By Cheri Rae 

for The Dyslexia Project

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, at its Oct. 19 meeting, joined communities nationwide in proclaiming October Dyslexia Awareness Month. 

Supervisor Das Williams, who sponsored the proclamation, presented it to Kami Craig, a Santa Barbara High and University of Southern California graduate who was identified with dyslexia at an early age. 

Photo contributed
Santa Ynez Valley native and Olympic water polo gold medalist Kami Craig joined Santa Barbara County Supervisors in the nationwide proclamation of October Dyslexia Awareness Month.

Craig, who was raised in the Santa Ynez Valley, excelled as a water polo player throughout her educational career and all the way to three Olympic Games, earning a silver and two gold medals in the process.

“Today I want to talk about the power of dyslexia,” Craig told the supervisors. “When meeting an individual with a learning difference of dyslexia, I want to encourage you to see that individual through the lens of great potential. Dyslexia has gifted me with resilience, work ethic, intuition, relentless courage and creativity. 

“Great potential does not come without great support,” she said. 

Craig recalled how her mother’s determined advocacy helped her obtain appropriate services in school, and how her dyslexia contributes to her determination to overcome obstacles and succeed beyond her wildest dreams. Now she uses her insights and knowledge to help others.

Craig spoke of how she recently mentored two students beginning to process of testing for dyslexia, telling them, “You will be tested to failure, and your weakness will be sought after. It can feel humiliating, exhausting, and might leave you feeling defeated.

 “Remember during this time and always. The way you learn is not attached to your self-worth, value, intelligence, or ability. Dyslexia does not define you.”

Craig’s leadership skills and teamwork mentality come into play as she mentors, coaches and serves as an inspirational role model for students and athletes. She relies on her experiences as an athlete who has sometimes struggled with learning differences to inspire and support them through her work as a performance and culture coach with Mindful Warrior, and as an athlete mentor through Rise Athletes.

Dyslexia Awareness Month provides an opportunity to recognize the accomplishments and potential of the 1 in 5 who have dyslexia. Craig is an example of how a learning difference, when properly recognized and supported, with understanding and positivity, can be acknowledged, embraced, and used to help motivate others to reach their full potential.

“I would like to lift up Dyslexia Awareness Month as we advocate for those who cannot, develop understanding, and continue support surrounding dyslexia,” she said.

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