"EYE-OPENING, POWERFUL AND EMOTIONALLY NUANCED."THE DAILY BEAST
Push Girls
A SUNDANCE TV ORIGINAL SERIES
starring Angela Rockwood, Tiphany Adams, Auti Angel, Mia Schaikewitz and Chelsie Hill

PUSH GIRLS: Mia pushes through her last little hurdle

This week on PUSH GIRLS, we got a very intimate look at the different ways in which people react to disability. There was a stark contrast not just between Chelsie, who’s still adjusting to her paralysis, but between Mia, Auti, Tiphany, and Angela, and it was fascinating to see the women getting “Fired Up,” in an episode that got very emotional. It’s hard to predict your reaction to a major life change, but I liked the takeaway that Mia left us with: You can start again at any age.

This week we learned that Chelsie is very committed to walking again; she’s pursuing physical conditioning to stay in shape, working with a walker, and fighting to restore feeling in her legs. She’s also willing to go to great lengths, including stem cell therapy, if they offer an opportunity for her to walk, run and dance freely like she did before the accident. As she said at lunch, she’s frustrated by the unfairness of a situation that allowed the other people involved in her accident to get a second chance at walking, while she didn’t.

Chelsie brought up a hot-button issue not just for the disability community, but for society at large. Stem cell treatments are a subject of immense controversy, something Auti touched upon when she articulated her belief that life begins at conception, which means she’s not interested in embryonic stem cell therapies, no matter what they might offer. Angela, who’s had therapy using her own cells, partially regained feeling from the treatment and benefited immensely, but she still wants to be able to touch people, as she told us in a very emotional scene at the Reeve-Irvine Research Center with Dr. Oswald Steward. She’d definitely consider another round of treatment if it became available, and Dr. Steward seems to think it will.

Mia, on the other hand, is well-adjusted to her disability, and talked openly and comfortably about her life with paralysis. As she pointed out, she does everything a walking person does, just…a little differently, sometimes. Tiphany called her on that, though, asking how she could say she was so confident in her disability when she hadn’t entered a pool in 17 years. Confronted with this challenge, Mia decided to go for it, and hit the pool for the first time since her injury.

Seeing Mia carefully lower herself into the pool and then transition into a powerful backstroke was an amazing moment; she put her body where her mouth was, and I think she’s going to be spending a lot more time in the pool from now on. Sometimes, being a push girl means giving a friend a little shove.

Favorite quote, from Auti: I learned not to live for hope but to just live. Because if you live for hope, life just passes you by.

If you can’t stand up, stand out! PUSH GIRLS airs on Mondays at 10P.