On Saturday morning, June 10, residents gathered at Patriots Park for the second annual National Organization of Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH) International Albinism Awareness Day (IAAD) walk. The event brought the community together for a meaningful cause to showcase the strength of their support for one another.
Homewood resident Tikia Kidd organized the event to raise awareness about albinism and support families affected by the condition.
The IAAD walk provided a platform to raise awareness and clear up misunderstandings about albinism, a genetic disorder that affects people across the globe. According to NOAH, albinism reduces the amount of melanin in the skin, hair and eyes, causing impaired vision. In the U.S., the condition affects approximately one in 18,000 people, and there are more than 25 types of albinism.
Kidd has personal experience with the difficulties of raising a child with albinism. Her son, Julian Jr., also known as J.A.K., was diagnosed at three months old. Kidd was prompted to seek support due to insufficient information and resources. She connected with NOAH, a crucial source of assistance for her family.
“We are so happy we were connected with NOAH,” Kidd shared. “With Julian being the first person in both of our families to have albinism, it was great to find out what he would need because we had no clue. We didn’t know how to protect his eyes or his skin, so now here we are trying to raise awareness.”
Motivated by her son, Kidd arranged the NOAH IAAD walk to bring attention to albinism and the specific requirements of those with the condition. To foster a more inclusive and informed community, she hosted the event to shed light on the condition, answer questions from participants and defy misconceptions.
According to Kidd, her son’s experiences drove her to transform instances of inquisitiveness and stares from onlookers into teachable moments. Kidd explained how people with albinism may look different, but they are the same as any other person.
Kidd’s involvement with NOAH inspired other families to make connections and raise awareness.
Homewood resident Kerai Riddle has three children, two of whom have albinism — Carmen, 13, and Phillip III, 10.
Riddle explained how she struggled with accepting her children’s diagnosis early on, but connecting with the Kidd family and finding specialists to help her children helped her to embrace their condition.
Riddle and her children have experienced firsthand how albinism affects an individual’s day-to-day life and how it comes with its own set of challenges. Her children explained how for those who may not understand their condition, “people don’t have to be so quick to judge, they can educate themselves rather than assuming, and if you see someone with different skin, leave it alone or ask questions only if they are comfortable.”
Riddle explained how the misconceptions around albinism impacted her children. Unfortunately, both children were teased and bullied over their appearance. Thanks to the Kidd family and NOAH, the Riddle family found solace and relatedness in each other, and they hope to share that with other families with albinism.
In pursuit of her objective, Kidd has written a book titled “Life with J.A.K. Living with Albinism,” which functions as a source of information and education for individuals regarding Julian’s medical condition and the special attention he requires. The book is available for checkout at the Homewood Public Library and for purchase on Amazon.