Roxana middle schooler spreads awareness after being bullied for rare auto-immune disease

11-year-old Ava Davis has Alopecia. She wants to normalize the disease and stop the bullying that’s behind it.
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 10:40 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROXANA, Ill. (KMOV) - Two weeks ago, a Metro East mother took to Facebook after her daughter was continuously bullied at school. While school leaders handled the situation with grace, Sarah and Ava Davis said they wanted to make others in the community aware of Alopecia and the unnecessary bullying it’s brought to their family. The Davis’ are now talking with only News 4 about their journey.

“I would just wash my hair like normal. Whenever I like got it all out, I would look down at my hands and there would be hair everywhere, and then whenever I would brush my hair, just clumps of hair would come out,” Ava Davis said.

11-year-old Ava Davis started noticing this last August. She said she was terrified. At first, Sarah Davis, Ava’s mother, said she dismissed her daughter. Then, when she noticed bald spots and the hair coming out worsened, they took action. Sarah Davis said they went to several pediatric appointments and then specialists, until the 11-year-old was finally diagnosed with Alopecia last year. It’s an auto-immune disease that attacks the hair follicles, causing people to lose hair and making it difficult to grow it back.

“In January it became too much for her to watch herself going bald every day,” Sarah Davis said.

That’s when Ava Davis said she made a life-changing decision.

“I had like bald spots, like on the back, like on my middle part, and I was not really happy with it. So, my mom was in the kitchen, and I asked her if I could shave my head,” Ava Davis said.

That night was a turning point. Ava started wearing wigs and feeling more confident, but at school it was a different story. Sarah Davis told News 4 Ava Davis’ peers and even a teacher were bullying her.

“She does not deserve to be told she looks stupid or just making her feel less than in general,” Sarah Davis said.

Sarah Davis said Roxana Junior High’s leaders took action immediately.

“The whole 6th grade got to watch a video about Alopecia. It makes me feel much better that people know, and I don’t have to describe it,” Ava Davis said.

For months, Ava Davis was wearing a a dark brown wig. She’s naturally dirty blonde. Sarah Davis said it’s been extremely challenging as many middle schoolers are starting to enhance their looks.

“Everybody’s starting to curl their hair, and wear make up, and all of those things. For her, her hair was falling out and it was really difficult,” Sarah Davis said.

Last week, Roxana School Leaders told Ava Davis they were getting her a new, custom-made wig. Today, she got to try it on for the very first time.

“Whenever we got there I was just like so happy. I can’t explain it. It made me light up with joy. This is like the first time I’ve ever been, like, happy,” Ava Davis said.

Now, it’s Ava and Sarah Davis’ mission to not only educate people about Alopecia, but to also raise awareness for bullying among young kids.

“Please talk to your kids about bullying, about Ava, but for sure bullying in general. It’s very dangerous what they’re doing and the conversations need to be had,” Sarah Davis said.

“I just want people to know that I’m a normal kid. My hair does not define who I am as a person. Alopecia is no joke, and if you say something about it, it can really hurt somebody’s feelings because you don’t know what they’re going through,” Ava Davis added.

Right now, Roxana School District defines bullying as “any intentional, persistent and repetitive written, verbal, graphic, electronically transmitted, or physical act that a student or group of students exhibits toward another student.” The Davis’ are working to talk with the school board to remove persistent and repetitive. They said it’s crucial to know bullying can happen on a one-time basis, and it still is not okay or to be tolerated. They said they plan to go to the school board soon with changes.