping her to be proud of who she is. I wanted her to embrace her creative gifts and talents, which she did.
With help from her supportive family, teachers, and friends, Madyson went from shy and sad about having dyslexia to a thirteen-year-old teen who proudly says: “I want everyone to know I have dyslexia because I think it’s cool!” She loves the strengths of creativity dyslexia has given her. She is an amazing dancer and artist and continually problem-solving. She uses her creative gifts and talents to bless others!
One of the most creative things we have done is to start Creative Kids Rock. We both wanted to do something positive for dyslexic children. We want the 1 in 5 kids with dyslexia to know that they can embrace and pursue their creative gifts and talents through art and volunteerism.
I am proud and humbled to say that in these last twelve months Creative Kids Rock has held twenty-four events in our state of Wisconsin and volunteered for fifteen organizations! One of our partner organizations is the amazing Learning Ally, a nonprofit providing audiobooks to students who learn differently. One of the ways you can help is to donate to our fundraiser for Learning Ally’s Building Books Campaign:
I could talk for hours on this topic but I will sign off now with a powerful word that we want the world to know – Creative Kids DO ROCK!!!!
About Jayne Black, the author: Jayne is a chairperson for Decoding Dyslexia Wisconsin. She co-founded Creative Kids Rock with her friend Madyson Friese, both are dyslexic. Creative Kids Rock would like to start more programs in other states, and Jayne encourages you to reach out to her if interested at Jayne.Black@gmail.com. Find out more at CreativeKidsRock.org
About Learning Ally: As a national nonprofit, Learning Ally provides services to students who have print disabilities, like dyslexia. Creative Kids Rock is helping with our fundraising efforts for our Building Books Campaign. If you would like to learn more, log onto Learningally.org.
– Jules Johnson
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