COLUMBIA HEIGHTS, Minn - Deandra Bardell was born with cerebral palsy, but she hasn't let that stop her from becoming a poet, an artist, a scholar, and an week's Academic All-Star.
Confined to a wheelchair, Dee refuses to let her physical disability stop her from living a full and active life. An all-around athlete, Dee has won awards in both soccer and in martial arts. Academically, Dee excelled in math and science before she won two essay contests through the rotary club and discovered she liked writing, too. Dee's poem "The tattered Notebook" was published in the Minnesota Compas program's annual book for talented high school students, and went on to be selected as a Lillian Wright award winner for creative writing.
"She receives the same curriculum, she's in A.P. classes, she works just as hard as any of our other students", says Columbia Heights principal Joann Karetov. " You know, she has things that she has to do differently, but she is in all the regular classes with the same support that other students get."
But, Dee's true gift is in the way she gives to others. She's logged more than 500 volunteer hours at Courage center, attended a leadership class at George Washington University in Washington D.C., and her anti-bullying poster is a staple at middle schools throughout the Columbia Heights School district.
"Whatever she puts her mind to that, she'll be able to do", says Columbia Heights Case Manager Carmen Mead. "Whether it's going for arts or going for math and science or whatever she chooses, she will be an amazing, amazing person in the future."
Dee carries a 4.0 GPA, and is considering both the University of Minnesota, and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and like many of us, Dee is caught up in the Presidential campaign, and hopes to attend another "Lead America" class at G-W in January, for the Presidential inauguration.
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