Nuala, age 10, wears a bright red flower in her hair when she dances in her tap dance studio. She has on her little metallic shoes and leotard which allow her to move swiftly about the room. Today, she has the whole studio to herself and she can use as much space as she wants.

However, Nuala cannot see very well. She was born with a condition called albinism, specifically the OCA1 type, which takes all the pigment out of her skin, hair, and eyes. This condition creates a visual acuity that can't be corrected. She also has Nystagmus, which causes her eyes to shift back and forth. “They do that all day,” said Nuala. When children at school ask her questions, she knows they are just curious. “I don’t get it [questions] much anymore because everyone knows me. I’m famous,” exclaimed Nuala.

Nuala, 10

Nuala, 10

Even though Nuala has these conditions, she has never let OCA1 albinism stop her from achieving anything she wants. She can accomplish anything she sets her mind to like learning a new language. “'Bonjour, ça va?' That means, ‘Hello, how are you?’ in French,” said Nuala. Beyond knowing French, Nuala knows phrases in Mandarin and Italian.

Along with her dancing skills in tap class, Nuala is very accomplished musically. She plays the piano and the violin, and sings in her chorus, in addition to knowing how to tap and speak three languages. “Not being able to see very well really hasn’t stopped me from doing anything,” said Nuala confidently. She has been able to learn so many creative skills and not let albinism stop her from exploring new things.

As Nuala twirls around the studio with her red flower in her hair contrasting her white skin and hair she is free to express herself however she wants.

Nancy MontejanoComment