Golden Eagle Spotlight: Miss Hattiesburg writes curriculum and book inspired by her brother

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This week’s Golden Eagle Spotlight features Southern Miss graduate student Vivian O’Neal, who created a curriculum, wrote a children’s book and serves as Miss Hattiesburg 2022

The Miss Pine Belt 2022 pageant crowned O’Neal as Miss Hattiesburg on November 22, 2021. She stood on the stage beside four other winners from cities in the area.

O’Neal appreciated the opportunity to represent Hattiesburg in the Miss Mississippi 2022 pageant. 

“Hattiesburg has been a really significant part of my life and part of my experience,” O’Neal said. “I’m just so honored to be able to represent such a special city on a special stage.”

O’Neal knows more than enough about the pageant scene. She earned the Miss USM title in 2019 and acts as a member of the Miss America organization, having competed in pageants for years.

O’Neal utilizes her platform in more than one way. One, she created the CapABLE curriculum to help elementary students associate with students that have disabilities.

“Essentially [it] is a five-day disability inclusion curriculum for kindergarten through third-grade students to educate non-disabled students on how to appropriately approach disabilities and, then, empower students with disabilities to use their voices and advocate for themselves,” O’Neal said.

Two, CapABLE and her brother Josiah inspired her to write her book, ‘Josiah’s Big Day.’ The book chronicles a disabled child’s exclusion in his school’s field day, and the character of Josiah parallels her little brother who has a muscular disease called nemaline myopathy.

“I really just thought it was important to provide another resource for students with disabilities to see themselves represented in their own media, and so, that’s what kind of inspired me to write the book in the first place,” O’Neal said. “But, Josiah is actually based off of my younger brother, Josiah.”

 You can grab a copy of  ‘Josiah’s Big Day’ at T-Bone Records, CapABLEcurriculum.com and also at the McCain Library on Hattiesburg campus.

For more information on the CapABLE curriculum, also visit CapABLEcurriculum.com.