The activist who summited Kilimanjaro in a wheelchair
Michaela Mycroft has spent her entire life in wheelchairs. That hasn’t stopped her from much – Mycroft has summited Mount Kilimanjaro. But there’s one chair that holds particular significance for her. When Mycroft needed R20 000 for a new motorised wheelchair, the then nine-year-old rallied together with her sister and three friends to make and sell cards and pot plants. She reached her goal, proving that a small endeavor could have a huge impact. But while Mycroft, who has cerebral palsy, would be able to move around with ease, other children like her weren’t so lucky. So Mycroft kept going – and the Chaeli Campaign was born.
For the past 12 years, she has used the foundation to raise money to assist disabled children around the country, as well as provide therapy services through the Chaeli Cottage. Here, children from disadvantaged communities can receive regular therapy and assistance. Her efforts have also resulted in a similar programme in Zimbabwe, Hope in Motion, which assists disabled children and their families.
For her outstanding commitment to helping others, Mycroft was awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011, and the Nobel Peace Laureates’ Medal for Social Activism the following year. She’s been featured in 21 Icons for her contribution to ensuring that all South Africans are treated with dignity, particularly those with mental and physical handicaps. Mycroft has done this all while attending mainstream schooling like any other child. Her achievements also include completing the Comrades Marathon and studying at the University of Cape Town. Mycroft’s advocacy, her confidence and the challenges she has overcome show that there’s more to her than her disability. With adequate care, support and encouragement, a physical challenge is not the end.