Destiny Strickland is used to people staring at her when she goes out in public.
The 11-year-old has a rare medical condition that causes her to look different, but she isn’t letting anyone keep her from loving herself. In fact, she’s hoping to use her appearance to teach others a valuable lesson: “Different is beautiful.”
Her grandmother, Lisa Brown, wanted to protect Destiny as much as possible as she grew up. Because of her amniotic band syndrome, she developed severe facial deformities that have already required 31 surgeries. Perhaps just as unpleasant were the unkind remarks strangers made whenever she was around.
“The reactions I got from some people, even adults, it broke my heart,” Lisa said. “If I could have just taken her to an island and kept her away from all of that, I would have.”
But her confident granddaughter had plans of her own. When the first day of school came, Destiny strode inside, ready to share her delightful personality and courage with her classmates.
Fortunately, school administrators had carefully prepared the other students, so instead of navigating her peers’ discomfort, Destiny found an incredible welcome surprise.
“She goes into her desk, and there’s cards from students kindergarten through fifth grade everywhere, welcoming her and saying, ‘I want to be your friend,'” Lisa said. “It was just so awesome.”
Thanks to this new support network and her devoted family, Destiny has been thriving so much she decided to share what she’s experienced with the world. Inspired by her favorite Disney and YouTube celebrities, Destiny launched her own YouTube channel called “Different Is Beautiful,” where she’s reminding people “it does not matter what they look like on the outside.”
Lisa said she’s already learned so much from watching her granddaughter overcome these challenges with incredible strength and wisdom. She hopes every parent will encourage their kids to reach out to those who don’t look like them. After all, as Lisa said, “You can’t assume that your kids know to go offer to be a friend. You can’t assume that they’re not scared of somebody different.”
It’s incredible that someone as young as Destiny has come to understand that self-acceptance is key to leading a happier life. But we can’t say we’re too surprised. This little girl has more than enough inner and outer beauty to share with the world. With her guidance, we’re hoping more of us will realize loving others is an extension of loving ourselves.
Watch Destiny tell her story in the video below, and don’t forget to share this valuable lesson with others.
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