starring Angela Rockwood, Tiphany Adams, Auti Angel, Mia Schaikewitz and Chelsie Hill

Hitting the slopes on PUSH GIRLS

“Breaking the Ice” was a breath of fun in the midst of my long, hot summer. I started grinning almost as soon as the girls began pouring off the ski lift and I just couldn’t stop until the end of the episode. There’s something transcendent about watching people push their comfort zones and have fun, and in the case of the push girls, it was wonderful to see them doing something as a group that felt so freeing for all of them. The push girls never stop challenging themselves, and they’re stronger when they do it together.

Freedom was the recurring theme throughout the episode, reminding me of the importance of adaptive sports programs. A lot of people think that using a wheelchair means that you can’t do the same things nondisabled people can; as Mia has pointed out in the past, though, using a wheelchair doesn’t mean “can’t,” it means “you sometimes do it differently.” That was really on display in this episode as the girls got into their monoskis and started having some fun in the snow (if you want to see some really hardcore monoskiing, check out the Paralympic Winter Games in 2014).

Their adapted equipment is part of a growing industry catering to people with disabilities interested in pursuing sports. Some want to pick up where they left off before acquiring injuries, while others want to try something entirely new; both were on display this week. In all cases, people with disabilities are breaking boundaries and records in sports right and left as they prove that things like spinal cord injuries don’t change your thirst for adventure and love for the outdoors. The rise of adaptive sports centers makes these activities more accessible to people with disabilities across the U.S.

I was really struck by Angela’s point that her quadriplegia sometimes makes it difficult for her to do things with the girls because of her more limited mobility. It was clear from this episode that not only had she found a new hobby to satisfy her thrill-seeking personality, but she’d found something she could do with the rest of the girls as a full member of the group. All of the girls are such outsized personalities; they love adventuring and pushing limits, and it’s fantastic to see them find something they can do as a group — and hopefully next time, they can find a more accessible ski lodge.

I’ve never been skiing, but this episode made me want to give it a shot; anything that can make people scream with delight and grin that much must be worth trying!

Favorite quote, from Chelsie: “I felt like I had that same freedom when I was snowboarding a month before my accident.”

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