Nearly 10 years after being diagnosed with dyslexia, Lily Miller is spending her senior year of high school spreading awareness with her best friend.
Miller and Genesis Baze are students at Midlothian Heritage High School, and they spent the last five months developing a plan to teach the community about dyslexia. They spoke to researchers, teachers and state officials, prepared a 35-page report and started a fundraiser.
All of this is in preparation for the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America competition Feb. 8 in Waco.
FCCLA is a national nonprofit career and technical student organization for students in grades six through 12. The organization focuses on students making a difference in their families, careers and communities by addressing important societal issues through Family and Consumer Sciences education.
FCCLA Heritage adviser Danielle Baze has been a part of the organization for 12 years and spent the last five years overseeing it at Heritage High School.
She explained that in Midlothian, both high school campuses are active members of FCCLA, but they compete against each other and dozens of other Texas schools in the regional competition. If a group makes it past regionals then they move onto state and later nationals with scholarship opportunities along the way.
At the competition, students don’t face groups from their school. Danielle Baze noted that students’ groups compete against those in the same category.
Miller and Danielle Baze’s daughter, junior Genesis Baze are members of the Heritage High School chapter and are one of five teams competing for the school, Danielle Baze said.
“It’s a great group of kids who are trying to do some really important things,” she added.
Since being at MISD, Daniella Baze said she has seen a student has made it to state each year. She is optimistic that it will be the same this year.
Genesis Baze and Miller have been friends for a few years, and while they were hanging out over the summer, they decided they wanted to work together on the project.
They chose to focus on bringing awareness to dyslexia because of Miller’s diagnosis and the lack of knowledge they saw among their peers.
“I have dyslexia, and I didn’t know nearly as much as I know now,” Miller said.
Dyslexia is the difficulty in reading or interpreting words, letters and other symbols, but it does not affect general intelligence.
They said the project takes large amounts of time, but it is preparing them for the future.
“I can use this,” Genesis Baze explained.
At first, they wanted to focus their advocacy project on a national level but found a need closer to home. According to the statistics they found, one in five people is dyslexic.
In terms of the MISD population, that would be an entire middle school campus.
Genesis Blaze explained that the number inspired them to add something to their project — necklaces.
The duo wore silver necklaces with a bar in front that said “1 in 5.” They decided to make the necklaces and sell them as a fundraiser.
“This is my favorite,” Miller said as she held her necklace between her fingers.
They partnered with On the Cutting Edge shop which sells personalized items. The company agreed to sell the necklaces close to cost, and the students decided to sell the necklaces at $18 a piece leaving them about $8 profit.
Their goal is to raise $3,000 for the International Dyslexia Association scholarship fund.
On top of raising the scholarship funds, Miller and Genesis Baze are organizing a dyslexia night in the community for March to share information and tips on diagnosing dyslexia early.
Danielle Baze said she is proud of the projects that her students and her daughter have nearly completed.
"You see students in your classroom be successful, but to see your own child have a passion for something you are so heavily involved in is just the most fulfilling thing as an educator and a parent,” she noted.
Genesis Baze and Miller are focusing their efforts on finishing their project before Feb. 8, and are hoping to reach the state level.