Alison Kjeldgaard from World of Children Award has contacted me and told me about Michaela Mycroft, a 19-year-old girl who has cerebral palsy and who is an international advocate for children with disabilities. World of Children Award will be honoring Michaela at their annual Awards Ceremony on November 7.
Born with cerebral palsy, 19-year-old Michaela Chaeli Mycroft sees her disability as a unique opportunity to speak around the world as an “ability advocate,” working toward a global community that accepts and embraces disability. On November 7, World of Children Award will honor Chaeli in New York City for her extraordinary dedication to supporting the needs of children with disabilities.
Chaeli herself has always sought out ways to be independent, not wanting her disability to get in the way of doing the things she loves. When she was only 9 years old, Chaeli and her friends got together to raise money to buy her a motorized wheelchair. “I was inspired by the need to be more independent,” Chaeli said. “I had always only had a manual wheelchair where people had to push me around and I had no control over where I went.”
The success of the fundraiser inspired The Chaeli Campaign, a nonprofit that supports the mobility and educational needs of disabled children in South Africa. Since 2004, The Chaeli Campaign has helped more than 10,000 disabled children receive equipment and physical therapy. A focus on ability and the importance of inclusion are central to each of the eight programs run by The Chaeli Campaign.
“We believe that children with disabilities are catalysts for change in their families and communities,” Chaeli said, “and we need to advocate for a more inclusive society for the benefit of all.”
Today, Chaeli lives in Cape Town and speaks around the world as an advocate for a more inclusive society. She has been recognized for her advocacy efforts with the 2011 Children’s Peace Prize and was asked by UNICEF to write about her experiences. Her essay was published in State of the World’s Children 2013.
“I think the biggest challenge for children with disabilities is the attitudes of the people around them,” Chaeli said. “This attitude is not always positive and is often one of limitation where there is minimal expected of these children and their lives. Their potential is not reached and is wasted and not shared with the world.”
Among many other talents, Chaeli is a dancer and recently performed with her dance partner, Damian, at the 2013 Artscape Women/Humanities Festival in Cape Town. She also regularly competes in dance competitions alongside other dancers in The Chaeli Campaign’s programs.
“I became a dancer, because due to my disability, there weren’t many options for sport,” Chaeli said. “When I found dancing, it was a sport that I could get involved in and excel in. It gave me a platform to get exercise but also have fun and look pretty at the same time.”
To learn more about Chaeli, please visit http://bit.ly/17xRw7a