FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – A 17-year-old Florence student isn't letting a physical disability slow her down.
Instead, she's taking the opportunity to raise her voice.
Jourdan Herring, who attends South Side Middle School, suffers from cerebral palsy. Despite the disability, she has expressed a desire to be more independent and try to attend classes with her peers.
That is why Herring was nominated for the Yes I Can Award, from the Council for Exceptional Children, after voicing her need to be more independent.
Herring said before her special education teacher, Kelsey McGinty, started two years ago, she would spend the entire school day in one classroom.
McGinty said when she arrived, she noticed that Herring was learning but not progressing in her lesson.
"Being in one class can sometimes stifle your progress, especially for someone as social as Jourdan," McGinty said.
Herring said she wanted to do what other students do, despite her physical disabilities.
"She was able to speak up and say, 'I want to try something different, I want to try going to classes, I want to be with my peers," McGinty said.
Herring's ability to raise her voice and promote self-advocacy earned her national attention.
"We were actually asked by the school if we want to nominate somebody and the first person that came to mind was Jourdan," McGinty said.
Herring said even though she didn't win, she felt accomplished for just receiving recognition.
"I did something that's good and somebody recognized that," she said. "I didn't think that anybody would recognize that."
Herring's act is also helping other special-needs students in her class.
"Because Jourdan has been able to kind of pilot this mainstreaming course for herself, we're going to look into doing the same for the other children in the class next year," McGinty said.
The teacher added she has seen a boost in Herring's confidence, something many students like her lack because of their disabilities.
McGinty hopes this will help other students with special needs just as it has done for Herring.
"I think being able to attend regular classes and see that she can do things she thought she couldn't do before, her confidence has boosted so much that she is able to accomplish these things," she said.
As far for Herring, she said she's just getting started.
"I want to go to college and accomplish that, then I want to own a boutique," she said.