DES MOINES — Iowa women who use wheelchairs are being recruited to take part in the Ms. Wheelchair Iowa Contest this fall. The winner will spend the next year as the state’s chief advocate for people with disabilities.
State director Angie Hulsebus says it’s not a beauty pageant, but a contest based on the person’s achievements since the onset of the disability. There are only a few key criteria to apply. Hulsebus says, “You need to be 21 years or older and use a wheelchair for 100% of your community mobility, so not in your house, it’s out of your house, be a resident of Iowa for at least six months and not held a state title in another state.”
You’ll also need to be able to attract sponsors to raise money for expenses, including the trip to next year’s Ms. Wheelchair America event where you’ll represent Iowa at the national level.
It’s an exceptional chance to advocate, educate and empower, Hulsebus says, through all kinds of opportunities. “It could be reading to kids at a library, it could be public speaking, it could be talking to legislators at the state capitol, you can even be in a parade,” Hulsebus says. “You can do whatever you wish to do, as long as you’re just spreading awareness and advocating for the needs of people with disabilities.”
Applying is as easy as sending the program an email and they’ll send you back an application. “It would be great if you had an idea of what you want to advocate for, which is what we call your platform during your reign,” Hulsebus says. “If you don’t currently have a platform, that is perfectly fine. We can definitely help you come up with that. We would just have a conversation and figure out what you’re passionate about.”
Hulsebus was Ms. Wheelchair Iowa 2009 and says it was one of her crowning achievements. “I loved it. I am a social, people person so it was right up my alley,” Hulsebus says. “I enjoyed talking to people. I got to meet all of my legislators at the state capitol, had multiple conversations. I was in six different parades. I enjoyed speaking with different community clubs.”
This year’s Ms. Wheelchair Iowa Contest will be held October 28th at the Hearst Center For Performing Arts in Cedar Falls.
Contact the program at: mswheelchairiowaprogr[email protected] or through Facebook at Ms. Wheelchair Iowa Program.