So Inspiring! Destiny Strickland, 11, girl born with a rare condition, proves 'different is beautiful'
Article By Tania Montclair // EEW Magazine // Inspirational Stories
Meet a fierce and inspiring 11-year-old who is reminding everyone that “different is beautiful” and beauty comes from within!
Destiny Strickland, who was born with amniotic band syndrome (ABS)—a rare condition where strands of the amniotic sac separate and entangle limbs or other parts of the fetus—is telling other kids, “It doesn’t matter what they look like on the outside.”
Though Destiny’s severe ABS in utero caused bilateral cleft lip, cleft palate, as well as the absence of her left eye and more, this brave, sweet girl, who has endured 31 surgeries— her first one being at 4 months old—says, “What matters is what’s on the inside.”
ABS occurs in only 1 of every 1,200 to 15,000 live births, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
In an interview with Good Morning America, her grandmother, Lisa Brown, admitted there were times when people could not see past Destiny’s rare external differences and did not respond well.
"The reactions I got from some people, even adults, it broke my heart," she said, adding, "I wanted to protect her from that. If I could have just taken her to an island and kept her away from all of that, I would have."
But Lisa’s confident, kind and outgoing granddaughter had no intention of hiding from the world. Grandma Lisa looks back at how excited Destiny was to attend her first day of kindergarten and how eager she was to make new friends.
Before Destiny arrived, she said teachers and counselors at her school talked to students in each grade to explain the importance of accepting everyone’s differences, and not letting those things stop them from forging friendships.
On Destiny’s first day of school, "She goes into her desk and there’s cards from students [in] kindergarten through fifth grade everywhere, welcoming her and saying, 'I want to be your friend.' It was just so awesome!"
"It is wonderful to see someone who recognizes their uniqueness as a source of strength,” says Dr. Joseph Williams, the chief of plastic surgery at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, who performs all Destiny’s surgeries.
According to Williams, who calls his inspirational patient a “delightful young girl,” Destiny’s next surgery will be to create a space for her eye prosthesis.
More than Dr. Williams see how delightful she is. Destiny’s beautiful spirit is recognized by so many—especially subscribers to her YouTube channel and supporters of the campaign Destiny began with her grandmother called "Different is Beautiful".
Grandma Lisa is hoping Destiny’s story continues to impact children beyond her local community and motivates parents to teach their own kids about accepting those who are not the same as them.
"You can’t assume that your kids understand different,” says Lisa. “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. You really have to teach that."