Missouri's MISS AMAZING by Becki Uccello
The most fantastic event happened Saturday, March 7, 2020: our daughter, Izzi,
won Missouri’s “Miss Amazing” Pageant, pre-teen division!
Izzi has been participating in pageants since she was three. Her first pageant was “Little Miss Springfield.” She was registered but did not get to fully participate because the venue in which it was held was not wheelchair accessible. We had advised the pageant people at registration, weeks before the event, that Izzi would be using a mobile stander. (A mobile stander is similar to a wheelchair, except she stands instead of sits.) There were steps into the auditorium. There was no ramp to the stage. There was no way for Izzi to participate. Of course, she was disappointed that she was unable to be a part of the event. As her parents, we were disappointed that she was not included.
Three years later, we found out about the “Miss Amazing” pageant that takes place yearly in St. Louis. This pageant is for girls with special needs. Their mission is three fold:
1. Offer a chance for women from different walks of life to learn from each other and develop a valuable support system.
2. Provide opportunities for girls and women with disabilities to test their boundaries and take on new challenges.
3. Provide a public platform for girls and women with disabilities to define themselves on their own terms and dispel stereotypes.
This is right up our alley! We want Izzi to learn from others. We want her to take on new challenges. We want her to be “out there” in the community!
This was Izzi’s fourth year to be a part of the “Miss Amazing” Pageant. Getting her hair and make up done by the professionals is her favorite, of course. She loves meeting new people and bonding with her “buddies”, who are volunteers. This also gives her an opportunity to hone her public speaking skills. She has learned to be confident on stage, and this has translated to being confident in front of any crowd. The overall experience is so valuable to her and, in turn, to our family.
On the way home to Springfield after the pageant, I asked Izzi what she is looking forward to doing as a “queen.” She said, “Next year I get to crown the next queen! And I think I get to help serve lunch!” Participating in these pageants have fostered her willingness to serve, which is such a valuable trait in our society!
One would think that in 2020, inclusion would be the norm. It is not. We are still learning how to push through the barriers so that our daughter is treated like her peers. Through opportunities like the “Miss Amazing” Pageant, Izzi learns poise, acceptance, confidence, self advocacy, and public speaking...skills that we desire for EVERY body.