Not that kind of pageant
While I was at CELA (which seems like thousands of years ago, but was actually only last month), I met Susan Houston of Hudson Seating and Mobility.
She gave me a packet if information about Ms. Wheelchair America. Now, I know with that show about evil pageant moms on TLC and scandals circling other pageants, people might not want to jump on idea of a 'Miss Wheelchair America' pageant.
I'm here to tell you, this is a totally different thing. While these girls are beautiful, the idea here is to honor their work and help them do more in advocacy, achievement and communication. In the end, we don't get a crying girl in a bikini that gets to be in hometown parades; we get an articulate spokeswoman for people with disabilities.
Different states have competitions – although not every state does – and this year, 35 girls will head to Rhode Island in August to compete to be Ms. Wheelchair America.
They'll participate in a mentoring event where they'll be matched with a child with a disability and will work together on projects while they get to know each other. The goal here is to show these children that having a disability doesn't mean you can't be a successful, articulate person.
Another part of the event: a three-day leadership institute, where they'll all learn skills they can bring back to their home states to teach other women with disabilities.
The pageant aspect here comes when the girls present their platforms. Finalists are chosen, and those girls answer questions onstage before the judges select Ms. Wheelchair America 2013.
Learn more at http://www.mswheelchairamerica.org.