Dec. 4, 2013 — An East Carter High School freshman was one of seven winners named in the 2013 Yes I Can! competition last week.
Morgan Jones, 14, won the award that honors Exceptional Children and Youth who shine in a particular area. It is given by the Kentucky Council for Exceptional Children.
Seven awards were given. The children were recognized for their exceptional talents, each in a different category: technology, sports, academics, school and community, arts, vocational training and self-advocacy.
Jones won the award for the School and Community area.
Despite having multiple disabilities, she continues to strive. In the fourth grade, Morgan competed in 4-H demonstration speech competitions and won for her school.
The following three years she won school, county, and regional competitions and each time advanced to state competition at the University of Kentucky. In 2012, she placed third in the state.
Morgan does not use note cards when she gives speeches because of her outstanding memory. Judges and competitors are always amazed at her ability and what she has overcome to accomplish her goals, according to her mother, April Keelin.
“I want to inspire others to never give up,” Morgan said during her speech at the awards ceremony. “I am a living example of someone who never gave up. If you work hard, stay positive and never give up on your dreams and goals, you will succeed. Let your accomplishments define who you are, not your disability!”
Morgan has a metabolic disorder called GA2. When she was two days old, she had brain and eye hemorrhages which caused many health problems and delays.
Around 2 years old, Morgan still wasn’t speaking. Her parents got her hearing aids and started using sign language around this time. It wasn’t until about first or second grade that she was finally putting sentences together. By third grade she was winning school speech competitions.