2022 Ms. Wheelchair USA! Everything You Need To Know About The New Pageant Season’s Competition!
The competition is on for the new pageant season, and the title of Ms. Wheelchair USA 2022-2023. The national competition will be held in July 2022 in Northeast Ohio. But first, a state or regional title is necessary! To enter, please the below contact form and an application kit will be emailed to you!
THE MS. WHEELCHAIR USA STORY
The pageant world boasts more than 4,600 pageant competitions, but only two for women with disabilities that impair their mobility. Ms. Wheelchair USA is very different from the other “disability-based” pageants. In the traditional spirit of pageantry, Ms. Wheelchair USA recognizes that all women, despite any disability, can be beautiful, glamorous, and can exhibit self-confidence in personal, professional, and public life. The women of Ms. Wheelchair USA are exciting, proud of themselves, and their accomplishments. They actively contribute to the betterment of our families, communities, and world.
Ms. Wheelchair USA has been going and growing strong since it was founded in 1997 by Ms. Lowery D. Lockard. Ms. Lockard believed that glamorous pageantry must be afforded to all women. By
providing a stage like Miss America and other well-known “beauty” pageants, she has led the charge for women with disabilities to garner opportunities for themselves, while also laying a unique foundation for disability awareness and understanding. In the beginning, the pageant was an Ohio resident only competition. The event was so successful, that people came from all over the country to watch the competition, and encouraged its expansion. Since it wasn’t fitting to have a Ms. Wheelchair Ohio USA from Kentucky or California, the national Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant was born. Its mission, “to promote glamour, self-confidence and community service; celebrating the achievements of women with disabilities.”
Some subscribe to the theory that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. According to the Ms. Wheelchair USA organization, beauty is found amongst women with disabilities that have overcome unforeseen obstacles, yet continue to offer help, encouragement, and understanding. They not only care for themselves, but believe that turning their personal storms into stories, can and will impact the world in a unique way. Women who utilize wheelchairs or other adaptive devices participate in this program, using it as a mechanism to promote the possibilities for, and the abilities of women; especially those with disabilities.
Competitions begin with the selection of state and regional representatives, judged and selected through submission of an application package. Winners then move forward to compete in a ten-day event each July held in Northeast, Ohio. There is no age limit or marital status requirement to compete. The youngest participants are eighteen years old, while the oldest, to date, seventy-two-years-amazing! Unlike other disability-based pageants, contestants must have a mobility issue, but may have use of their legs. The Ms. Wheelchair USA program does not discourage ability, but instead celebrates the individuality of the women who wear the MWUSA crowns.
The national titleholder is crowned following a week of activities, programs, learning sessions, press appearances, many rehearsals, and three nights of live on-stage production numbers and competitions. Contestants compete in private interview, round-robin interviews, evening wear, on-stage interview, platform presentation, and marketing statement competitions.
Other ancillary competitions include Ms. Photogenic, Ms. Congeniality, The Dane Foundation Quality of Life Award, The Georgia Hudson-Smith Quest for Knowledge award, and several other awards that celebrate a variety of
attributes. The winners of Ms. Wheelchair USA competitions spend their year on a state, regional and national level representing The Dane Foundation, the Ms. Wheelchair USA program, MWUSA national platforms,and a contestant’s own platform issue or activity. There are four national platforms or tenants of the pageant including the accessibility of travel, boundless playgrounds, representation of individuals with disabilities in the media, and conceptual beauty. For the new Ms. Wheelchair USA, the event culminates with a national speaking and appearance tour based on the pageant’s tenants, and on the winner’s own selected platform issue. Of course there is a custom designed crown, banner, a management contract, and a prize package of gifts, gadgets, and opportunities.
In addition to the Ms. Wheelchair USA state, regional, and national competitions, the organization offers an ongoing menu of pageantry and service programs. There is the MWUSA Little Brother & Sister program for children with and without disabilities, and a year-round volunteer service programs for all ages. For contestants and titleholders, there is a Ms. Wheelchair USA Ambassador program, and a budding Ms. Wheelchair International competition. In addition to pageantry, MWUSA contestants that want to share their faith and testimony can participate in Crowns-4-Christ – The Unbroken Tour, a faith-based testimonial and inspirational touring show. Pageant-to-Purpose is open to all MWUSA titleholders. This program creates an alliance among the many winners of Ms. Wheelchair USA and its extended family. It’s designed to promote collaboration about on-going, purpose driven, projects and to enhance the contestant’s personal and professional growth. All of these ancillary opportunities continue promoting and growing MWUSA and The Dane Foundation after the actual pageant competitions are concluded.
The Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant is presented by The Dane Foundation, a nonprofit, 501C3 company with a mission of providing for “the unique needs of individuals with physical and developmental disabilities.” The program is supported by donations, organizational and corporate sponsorships, contestant entry fees, donations and volunteer services. Applications open the day after the national competition concludes, and winners reign for about one year passing their titles to the next winners September 1 of their competition year.
MWUSA NATIONAL PLATFORMS
Ms. Wheelchair USA has four national service platforms that the organization believes are important to the quality-of-lives of women with disabilities. These national platforms are, in addition to the actual mission and business of the pageant, a focus of importance to the Ms. Wheelchair USA organization. Each issue is an area that the founder, contestants, volunteers, and organization believe are important toward improving the lives of women with disabilities. The national platforms include:
Accessible & Boundless Playgrounds
Accessible and boundless playgrounds provide a unique area for children with disabilities so they can play and enjoy social interaction with other children; playing without boundaries that could hinder mobility, sound, sight, and other sensory functions. These special playgrounds also provide an opportunity for parents or grandparents with disabilities to be able to participate in play with their children that may or may not have disabilities.
The playgrounds are designed with ramps between and on play equipment, padded and solid grounds under all equipment, paved sidewalks around the playground, to and from parking, wheelchair and accessible swings, braille to allow for directional play, sensory items to encourage and comfort children with disabilities like deafness or autism, and other accommodations that are built into the playground to make the site boundless for any child or adult with disabilities. Accessible and boundless playgrounds are a platform of MWUSA to encourage the renovation of current play sites, and ensure that new sites are always built with these considerations.
Accessible Travel & Wheelchair Treatment
Anyone who has traveled that uses a mobility device, especially those needing a wheelchair or scooter, has probably already experienced the many horrors associated with air travel. Wheelchairs are lost or damaged beyond repair
as they are mishandled by airline ground crews. Individuals with disabilities are often embarrassed and physically mishandled as they are forced to transfer from their own fitted chairs, to an airline “isle” chair, then strapped in by a stranger, making the individual appear to look like they are Hannibal Lector in a scene from Silence of the Lambs! Individuals with disabilities may load an airplane first, but they are forced to wait until the last passenger leaves the plane before they can exit the aircraft; again waiting for the Lector chair to exit. If they have a transfer in an airport, airport staff will leave individuals in the Lector or drug store chair and they are incapable of moving the chairs on their own because the do not have self-propelling wheels to allow personal movement. Basically, airline travel especially, is a nightmare if you have a mobility issue that requires wheelchair use. It is a platform focus of MWUSA to work with airlines and airports to improve accessibility, train crew to handle wheelchairs properly, understand the importance of a “personal” wheelchair, and teach disability awareness and understanding.
The concept of beauty is often “in the eye of the beholder.” According to the Ms. Wheelchair USA program, all women, even those with disabilities, are beautiful, glamorous and can be confident in themselves at all times.
A disability should never hinder the “concept” of beauty for a woman or any individual. Conceptual Beauty is a platform focus of MWUSA to present all women with disabilities in their own concept of what is beautiful for them. Whether their concept of beauty is jeans, a t-shirt, and a ponytail with no makeup or makeup, false eyelashes, and heels six inches high, all are beautiful with no restriction or “rules” because a woman has a disability. Regardless of what the “eye” may see, women with disabilities deserve to be treated respectfully, and should have the same opportunity to feel and look beautiful…just like any other woman.
Representation of Individuals with Disabilities in the Media
More often than not when you see a character in a movie that has a disability, that actor does not have a disability…they are acting. Why can’t actors and actresses with disabilities get those parts? Why, when a societal issue is being discussed in the media, do we not learn how the issue affects individuals with disabilities? How many newscasters do you see on TV with disabilities? Representation of individuals with disabilities in multi-media is a national platform of Ms. Wheelchair USA with the goal of increasing the opportunities for people with disabilities to work in media and entertainment. Actors and Actresses with disabilities should have the opportunity to play characters with disabilities and those without disabilities. We want these people with disabilities in the industry to be seen for their talent, and have fair opportunities to gain roles and jobs in multi-media, film, and television shows.
Ms. Wheelchair USA 330.612.5242 Info@MsWheelchairUSA.org
PO Box 124 Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44222