Celebrating Women’s Day: Michaela Mycroft – our SA inspiration.


South Africa, 2 March 2018:  Fearless. Adventurous. Courageous. Renowned ability-activist Michaela (Chaeli) Mycroft is the inspiration behind The Chaeli Campaign, a social justice foundation changing society’s views on the capabilities and role of disabled children in South Africa and around the world. As a recipient of the International Children’s Peace Prize, 23 year old Chaeli has dedicated her life to pushing boundaries. Born with cerebral palsy and a degenerative neuropathy, Chaeli is the first female quadriplegic to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, and the first wheelchair athlete to finish the Comrades Marathon.

This year she takes on a new challenge, the #BetChaeliCant challenge, is all about creating awareness about the abilities of disabled people as well as their inclusion within society. The challenge will see her embarking on a grueling 75 Km endurance challenge on horse-back through Meerendal Wine Estate, a location best known for hosting the Cape Epic, beginning 19 March.  Funds raised through the #BetChaeliCant challenge will support Chaeli Cottage Pre-School, an inclusive school and enrichment center for disabled and non-disabled children, many from disadvantaged backgrounds.

To understand the magnitude of this horse challenge, one needs to understand Chaeli’s physical impairments. Cerebral Palsy affects movements in different parts of the body, with varying degrees of severity. It’s caused by damage to the fetal or infant brain, before, during or within five years of birth,  hampering neurological development.  People with CP struggle with motor control so have difficulty with posture, balance and movements. This means that actions like walking, talking and completing everyday tasks independently are often a huge challenge. CP is the most common childhood physical impairment and cannot be ‘cured’ but there are treatments to help CP affected individuals to live a full life.

As an internationally acknowledged ability-activist, Chaeli is acutely aware how difficult it is for children with disabilities to gain access to the resources required to live a full life – and this is especially challenging for children living with mobility impairments in rural parts of South Africa, The Western Cape is deemed to have better resources in comparison to many other provinces, but

having resources is not enough to secure effective inclusion. Attitude is critical: being ability and solution focused is important and realizing that inclusion enriches the lives of all concerned. That’s what makes Chaeli Cottage Pre-School an important best practice model for inclusive Early Childhood Development.

Sarah Manning, physical therapist and professional animal wrangler, says riding a horse is going to push Chaeli to the limits of her endurance, “Chaeli is going to need to work ten-fold more than your average, able-bodied person. Her body has to continuously work against its own muscle tension and against gravity to stay upright. Now add to that a horse – a moving, unpredictable creature – and the difficulty is compounded. This challenge will be immense for her.”

The commitment on Chaeli’s side is extensive, but she believes it’s worth it to raise funds for the Chaeli Cottage Pre-School, “We want your bets! People can #BetChaeliCan’t by donating money to betchaelicant.com. All contributions go towards providing access to education and facillities for disabled children, and creating an inclusive learning environment where pre-school children learn together by playing together. Growing ability and inclusion activists at the age of 4, 5 and 6!

Come on South Africa put your money where your mouths are,  #BetChaeliCant- support the campaign and visit betchaelicant.com.