Suffolk teenager named national ambassador – The Suffolk News-Herald
The Sickle Cell Disease Association of America recently named Ayana Lee Johnson, 14, as the 2021-2023 CSAE National Adolescent Ambassador.
She was selected in a national competition formerly known as the Children’s Poster Contest which began in 1976. Her reign will begin with an official coronation at the annual CSAA national convention from 12-16. October.
In her role as SCDAA’s National Adolescent Ambassador, Johnson will make public appearances and act as an envoy, participating in education campaigns and ensuring public and private sector support for the mission of SCDAA. She will serve as a goodwill ambassador for SCDAA and be a positive role model for teens and others living with sickle cell disease. She was nominated to fill this role by Judy Anderson, President of the Virginia Chapter of SCDAA: Sickle Cell Association Inc.
“CSAE is delighted to have Ayana selected as the new Teenage Ambassador,” said Beverley Francis-Gibson, President and CEO of CSAE. “His determination to fight for other SCD warriors and to educate all who want to hear him about what it is like to live with sickle cell anemia, along with his bubbly personality, are just a few of the reasons for which it was chosen. She is resilient and determined not to be limited or defined by SCD.
Johnson is a student with honors at Nansemond River High School in Suffolk and attends the Governor’s School of the Arts. She is a competitive dancer with many national titles and has been accepted into summer internships with the Dance Theater of Harlem and the Joffrey Ballet School. Johnson also plays the violin and participates in competitions. She currently holds the title of Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Piemont Region 2020-2021.
“Sickle cell disease doesn’t define me,” Johnson said. “I am a warrior living my best life.”
Johnson was featured in 20 Under 21 of the Suffolk News-Herald, and among her many accomplishments is the recipient of the St. Peter Claver Service and Sickle Cell Activism Award; The Making the Difference – Sickle Cell Champion Warrior Prize and Scholarship; and the Excellence Girls Club Pioneer Award 2019. In 2020-2021, she volunteered 200 hours, including some as an escort and blood drive hostess for the American Red Cross.
Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that causes red blood cells to take a sickle shape, which leads to blockages that prevent blood from reaching parts of the body. As a result, people with sickle cell complications may experience anemia, jaundice, gallstones, strokes, chronic pain, organ damage, and premature death. There is no one-size-fits-all cure. Find more information at faucillecelldisease.net.
The Sickle Cell Disease Association of America advocates for those affected by sickle cell disease and empowers community organizations to maximize quality of life and raise awareness while advancing the search for a universal cure. The association and more than 50 member organizations support sickle cell research, public and professional health education, and patient and community services. For more information, visit www.sicklecelldisease.org.