Mia Schaikewitz, 32, wasn’t a professionally trained dancer before her spinal cord injury (caused by an arteriovenous malformation rupture at age 15), but she always loved to dance. And after becoming a T9-10 para, she was not only concerned that dancing was on the chopping block, but also something much more important — her freedom of movement. Luckily she met Auti Angel, a founding member of the world’s first hip-hop wheelchair dance group, the Colours ’n Motion dancers, who proved her wrong.
“When I met Auti Angel and Briana Walker, who were fellow spokesmodels for Colours Wheelchairs, they were already dancing together as an amazing duo team.” Angel and Schiakewitz went on to become close friends, and it was only a matter of time before Schiakewitz began trying some of those hip-hop moves. One of the most important lessons she learned: How to make the chair an asset rather than a limitation.
“Because we have been using wheelchairs for as long as we have, they have become an extension of our bodies, and we embrace that in our dance moves,” says Schaikewitz, who has been a member of the team since 2008. As part of the troupe, she gets to perform for a wide variety of audiences, and that’s a lot of fun. “Doing 360-degree wheelies in sync with the other dancers is one of my favorite moves,” she says. “It surprises people — and a move unique to only a dancer that uses a wheelchair.”
And she loves what they represent. “It’s an amazing feeling to live out our mission to inspire others and break stereotypes — showing audiences of all types of people that a physical limitation is all in the mind.”
The team hosts workshops and is looking for new members. Visit www.facebook.com/coloursdancers.
Stem Cell Sidekick
You may have never heard of the Genetics Policy Institute before, spearheaded by passionate stem cell advocate Bernie Siegel, but it’s silently working on behalf of all people with SCI, promoting and defending stem cell research and other cutting-edge medical research.
To aid its mission, the Institute produces the World Stem Cell Summit, an annual event bringing together scientists, advocates and representatives from the medical industry. And to ensure human stem cell research continues to receive federal funding, it launched the Stem Cell Action network last year, a grassroots campaign to make the public aware of the precarious legalities surrounding the issue.
To support this nonprofit, visit www.genpol.org.
Embrace Your Inner Traffic Cop
The dregs of society who park in disabled parking spaces will have a tougher time getting away with their sloth, thanks to the new Parking Mobility app. This genius app allows users to take multiple pictures of the offending car and submit them to the local municipality. Learn more about it at www.parkingmobility.com.