Last night, the documentary Miss You Can Do It premiered on HBO. It revolves around a pageant devoted to children with special needs where they can receive the spotlight, dress up and have a great time. The competition was started by Abbey Curran, the first competitor with a disability in the Miss USA Pageant (she has cerebral palsy), in order to give girls with special needs a chance to shine.
Unfortunately, while the competition is awesome, the documentary also highlights some awful truths about the world. Namely, that people are still discriminatory and cruel to those who have disabilities.
One family has two daughters with Down Syndrome. After their little girl Meg was born, they decided to adopt a child from the Ukraine with Down Syndrome, Alina, so that Meg could have a sister she could connect with. Basically, they’re like the nicest, most giving people ever. But that didn’t stop some evil people in their neighborhood from vandalizing their property, spray-painting “retoddsz” on their home and car. While the anecdote isn’t pleasant, it really helped illustrate why the pageant is important, and that these kids need more opportunities to be applauded by an audience.
There’s this (sad) myth that kids with special needs and challenges only need care, but the fact is that they also need confidence. They aren’t just children who should be looked upon as not requiring the same excitement, fun and self-esteem that other kids find through activities. Children with disabilities often are either excluded or, because of their needs, unable to participate. (Think: When was the last time you went to a school play and the lead was in a wheelchair, was developmentally disabled, etc.?) The Miss You Can Do It Pageant gives them so much more than the basics — they can showcase their talents, be the center of attention and receive a bunch of applause for being lovely and wonderful kids.