Push Girls is a new series that premiered June 4 on the Sundance Channel. It features 4 female friends (Angela Rockwood, Tiphany Adams, Mia Schaikewitz and Auti Angel) who have all been paralyzed from the neck down.
Auti, Angela and Tiphany were all paralyzed from car accidents and Mia was paralyzed at the age of 15 when her spinal cord ruptured. The women are now in their late thirties and forties and have many years of experience living in a wheelchair. The focus of the show isn't about physically pushing their chairs but how these women push boundaries and do not take "no" for an answer when tackling new challenges that are presented to them.
The new series has gotten some flack from media outlets (like this article from the New York Times) because all four women are very beautiful and outgoing and may not be a full representation of people with disabilities. Bloggers have disagreed and come back to say that people with disabilities battle the same obstacles and struggle to adapt in an abled-body world no matter what they physically look like.
For example, being a former model doesn't mean that Angela has is easy. In the first episode you watch her struggle to find a photographer to take pictures of her for modeling auditions. She asks questions about how wheelchair accessible the photographer's studio is and whether the photographer has shot photos of people in wheelchairs before. She ends up having to coach the person as they photograph her in her wheelchair. It is obviously a new experience for the photographer and for the audience watching the show.
Auti used to be a hip-hop dancer and toured with Salt N Peppa in the early 90s. Her wheelchair can't stop her from continuing her dancing as she enters a ballroom competition in the second episode. Tiphany is very motivated to not let her wheelchair get in the way of people seeing her personality and life goals. Mia struggles to gain acceptance from her mother and focuses on living a positive life with her friends.
The biggest takeaway from the series is that the Sundance Channel is attempting to bring attention to accessibility just like the documentary Murderball brought attention to wheelchair rugby, an intense sport that has changed the lives of people all across the world. You can watch Push Girls on the Sundance Channel every Monday at 10pm.