Teen Spotlight – Elizabeth S.

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Elizabeth S

Hi, I am Elizabeth S. from Long Island, New York!

I am 16 years old and I am going into my junior year of high school. As a teenager with albinism I have faced many challenges of the years but have found ways to overcome these battles and prevail stronger than I was before. From a young age I have strived to do the best that I could in anything that I attempted which includes, but is not limited to; school, art, and dance. I have an extremely loving and supportive family, and I even have a sister who has albinism just like me.

Elizabeth S and her sisters

Growing up on the southern shore of Long Island has led me to have a fond appreciation for the water. Most weekends during the summer are spent boating, swimming, and having fun at the beach. Even though most would think I would rather stay inside, during the summer I spend a big chunk of my time outside. I recognize the fact that I have to be careful outside in the sun, but I do not let the sun get in the way of my style. I tend to wear bikini’s, shorts, tank tops, and other articles of clothing that do not provide much protection from the sun, but I am constantly lathering myself with lots of sunscreen. I do wear sunglasses and try my best to wear hats, but I make sure that they are fashion forward and go with my outfit (I understand there are always those times where you have no choice but to wear something just for the functionality).

Since I was little I have always strived to receive the highest grades I possibly could in school. Throughout my years in school I have realized that learning with a visual impairment can be challenging, but I have figured out ways to achieve the same results as “regular” students. From the time I started school I have been blessed to have very supportive parents and an extraordinary vision teacher who were ready to fight for whatever I needed. As I got older I was able to start increasing my role in getting the modifications I desired. As teachers and school administrators saw my parents and my own passion to get what I needed to be successful in an academic setting, they also began to fight for what I needed. During my many years in school I have acquired many forms of assistive technology and have found modifications that have worked great for my unique needs. I have managed to maintain averages within the high 90’s and have taken various accelerated classes along with a few AP (Advanced Placement) classes. Although I spend a lot of my time focusing on my schoolwork I have found a few hobbies which I also spend a lot of time focusing on.

From a young age I have always taken a liking to art and as I have gotten older art has taken over a more prominent part in my life. Even though I love crafting and various styles of art I mainly focus on drawing and painting. Over the years it has become quite obvious that I have a more realistic style to my artwork. While in second grade I began taking art classes at a local art studio and from then on I have improved immensely an artist. This art studio was perfect for me as each student worked on their own projects even though there were several children in each class. I have developed a wonderful relationship with the director of the art studio and I have begun working at the art studio. I also participate in my school’s art club and I take several art classes each year. It is quite ironic that I have found such a large passion for art since I am visually impaired, but I believe that my visual impairment has forced me to take a closer look at the world and focus on the details that are sometimes overlooked by a person with full sighted vision.

Elizabeth S' drawing of Eye

Another activity which takes up a lot of my time is dance. I have always been pretty athletic, but I found that most sports were challenging for me to play on any competitive level. Around the age of five I began taking dance classes which was a great way for me to stay active without having to worry about getting hit in the face with a ball. Dance seemed to be the perfect choice for me as little to no modifications were needed. Now I am on the dance studio’s competition team and I could not imagine not being involved with dance. As I learn a new dance I stand close up to the teacher and it often takes a little longer for me to pick up choreography, but once I know the dance my vision is no longer a concern and I could perform just as well as anyone else. I dance for several hours a week and always seem to find myself at the dance studio.

Yes, my vision presents me with many challenges and yes, my life will always be surrounded by large print papers and sunscreen, but I would not want to have it any other way. Through having albinism I have learned a multitude of valuable life lessons that have shaped me into the person I currently am. Having albinism has made me into a better person and I am so lucky to have this ability.