Teen advocates for disabled - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Teen advocates for disabled

December 14, 2003

Albany- Jarvita Parker's crown sparkles even under the dimmest light, a sight she relishes while she can. The 19-year old has a condition that has left her partially blind, and may one day take her sight completely.

"If I have a migraine my vision completely goes, and so I just decided one day after being in the hospital on one of my visits that I wanted to do something positive with my life while I still had sight," she says.

She turned to pageantry as a way to advocate for other Georgians with disabilities.

"I went into the national American Miss Pageant where I placed as the State Cover Girl, and then I went on to nationals and became the National Cover Miss. I just told them flat out I plan to use this to my advantage and to make the most of it in terms of helping people."

Parker now works side-by-side with representatives from the Albany Advocacy Resource Center.

"A lot of our people with disabilities cannot speak for themselves, and certainly she is going to be an asset for them. Being young she can reach the young people," says Annette Bowling of the AARC.

Because of her illness Parker was out of school for sometimes weeks at a time. Her senior year she enrolled in an on-line high school.

"It works for her to be able to work when she feels like working, because there are days and there are sometimes weeks where can't work at all," says her mother Geneva Green.

Now, one of the first things on Parker's agenda is to help pass legislation allowing disabled and home-bound students to complete course work via the Internet.

Through her efforts, she hopes others will focus more on their ability, and not their disability the way she has done.

For past 2 years, Parker has donated her time to advocacy groups that help the disabled. She hopes to enter more pageants to help spread her message.

Posted at 5:15 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com