By Alexis Thompson

Editor’s note: Alexis Thompson is an 11-year-old girl from Bismarck who loves to dance and do public speaking. In 2018, she held the title of Miss Pre-Teen Flickertail State International. Her personal platform, “Choose Happiness” has become more personal than ever, as shared in the following excerpt of an article Alexis wrote for Inspired Woman magazine. The entire piece will be published in our debut issue of Inspired Youth magazine in August. You will find it in print wherever you find Inspired Woman.

For the past two years, on a local, state and national level, I have been spreading messages of happiness through public speaking and volunteering. Little did I know that I would really have to listen to my own happy advice.

In March 2018, I was getting a dress altered, and my seamstress noticed that my shoulders were very uneven. Shortly after that, my parents took me to a Shriners Outreach Clinic, where I had x-rays done on my back. I was immediately sent to Shriners Healthcare for Children where I was diagnosed with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis, and I was given excellent care.

The doctors fit me for a back brace that I wear every day to hopefully stop the progression of my curves. They also gave me extensive physical therapy exercises (scoliosis specific exercises) to do at home each day. Both of these treatments will hopefully help me avoid having major back surgery someday.

At first, I was really scared. I didn’t know what having three curves in my neck and spine would mean for my future. Ever since the age of 3, I have been a dancer. I hoped with all my heart that I could still do what I loved. Luckily, for now, the doctors told me that it is fine. Exercise is good for me and keeps my body strong and limber. Yay! I could keep dancing!  

At first, wearing the brace was not fun! It is very restrictive, and as someone who just wants to move, dance, and do acrobatics all the time, it was pretty difficult to get used to. I was also kind of nervous that it would look weird with my clothes. When given a situation like this, I could have had a really bad attitude and hope that people feel sorry for me; did I really didn’t want to do that? What purpose would that serve? It wouldn’t make my back be straight, and I would just wind up feeling bad. So, I had to find the positives in my situation.June is Scoliosis Awareness Month, and Alexis is working to spread the messages of happiness and offer support to other North Dakota teens with scoliosis. Find out how Alexis is adapting to her brace while still doing the things she loves and how she continues to choose happiness even in the face of new challenges in the August debut issue of Inspired Youth magazine.