||15 July 2012 07:00
Carol Albertyn Christie
|Show: ||Carte Blanche|
[Amsterdam, 2011] Woman 1: 'The expert committee of the International Children's Peace Prize has decided to award the 2011 Children's Peace Prize to Michaela Mycroft. Congratulations.'
Michaela Mycroft: 'I see it as my gift that I can share the message to the world that disabled people are still people.'
Chaeli Mycroft was born in Cape Town with cerebral palsy and degenerative neuropathy.
When she was nine years old, wanting more freedom of movement, she set her sights on a motorised wheelchair. With the support of three friends and her sister they started a campaign to raise the R20 000 she needed.
They made cards and sunflower pots and were astonished when they reached their target.
[Carte Blanche 5 December 2004] Justine Terry: "Then we thought when we get to R20 000 we would stop..."
[Carte Blanche 5 December 2004] Chaeli: 'Somebody donated R24 000.'
They far exceeded their expectations in just seven weeks.
Bongani Bingwa (Carte Blanche presenter): 'Once you do something like that it is like, well, there's nothing you can't do."
Erin Mycroft (Sister): "I think we didn't expect to do it so quickly. I think we were determined to do it, but we thought it would take ages; we thought it would take months. Because we didn't even know that we had collected enough money for the wheelchair. I think our parents came to us one day and said, 'Okay, we've done it... you can stop now.'"
[Carte Blanche 5 December 2004] Justine: "Zelda thought, 'Well maybe we could go and buy wheelchairs for other people'."
Chaeli's mother, Zelda, thought that with the extra money they could help other disabled children, and the Chaeli Campaign was born.
[Carte Blanche 5 December 2004] Zelda Mycroft (Mother): 'There's a lot of goodwill out there that possibly needs focus and the whole drive with Chaeli's Campaign was that this was charity that had a face."
With the help of Zelda, the five friends became the five co-founders of the Chaeli Campaign, which, over the years, has helped over 12 000 disabled people by providing them with wheelchairs, walking frames, assisted devices and occupational therapies.
Bongani: 'Looking back, did you ever think you would get as much attention?
Michaela Mycroft: "No. We were doing it because it was fun. Knowing what a difference it made with me to have independence. It's very nice that we can do that for other kids now, but on a much bigger scale.'
What started out as a dream to help their friend gain independence has turned into an organisation that has changed the lives of so many and received worldwide recognition with the International Children's Peace Prize.
Justine Terry (Friend): "I think we were all very emotional because it is such a big thing for Chaeli to be doing and for us to be there with her and to be a part of it."
Tarryn Terry (Friend): "I think the only way to describe how we felt about it was incredibly proud of Chaeli and everything, I suppose, the five of us have achieved."
Bongani: 'As a mom, when she is there receiving this recognition - what has that meant to you?"
Zelda: "I'm humbled and delighted that Chaeli's voice can be heard because there are so many kids around the world who cannot speak, whose talents and abilities are not recognised. To have a champion who has a voice is something very powerful."
Chaeli is now in matric and hopes to study at UCT next year and live in residence.
Michaela: 'I want to be independent and I think my wanting to do that is going to show others after me that we can do it; it is not impossible.'
Chaeli tries to live a life with as few restrictions as possible. Shortly after winning the International Peace Prize she was told of another global award she had won.
Chelsea Terry (Friend): 'I think that we were all really shocked when we found out that Chaeli was going to win the Nobel Laureates Activism Award because it was just so soon after she had won the International Children's Peace Prize.'
It was the first time that the Nobel Laureates of the World awarded a Child Activism Award. Chaeli went to Chicago to accept the award and met people like Bill Clinton and actor Sean Penn.
[Chicago] Michaela: 'There is a song by Nickleback... you have got to get the music in there... and it says, 'What is worth the prize is worth the fight.' And I believe that the prize of inclusion is definitely worth the fight."
Bongani: 'You don't accept the word impossible do you?"
Michaela: "No (laughs)."
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