Miss Kansas Krystian Fish encouraged Liberty Middle School students to "Be Unstoppable" and not let labels dictate who they are and to not label others during a visit Jan. 24.
Be everything you can be and don't let anyone define who you are by a disability.
That was the message Miss Kansas 2017 Krystian Fish presented to Liberty Middle School students during a visit Jan. 24. Fish has presented her platform, "Be Unstoppable," to 10s of thousands of students and other organizations across the state during her reign as Miss Kansas 2017.
Fish was just 11 years old when she volunteered to work at a camp for kids with disabilities. She told the counselors she wanted to volunteer and thought she was supposed to be working with grade school students but ended up working with high school students and becoming best friends with them.
At age 13, Fish had an experience that would solidify her determination to do everything she could to prevent people from being verbally abusive to those with disabilities. She was with a group of children with disabilities at a swimming pool and heard other kids telling her friends they were not welcome, they would get germs in the pool and telling them they should go home. One child called Fish's friend a "retard" a word that should never be used because it's used to put people down. It broke Fish's heart to hear that word used.
"Sweetie, that's not you," Fish said. Then her friend said, "Yes, it is." The friend stayed in the locker the rest of the time the group was at the pool.
That moment had a tremendous impact on Fish. It made her mad. He dad told her she could either be mad or she could do something about it. At the moment, Fish said she was determined to never let anything like that happen again.
She wanted people with disabilities to know that she would always love them and that she would be a safe place for them to go.
At age 17, a friend told Fish about the Miss Kansas Pageant and that the winners got to spend the year talking about their platform. At first she said no but when she thought about sharing a platform on disabilities, she decided that was a way she could spread her message. In 2014, she won the Miss Lyon County Pageant but didn't make it into the top 10 at Miss Kansas but she was inspired by the other contestants and tried again. In 2016, she ran as Miss Kingman County and was second runner-up then won the title of Miss Kansas 2017 when she competed as Miss Heart of the Midwest.
During this time, she continued to do as much as she could to share her message that people with disabilities could do what they set their minds to do.
"People need someone to speak for them," Fish said.
And after she became Miss Kansas, Fish has traveled over 85,000 miles crisscrossing Kansas to get her message to as many as she can.
To get her message to the LMS students, she had them think of a time when they were told they were different or didn't fit in. She asked them to think about times when they may have heard that they couldn't play a game because they might not understand the rules, or when someone wasn't invited to a slumber party because she might not know what to do.
"Deep down we all have labels. We may thing no one else struggles like me," Fish said.
She then had them think of a label they had about something they were really good at. She told to students to learn to love themselves and that would make it easier to love someone else.
"You have so much worth. Theres so much going for you," Fish said.
She encouraged the student to not label anyone with a disability but to be positive and supportive. Fish said she wanted the students help. She wants them to be accepting of others and that people want to be around people with a positive attitude.
She shared the story of four young friends, each with a disability, and didn't let it prevent them from doing what they wanted and enjoying life. She showed some photos of her friend Jacob some of the fun times they were able to share together.
Liberty Middle School Tony Helfrich echoed the message and said the students needed to be supportive and be there for someone.
"We can be that person," Helfrich said.
Fish said there was a pageant for girls with disabilities called "Miss Unstoppable" that allowed girls to show case their abilities. One winner, Rebecca, could play the violin very well.
Fish also shared about a camp she attended in 2015 with an "Ambassadors" program and how they helped share her message. She communicates with many of the campers and gets applications to the camp all the time.
Fish's has been successful in getting her message out there. There is even an Army base in Italy that contacted her on how to implement the program on the base and now there is "Be Unstoppable" Italy Base.