Mark Taylor
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Hannah Falkner, an 8-year-old student at Moonlight Elementary, has been named Youth Ambassador for the Walk to Cure Psoriasis.
Hannah said she is looking forward to speaking to others and raising awareness about psoriasis, a chronic genetic disease of the immune system that makes her skin and scalp itch, crack and bleed.
She said it was “awesome” to be selected as a Youth Ambassador.
“It is so much fun to get to do a lot of things to help people,” Hannah said.
Among her duties will be sharing about her experience with psoriasis, which she was diagnosed with last year.
Hannah said she mainly wants people to understand that the condition is not contagious and not to fear those who have it.
“I tell them that I have psoriasis, and that it is not contagious,” she said. “Your skin keeps growing and growing and will not stop, and it just itches very bad.
“I tell my friends that over and over again.”
Hannah was diagnosed with the disease in July, 2010 and wants people to know the disease is not contagious.
Hannah’s mother, Carrie Falkner, added: “That’s what she wants to do – educate everybody, especially people her age.”
The Walk to Cure Psoriasis takes place on Sept. 17 in Kansas City.
Noe Baker, public relations manager for the National Psoriasis Foundation, said Hannah is one of about 7.5 million Americans who live with psoriasis.
The disease affects about 500 persons in the Gardner area and 13,577 in Johnson County.
Baker said psoriasis is especially difficult for children, nearly half of whom report being bullied by their peers.
Thirty-eight percent of those attribute the bullying solely to their psoriasis.
“Psoriasis is not contagious, but Hanna often faces teasing from her classmates, who fear it is (contagious),” Noe said. “They make mean comments about her scalp and sometimes refuse to sit next to her in class.  Although it hurts her feelings, Hannah knows her classmates only tease her because they don’t understand what psoriasis is.”
In addition to the walk, Hannah is having a garage sale at 8 a.m. on Sept. 3 at Calvary Baptist Church, 736 S. Center Street to help raise money for a cure.
“We will also be selling hot dogs and nachos for lunch,” Carrie Falkner said. “All proceeds will go towards  ‘Team Hannah Banana’ goal for  the walk to Cure Psoriasis . Our team goal is $5,000 and we are just over half way there.”
For more information, visit http://walk.psoriasis.org/goto/hannahbanana.