Student speaks about living with Alopecia Areata

By Portia Williams

September 11, 2013

Portia Williams

PDT Staff Writer

Kaleigh Woodrow, a sixth grader at Portsmouth Elementary suffers from Alopecia Areata, and spoke to the 2nd grade classes about the disease Tuesday in recognition of National Alopecia Areata Awarenes Month. Woodrow, 11, is the daughter of Patty and Jeff Keaton of Portsmouth.

According to Woodrow’s mother Patty, Woodrow was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata at age four, and began experiencing hair loss at the age of seven.

“I want people to look at me and be able to say, ‘Oh, you have Alopecia, and not cancer.’ I want them to know what it is, and why I have hair loss,” Woodrow said.

According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune skin disease resulting in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body. It usually starts with one or more small, round, smooth patches on the scalp and can progress to total scalp hair loss (alopecia totalis) or complete body hair loss (alopecia universalis).

Woodrow also read a book to the students entitled, “It’s Okay to Be Different” by Todd Parr which generated a discussion about the importance of accepting the differences of others.

She also engaged the students in a discussion about the effects of Alopecia and her personal struggles with the disease.

Jennifer Shope, a 2nd grade teacher at Portsmouth Elementary, said Woodrow’s presentation was enlightening and compelling to the students.

“Kaleigh did a wonderful job presenting to the kids, and they were very involved when she was reading the story. I think these types of discussions are very important because if the kids are not aware they will not know how to respond,” Shope said.

Shope said she believed the students will respond in a different manner in the future.

“Now every time they see her they are going to understand why she has a bandana on her head, or wearing a hat to school, and they will look at her as if nothing is wrong. Kids need to be aware of things, they need to talk about things” Shope said.

Woodrow said she enjoyed talking to the students about Alopecia Areata, is looking forward to her presentation at the Public Library Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, at 3 p.m. The presentation that is open to the public.

Portia Williams may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 286 or portiawilliams@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Portia on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.