Standing Tall: Ernest Davis III brings attention to Dwarfism Awareness Month

Published 12:15 am Wednesday, October 25, 2017

LAPLACE — Four-year-old Ernest Davis III wasn’t expected to survive past birth.

After noticing ultrasound irregularities, doctors and nurses advised his mother , Sandia Brown Davis, to bring the strongest people she knew with her to the hospital to keep her grounded during the grieving process. Davis and her family chose not to give up hope, reminding doctors God has the final say.

Since the day he was born, Ernest has defied all odds. After surviving his stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, he went on to meet milestones doctors were nearly certain he would never reach, including walking and breathing on his own.

Emily C. Watkins Elementary School principal Antoinette Robinet poses with Ernest Davis III.

Today, he is like any other 4-year-old. He’s learning right from wrong and loves eating gumbo and hamburgers, going outside to get the mail, riding electric toy cars and playing with his peers, according to his grandmother, Myra Edgar Brown.

The only difference is he was born with achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism occurring in 4 to 15 of every 100,000 live births.

Since Ernest’s first birthday, Brown has made a point to raise awareness for achondroplasia within the River Parishes.

“I want people to be aware that October is also Dwarfism Awareness Month, not just Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” Brown said. “I also want people to be aware every child is different.”

This month, at Brown’s request, public officials in St. John the Baptist, St. James and St. Charles parishes have made proclamations in honor of Dwarfism Awareness to increase visibility in the public eye.

Ernest Davis, sitting in front, is joined in back by cousin Jayvin Brown, aunt De’Andra Brown and grandmother Myra Edgar Brown.

Brown and her family supported Ernest last week at Emily C. Watkins Elementary, where he attends preschool, as he received a proclamation from St. John Chief Administrative Officer Laverne Toombs on behalf of Parish President Natalie Robottom. The proclamation served to educate the community about the definition and causes of dwarfism and included a reminder that people with the condition are just as intelligent and capable as anyone else.

Part of the proclamation reads, “Persons with dwarfism are able to function equally as average-height people and are capable of participating in sports, driving, traveling, fulfilling careers and having families.”

The proclamation stated individuals with dwarfism contribute to the strength of St. John’s economy through various careers and professions and declared October 2017 Dwarfism Awareness Month within the parish.

Ernest keeps up with his classmates and is not treated differently at school, according to principal Antoinette Robinet.

Pre-K paraeducator Jan Montegut said his classmates treat him with respect.

“He’s just like any normal child,” Montegut said. “He’s happy; jolly. He laughs a lot.”

Ernest receives speech therapy services at school, and his teacher, Leslye McAllister-Young, said he takes the reins and lets her know what he likes to do. She said he enjoys school, participates with minimal assistance and isn’t afraid to ask for help when he needs it.

At this age, Ernest isn’t much smaller than his peers, but his shorter limbs and larger head sometimes cause people to stare.

Ernest’s aunt, De’Andra Brown, said the family would prefer people express curiosity by asking honest questions instead of staring. This way, more people would become educated while helping break the stigma that comes with achondroplasia. Plus, they would get to know Ernest in the process.