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A True Youth Mentor Story

Eight-year-old Caroline was diagnosed with alopecia areata in October 2020. By December of that same year, she had received her first wig and would only go to school if she was wearing it. By January of 2021, she had lost all her hair. It was a difficult transition for Caroline, but all that changed the summer of 2021 when she met Maggie, her new youth mentor. Maggie understood all those challenges, because she had lost all her hair when she was 17 years old. For this reason, Maggie knew she wanted to be a youth mentor. “I knew what it was to be a sore thumb and stick out in a crowd,” explained Maggie. I had friends in school who didn’t have alopecia tell me they understood, but they really didn’t. So, I really wanted to be that friend to my fellow alopecians and help validate what they are feeling.” Little did she know that she would become more than just a friend. Caroline now considers Maggie her bonus sister. “I love that she makes me smile and laugh. We have fun doing makeup, dancing and we even filmed a TikTok together. I love her!”

Soon after joining Maggie at NAAF’s annual conference the summer of June 2022, Caroline stopped using her wig entirely. “After seeing Maggie and talking to her more, she simply said I don’t need a wig anymore,” explained Caroline’s mom, Katie. “It’s given her a ton of confidence and someone she can reach out to for support. She often says it’s easier to be bald and doesn’t want it. And it’s all from seeing Maggie go through life in such a lovely way.”  Caroline’s sister was also diagnosed with alopecia areata after the conference, and now Maggie supports her as well. If either of them have a bad day, Katie texts Maggie and she’ll text them or facetime them to support and comfort them. “They think she hung the moon,” says Katie. “Our whole family adores her.”

NAAF wishes to thank Eli Lilly and Company for their generous support of the Youth Mentor program.

NAAF’s Youth Mentor Program connects children ages 5-18 living with alopecia areata and their parents to Youth Mentors, young people who themselves have alopecia areata and wish to help others. There is no fee to enroll in this program that is supported by donations from our community. Click here to find a Youth Mentor for your child.