A teen with cerebral palsy could become the next Miss England and the first person with a disability to ever win the coveted title.
The Independent reports that 16-year-old Megan Reeve, a student with cerebral palsy, has been taunted and bullied incessantly by her peers. She’s been called names such as “dinosaur” and “penguin” due to the way she walks and even physically attacked once outside of her own home.
Megan, however, is a fighter and a survivor. It’s her personal strength and charisma, coupled with a beautiful that helped get her crowned as Miss Rugby in Bedworth, Warwickshire in April. She’s now on her way to compete in the semi-finals of Miss England, scheduled to take place in July.
I experienced loads of bullying growing up from people in school – because I walk differently to everyone else, they called me ‘penguin’, ‘dinosaur’ and all that,” Megan told the Independent. “It is severe, I struggle on a day-to-day basis. I struggle dressing myself, I struggle with stairs, my posture and things like that.”
Regardless, Megan set her sites on the pageant and never looked back, despite lack of experience and anxiety of trying something new.
“When I actually competed last weekend, that was the first time I had ever been on stage. I was nervous but really excited to do it. We had a pageant training day beforehand where they taught you how to walk and pose, but apart from that I have no experience of these sort of things.”
The experience gave the teen a confidence booster and helped show that despite having cerebral palsy, people can still participate in things they’d like to achieve in life.
In addition to cerebral palsy, Megan also has Asperger’s, a developmental disorder and form of Autism marked by lack of eye contact, awkward social interactions, and failure to express social and emotional reactions considered “normal.”
“For somebody that has a condition like cerebral palsy and Asperger’s, to do what she does, is amazing. She just wants to inspire people,” Megan’s mother, Sarah, said.
Bullying is still a common problem with children across the world, but for those with a disability such as cerebral palsy, bullying can often become more extreme and go unnoticed. As CPG previously wrote, a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) entitled, “Experiences of social exclusion and bullying at school among children and youth with cerebral palsy,” indicates that children with CP are more susceptible to bullying because they are less likely to be able to defend themselves.
Physical limitations could make children with cerebral palsy slower, unable to get away from their tormentors. Their handicaps can also prompt other children to think of them as “weird,” thus sparking taunts and name-calling. Further, many children with cerebral palsy have lower thresholds when it comes to handling disruptive situations, which tends to make them have a “meltdown” quicker than others. Bullies react to the meltdowns by taunting these children even further.
To stop bullying, all children must be made aware of their actions and the consequences that can occur as a result of emotionally and/or physically harming other children.
For more information on bullying and cerebral palsy, refer to CPG article, Cerebral Palsy and Bullying. If your child needs assistance with bullying at a public school, contact the U.S. Department of Justice at (202) 514-4092 or 1-877-292-3804.