Most little girls dream of their wedding day, becoming a mother, and being crowned Miss America.
If born with a disability, it doesn’t diminish dreams girls might have. In fact, it might make the urge to fulfill them even stronger. I’m speaking from experience. Although born with a disability, I still tried a little bit of everything a typical child without a disability tried. I was a girl scout, member of the middle school’s checker club, and portrayed the young lady of The King of Pop Michael Jackson’s love interest in the music video Thriller in my elementary school’s production.
Just like me, many young women with disabilities are forging the way to make dreams realities. Mikayla Holmgren is definitely one those young women!
Mikayla will be the first woman ever with down syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA Pageant. Mikayla is a vibrant 22 year old and has competed in many pageants in the past. She attends Bethel University where she’s in a postsecondary program for students with intellectual disabilities.
According to Denice Wallace, co-executive director of the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, “Mikayla is a trailblazer”. There’s a huge push for disability inclusion in the world today. It used to be a time when people with disabilities were hidden. In the past we were thought of by some as cursed, stupid, or invalids who had no purpose in life, which we have proven time and time again that this isn’t true. Today, people with disabilities have taken back their God-given rights to be not only heard, but seen.
I’m happy because it seems as if many have grasped the concept of disability inclusion. It’s not unusual these days to turn on the television and see a person with a disability on The Wheel of Fortune, a reality show, or in a commercial. Disability inclusion is everywhere.
Not sure if Mikayla will win the Miss Minnesota USA Pageant, but I wouldn’t count her out either. She’s just as accomplished, talented, beautiful, and determined as the other contestants. What matters the most is Mikayla has the opportunity to compete, breaking down barriers, negative stereotypes, and changing people’s perceptions about people with disabilities. For that alone, Mikayla is already a winner.