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Push Girl Mia Schaikewitz – Leadership Lessons from an extraordinary woman who is breaking through stereotypes of people with disabilities and challenges

In my quest to be on the lookout for inspiring people, places and things I was fortunate to meet the most extraordinary person! I had first caught a glimpse of Mia Schaikewitz on a video about an upcoming series called Push Girls. Push Girls is a reality show that follows the lives of four girls who are in wheelchairs due to accident or illness. They are amazing women living incredibly full lives that just happen to be in wheelchairs. Just watching the clip of the girls and their perspectives on the show and their lives is inspirational and interesting.

I had the privilege of meeting Mia while at the Abilities Expo in Los Angeles, California. I was at this event as an Advisory Board member of Wijit, Inc., a company that makes a unique lever and braking mechanism for wheelchairs. I first saw the dance workshop that Mia and her friends were putting on at the convention. It was amazing! They asked for volunteers to come join them to learn some hip hop moves and have some fun. I was so moved when Auti Angel was leading the charge from her blinged out wheelchair and told the crowd, ‘You think if you don’t have the use of your legs or possibly your arms that you can’t dance, well, let me tell you, if you can move your eyes, you can dance!’ And she proceeded to blink to the beat.

I had an opportunity to meet Mia and spend a little time getting to know her and fellow Push Girl Chelsie Hill. The following is a series of questions and answers with Mia.

Kim: I am a firm believer that it is important to be adaptable – at work, family, life in general – how did you adapt to your life using a wheelchair?

Mia: I’ve always been an independent person and embraced challenges, when I’ve had difficult situations in my life I’ve always found a way to problem solve and take everything as a learning experience. That philosophy has allowed me to adapt in any situation I find myself in. Just knowing there is always a way to make something work or find a new solution keeps me adaptable to anything – whether it be related to physical or emotional circumstances, or when dealing with the important relationships in my life.

Kim: You mentioned that you felt the visibility from Push Girls is important regarding gaining understanding of people with disabilities – could you elaborate?

Mia: I feel so fortunate to be a part of a show that is focused on breaking stereotypes and pulling down a wall that has existed between fear and acceptance. All of us girls on the show have felt compelled to help make life easier for people that have all types of disabilities or challenges by helping society accept us in a natural way. We feel it’s important to enlighten those unfamiliar with the situations to accept us with a positive attitude rather than pity. I believe that if society is more positively educated and accepting it will help those with disabilities accept themselves on the same level. We’ve been doing it for so long in our individual lives, but for it to finally be embraced in the mainstream media it just means that the other side is finally catching up! Now we can reach more people and make more of an impact. It’s a great feeling knowing that positive changes are happening for our community.

Kim: Your work in inspiring people to live their life on their terms is so important, especially to women and young girls striving to live their lives – what have you learned that could help others find what’s important to them?

Mia: I think if you feel unhappy in life it’s sometimes because of something existing in your current situation and what you feel is important to you are out of sync. It’s in those difficult moments when you can really find out what’s important to you and what you want to accomplish beyond unforeseen obstacles. A lot of people use negative situations in their life as excuses for not doing or accomplishing what they want. It’s important to live your life with no excuses. Find out what makes you happy and do it no matter what ostensible obstacle comes your way.

Kim: What has been the greatest challenge in your life?

Mia: The greatest challenge in my life has been what feels like the greatest challenge in the moment something very difficult is occurring. The degree of challenge is all relative to my perspective. For instance, at one point I thought getting paralyzed was the greatest challenge for me, now I feel like it’s the best thing that has happened to me. My viewpoint now doesn’t see it as a challenge; it feels like a great experience in life leading to the ultimate self-growth.

Kim: What gives you the most joy in your life?

Mia: So many things are tied for the “greatest joy in my life” title. Those include:
Swimming, dancing, drawing, learning from others, family, friends, spreading positivity, whatever inspires me in the moment

On the scale of inspiration, I find Mia and her fellow Push Girls rising to the top. They are talented, smart, beautiful women who are not defined by their wheelchairs but by their leadership, spirit, actions and desire to make the world a better place by sharing their stories.

One Response to Push Girl Mia Schaikewitz – Leadership Lessons from an extraordinary woman who is breaking through stereotypes of people with disabilities and challenges

  1. David Delgado says:

    I am a 46-year old man with a disability — cerebral palsy, epilepsy — from birth; the seizures started at 10. I’ve been in countless number of wheelchairs (both manual and electric) throughout my life and never been ashamed, depressed or hidden that fact. It is a part of me. I come from a very average, Hispanic family with four sisters, all of who have good professions — my twin is an assistant professor at Penn State and has several published books. Myself, I’ve been a social worker for ELARCDD and worked at a law office in Nevada. This was right out of college when I was in my early 20′s. Basically, I’ve been on both sides of the coin.

    I decided to check out “Push Girls” and thought it would be a good laugh. Was I ever wrong!!!!!!! I have never heard a load of ignorance, pathetic, shallow people in my life. The only thing this show inspires in me is fury For example, to assume ALL people with disabilities just “sit around a ll day in dirty, grimy sweats playing video games” is an insult not only those with disabilities (past and future), but to humanity itself. I am not saying by any way that these women and their families haven’t suffered — indeed they have. Just this past March, I came frightening close to death. So yes, I understand one’s plight. But, to exploit an entire segment of the population is wrong.
    The Sundance Channel and the producers of Push Girls should be ashamed and embarrassed at their erroneusly and uninformed slant of people with disabilities.

    David Delgado
    Whittier, CA

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