Living with Alopecia as a 10-Year-Old

Life From My View


Julie Stephens


Wyatt Loper is a 10-year-old with a demeanor and outlook on life that comes across with much maturity for his age. It would be hard to overlook that Wyatt does not have hair on his head. But the essence of Wyatt is the very full life he lives.

In basic terms, alopecia (A-loh-PEE-shuh) is the lack or loss of hair from areas of the body where hair usually grows. Most often, the possibility of developing the condition is greater for close relatives such as siblings or children of individuals with alopecia. It affects as many as 6.8 million people in the U.S. People of all ages, sexes and ethnic groups can develop alopecia. Actress and talk show host Jada Pinkett Smith is one of the most famous celebrities with alopecia.

Wyatt’s huge smile makes his eyes sparkle. He is a typical boy who loves being physically active, camping and playing video games; though it is unusual for someone so young to be such an adventurous eater. Wyatt likes sushi and food at hibachi grills. His aunt gave him a charcuterie (shaar-koo-tr-ee) board from Harry and David for his birthday. How many 10 year olds even know what makes up a charcuterie board? While the typical boy dresses up for Halloween as a superhero or something scary, Wyatt chooses Napoleon. Wyatt's interest in history has led to fascinating Halloween choices as a Roman soldier, Omar Bradley (from WW2) and a medieval knight from the first crusade. Wyatt enjoys reading nonfiction and, of course, history, such as the Who Was series. His favorite fiction choices include Harry Potter and the Wings of Fire graphic novel series. He’s an altar server at church and he sings in the small church choir.

Although alopecia is not medically disabling, it can be very emotionally challenging. Some immature kids would tell Wyatt that he should get a wig. When Wyatt was a little guy his hair would come back and fall out again for a few years. It was very difficult when he was too young to understand what was happening. He was angry when his parents cut the bits of hair that remained because he thought the cutting was what caused all of his hair to fall out. As he has gotten older Wyatt’s uplifting personality and tremendous inner strength help him cope with the frustrations of having alopecia and losing all his hair.

Like most people who love living in our little mountain village, Wyatt thrives on being outdoors and has great fun at alopecia camp. The Children’s Alopecia Project (CAP) is a support group specifically for kids with alopecia. At alopecia camp, Wyatt got to go out ALONE on a kayak. He got to rock climb, do archery, go on a zip line, throw an axe and find out what a proper slingshot was like. Besides all the amazing activities and tasty food, it’s a happy change to be with people who know what it is like to live with alopecia and not have to talk about it all the time.

Wyatt notes that sometimes people’s questions can get annoying. “You have to keep repeating the same thing. But because there are not that many people living here in Lake City, once I meet someone they get used to it. They already know! Wyatt just has no hair. He doesn't have to do his hair. I want people to know that alopecia is not a sickness, you can’t catch it, it's a condition. You don't have cancer and you don't have to do your hair.”

Mr. Horn is Wyatt’s 4th grade teacher. He has also experienced hair loss due to hereditary factors. Although his condition is not alopecia, it’s a shared circumstance.

“We have never openly discussed hair loss, but I have shown on many occasions that hair loss is something I choose not to let bother me. I try to elicit the fact that hair loss is something that makes me unique, and that I should take pride in that. 

I think it is important for students to understand at an early age that all of us are human beings, unique, and have strengths and weaknesses. Through this understanding, students can gain confidence, capacity for empathy, and be self-assured.”

Wyatt’s mom, Elisa Loper, says, “The Children’s Alopecia Project hosts several CAP Kids camps. Camp is amazing on different levels. Jeff, the founder, is extremely approachable and helps give the kids confidence and the verbiage to talk about it. We really owe a lot to the camp. They really did change his outlook!”

The Children’s Alopecia Project - CAP got started with the Woytovich Family. Their daughter Maddie (then 5) was diagnosed with alopecia.   The parents could not find a support group specifically for kids with alopecia. They were interviewed about this in the local newspaper and based on the overwhelming response and with the help of family and friends started the Children’s Alopecia Project or CAP. CAP is the only non-profit devoted specifically to helping children living with alopecia. This is done by raising awareness about alopecia, providing support for children and their families, and building self esteem in children living alopecia.                                                                      

It is very admirable how well 10 year old Wyatt handles having alopecia. He has learned the life lesson that most people much older have yet to master: to accept things out of your control and live a full life.

For more information on the Children’s Alopecia Project (CAP)visit                                                                                      


Return to Articles