Andrea Dalzell, 27, is the new Ms. Wheelchair New York 2015. Her platform is two-fold — promote activities for people with spinal cord injuries and improve the amount of accessible housing in New York. The latter is especially near and dear to her heart.
“It deeply disturbs me that more and more young people with spinal cord injuries are being forced to live their lives in nursing homes due to housing inaccessibility,” says Andrea. “These vibrant people aren’t given the chance to be productive members of society because circumstances limit their options.”
“Currently, affordable and accessible housing for young people living with disabilities is limited to a wait list or it doesn’t exist at all,” she adds, and boy is she speaking the truth. Thousands of people with spinal cord injuries across the country live in nursing homes. Accessible housing is very hard to find in every single state.
Andrea wants to partner with organizations that help people with SCI stuck in nursing homes find accessible housing, as well as petition local state legislators to increase funding so more accessible housing can be built. Transitional housing also needs to be supported, Andrea points out.
Preach it girl. You’ve got to love her fire for demanding change. Andrea herself became paralyzed when she was 5 after having transverse myelitis, and she was using a wheelchair by age 12
Andrea was also included in the Raw Beauty Project, a photo exhibition profiling strong/beautiful women in wheelchairs sponsored by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which has been a great way for her to promote her platforms. Check out her profile for Raw Beauty.
Andrea is without question an excellent role model that girls with disabilities can look up to. Beautiful, accomplished, with big goals — like one day becoming a doctor — she proves that your dreams do not have to be limited just because you can no longer walk. She credits her awesome attitude to Wheeling Forward, a new nonprofit in the New York City area that helps people with disabilities get out and try new activities.
Follow Andrea on Facebook: Ms. Wheelchair New York 2015