Born with spina bifida and unable to walk, Meg has always faced challenges. When she started school, she was bussed to a special campus miles from her home and it wasn’t until the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 that she attended the neighborhood school. But even at her local school she was essentially warehoused in special ed programs that didn’t challenge her intellect, as they assumed her cognitive abilities were below average. But when she moved, age 10, to Australia—where children with disabilities were taught alongside “healthy children”— she was finally treated like everyone else.
She eventually moved back to the US, ending up in the Seattle area. After she graduated, finding a job was difficult, as climbing stairs to interview for jobs was not possible. But did this stop her? Absolutely not! Today Meg works for Able Environments, an organization dedicated to linking real estate buyers with mobility, sight, cognitive, or hearing impairments to accessible homes and amenities. Additionally, Meg has been a strong advocate for her community, serving as Miss Wheelchair Washington State in 2008, and has been actively involved with Paralympics and adaptive sports. She’s also served as executive director of the Spina Bifida Association, which prepares families who are new to spina bifida for the challenges that lay ahead by offering support and outreach.
Five years ago, Meg started dialysis and was challenged to balance her diet and fluids while also trying to feel good at the end of the day. She initially struggled with extra fluid weight but now realizes changes in her diet are what keep her feeling good. Meg says the most important way to keep fluid off is carefully planning what you eat and balancing salt intake as much as possible. She has been able to keep her dry weight consistent over the past five years, and attributes this success to keeping her water intake to a minimum. She loves to eat, but good food choices can make the difference, so she strongly advocates reading labels and encourages patients to work closely with available resources, including their dietitian, to devise a plan that works best for them.
When out advocating in the community, Meg says she usually receives three different responses: she’s either ignored, patronized, or accepted. She says people are still learning how to respond or react to people with disabilities, and that’s why educating and being an advocate is important and are major goals in her life.
Thank you, Meg, for all you do to build greater understanding and stronger communities!