ORLANDO, Fla., October 9, 2012 - At only 13-years-old, Izzy Hadala is on a mission to empower kids with physical differences, just like her. Since 1st grade, Izzy has given a speech on the first day of school every year to educate her classmates on her physical disability. Now, she is hoping to spread her message even further with her book, The First Day Speech.
Izzy was born with Ectodermal Dysplasia, or lobster claw syndrome, which halted the development of her teeth, hands and feet. Dr. Raymund Woo, medical director of pediatric orthopedics at Florida Hospital for Children, has been treating Izzy since she was a little girl.
"Izzy has never let her condition keep her from doing things. For example, she wanted to play soccer so she played soccer. We just had to get her to a place where she was able to fit her feet into her soccer cleats," said Dr. Woo. "But what has impressed me the most with Izzy is that she has never seen it as being about what is on the outside, and I think that is a message we can all embrace."
Izzy wrote the book, The First Day Speech, to help tell her story and empower others who look physically different. Izzy transformed her story into a picture book that follows a little boy named Nathan as he struggles to accept his physical difference, a cleft lip. Just like Izzy's own story, Nathan gives a speech to his classmates to answer their questions and show them he is not that different.
"I want to empower other kids with physical differences to have more self-confidence. I know what it feels like to be bullied," said Hadala. "My goal is to get a copy of my book in every classroom in America so no one has to feel inferior or be bullied for looking different."
Florida Hospital is already taking strides to make Hadala's goal a reality. The hospital has purchased and donated 100 copies of the book to local schools throughout Central Florida. Florida Hospital is on a journey to inspire individuals and communities to live longer, healthier lives in mind, body and spirit. Izzy's story is one of courage and inspiration, an important part of living to a Healthy 100.
Izzy Hadala is currently traveling to various schools throughout Central Florida to share her inspirational story and educate other children on embracing their differences. In fact, she recently spoke at The Park Maitland School to more than 600 students, faculty and staff to educate the entire school on how to celebrate differences. The First Day Speech is available for purchase on www.Amazon.com.
For media inquiries only, contact Florida Hospital Media Relations at 407-303-8217.