Mom Takes on Officials When Special Needs Girl Is Forced Out of Pageant

tiaraEven though her daughter has spina bifida and requires a wheelchair, Rebecca Uccello isn't about to let that stop her from doing all sorts of fun things that other little girls her age do. And that's why she didn't hesitate to put 4-year-old Izabella in the "Little Miss Springfield" pageant -- which you can only imagine how thrilled the child was to take part in.

And as any mom of a special needs kid would, Rebecca did her research and called the facility where the pageant was being held to make sure her daughter would be able to participate without any difficulty. She was told that there were 15 steps up to the stage, so Rebecca figured she could carry Izabella up them and it would be no big deal.

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But then when the two of them arrived at the pageant, Rebecca quickly realized that there was no way Izabella was going to be able to make it onto the stage because of how the auditorium is configured. There were 15 steps to get down to the stage, and another five or so to climb up onto it. She had no choice but to take her out of the pageant.

Ugh. Can you imagine how devastated that little girl must have been when she wasn't able to compete with all the other kids? And on top of her disappointment -- just think how horrible that moment had to be for Rebecca. All she wanted was to see a smile on her daughter's face and to have her feel like a regular kid. Then she arrives at this pageant and gets hit with a firm reminder that she has special needs.

But instead of simply accepting what happened to Izabella as an unavoidable incident she'll probably encounter again, Rebecca is hoping to use her voice to raise awareness about handicap accessibility. She wrote a letter asking other businesses and organizations who are complaint with ADA standards to volunteer use of their facilities for future pageants. Oh, and she's also encouraging other special needs parents not to be afraid to speak up when their child encounters a similar situation.

What a great way to turn a negative experience into something positive, inspirational, and a source of hope for other parents who are dealing with the same kinds of challenges. Somehow I'm guessing that many places don't even realize they aren't up to date with ADA standards -- but how are they supposed to fix them if moms like Rebecca don't take a stand and spread the word that this is simply not acceptable?

She should be so proud of herself for standing up for her daughter instead of simply assuming her life will always be different than that of other children. This may not be the last time Izabella runs into an obstacle like this, but at least she knows her mother is her biggest cheerleader and advocate.

Have you ever had to go to bat for your child?

 

Image via Robynlou8/Flickr

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