Dyslexia Role Model Bella Thorne
Whenever I visit a classroom to speak about dyslexia for our school district’s (dis)Ability Awareness Days, I ask the 3rd and 4th graders, “Who has ever heard about dyslexia?” Virtually every hand zooms up and the students are immediately engaged.
When I ask, “Where did you hear about it?” a couple of students may say, “My cousin has dyslexia,” or “My dad has dyslexia,” but most of them say something like, “There’s this girl on a tv show who has dyslexia…”
When I answer with, “And is her name Bella Thorne?” they are a little amazed that I know, and glad to share more information about her. I often bring along a poster of the lovely and talented young star of the show, “Shake it Up!” on the Disney Channel, and then show a video clip of her.
Bella Thorne happens to have dyslexia. And so does “CeCe,” the character she plays on the show.
What’s really great about what Bella Thorne is doing is that she’s introducing a whole generation of young people to dyslexia in a positive way, in at least three important ways:
1) Raising awareness about dyslexia in the pre-teen and tween age groups
2) Sharing her personal experience as an example of hard work leading to a positive outcome. She speaks about how her parents encouraged her to read everything she could, including menus, cereal boxes and street signs.
3) She provides encouragement for students who have dyslexia, particularly because she understands what it’s like to be bullied because of it, with comments like,” I would say that you need to talk to a teacher or parent and follow their advice. I’d also like to say that someone else’s opinion of you doesn’t define you.” See this Emmy-nominated clip featuring Bella Thorne talking about her dyslexia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9ZnAYs7cTs
4) She sets a positive example about how to cope with dyslexia in school, with friends, as in this clip from the show, where the two best friends have a heart-to-heart conversation about having dyslexia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-KPmUWchj8 .
Bella Thorne, a great role model for young students who need encouragement about how to deal with dyslexia—their own, and that of their friends.