Chaeli Mycroft is the world’s first ‘Ability Activist’ and the first female quadriplegic to summit Kiliminjaro, the tallest mountain on the African continent and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. She is also a co-founder of the Chaeli Campaign, founded on the 6th of August 2004 by 5 girls. It was established to raise R20 000 for Chaeli’s motorised wheelchair. The campaign now aims to change the lives of one disabled child at a time in a significant way.
Since 2004, the Chaeli Campaign has assisted over 3 000 children to receive wheelchairs, hearing aids, food supplements and more, and translated their slogan “Hope in Motion” into a programme in Zimbabwe. Chaeli won an International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011 and a medal for social activism by Nobel Peace Laurentes. They began the 7-day ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro on 27 August 2015 with a team of six committed climbers from South Africa known as the Chaeli Kili Climbers. The purpose of the climb is to raise awareness and funds for The Chaeli Campaign – specifically for their Inclusive Education Programme and Chaeli Cottage Inclusive Pre-school and Enrichment Centre run from Chaeli Cottage. At only 21 years old, Chaeli has already achieved so much for herself and the community. She certainly has a bright and exciting future ahead.
My Definition Of Success | Success, I think, is a process. Many believe that success is an end goal – I disagree. There are so many success ‘moments’ when you’re working towards something that get lost or forgotten when you’re only focused on the end goal. We need to see every bit of progress as a success and we will be more motivated to continue what we’re doing.
I Am Driven By | Creativity, I never stop of thinking of new ideas. I also like to create things that are totally different. Also realizing young people’s growth and how to contribute to their growth.
The Difference Between Good And Great | Definitely passion. If you don’t have passion you won’t live up to the potential. I also believe that what makes the difference is having people around you that believe in what you do because then when things get tough, you have people around who can support you.
The Characteristics Of Success | Determination, because I really do believe that it’s possible to live in a more accepting and inclusive society and I want to play a role in making that happen. I have also been very open about my disability and what my needs are, as well as having expectations of the people in my life to help me to live a full life. I have realized that disability is often scary to people who are not exposed to it as a daily occurrence – if people are fearful because they have so many questions about disability and they don’t know how to ask, I see it as my responsibility to educate them, and they will become less fearful and more willing to engage with people with disabilities.
Lessons I Have Learnt | I have learnt to never be afraid to try and work on new ideas and that there are ideas that a bit of time to happen. Understand that the reason for something not to happen at that time is because it was not the right time. Over the years i have learnt that not all ideas will work immediately, this is part of learning.
Dealing With Doubt | When I was climbing Kilimanjaro, there were many moments where I questioned what we were doing and why we were doing it. I think the situation that expresses this the most was summit day – I think it was around 5am and it was still completely dark, I was freezing, I was exhausted, the climb seemed like it was never going to end, and my team had gone up ahead of me because it was taking longer than expected to get me up there. It was very difficult to get myself into a positive mindset and you’re constantly fighting with yourself. I realized that my team was there for me and they were rooting for me. I realized that I was doing that for many more people than just myself and we had come too far to give up.
The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | I would love for my legacy to be that when people see disability, instead of seeing the limitations they see possibilities. I hope that people will be more open to share their stories and open their lives to opportunities regardless of the impairment you may have.