Sunday, October 21, 2007

Girl's Best Friend

It takes guts to be a girl in this world. There is no denying it. It is an exciting and fruitful position to have, but it takes a certain amount of courage. There are media images to combat, stereotypes to face, and the ongoing processes of connecting to and holding onto the true voice within herself. Every girl is brave.

One brave girl who has shown up in the news lately is twelve-year-old Shea Megale. Together with her five-year-old companion dog Mercer, she is trying to get the news out about Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a condition that has resulted in her use of a wheelchair to get around. Mercer, Shea, and her mother recently did a television interview to promote Shea's new book, Marvelous Mercer. Shea is remarkably well-spoken, showing the world just what girls have in store for it in terms of an ability to make a difference. "I want to do things to change the world. I think kids like us can," Shea says on the Marvelous Mercer website. She sounds like a New Moon girl!

Marvelous Mercer tells the imagined story of Mercer's nighttime adventures, taking part in the physical activities like ice skating that Shea herself cannot because of her SMA. One point that Shea's mother makes in the interview is that the Marvelous Mercer books (the book is planned to turn into a series) help take the focus off of Shea by focusing people's attention on her dog. It takes bravery to attract the amount of attention that Shea does just by going to the store, and it takes even more to channel her experience constructively by writing. Her "disability" is transformed into a heightened ability to imagine.

This leads me to my questions for you readers. If you had been inventing the English language, what would you have called the word "disability" instead? To me, it's always seemed like it shouldn't have anything that suggests a negative the way the prefix "dis-" so wrongly does. Do any of the alternate terms out there? Or does something like "unexpectedly gifted" ring more of a bell in your heart? I want to know.

What about companion animals? There are all kinds--seeing eye dogs, hearing ear dogs, the list goes on... Do you or someone you know have a special companion animal who makes a difference? In the television interview, Shea pointed out that of all the miraculous things Mercer can do for her, like turning on the lights and opening doors, the most valuable of all is being her best friend.

Bravery has many forms, and this evening I want to celebrate all of you brave girls out there.

Adios for now, Elizabeth


Anonymous said...

Wait? The "world disability"??? Do you mean the "word disabilty"????

New Moon said...

Thanks for catching my typo! I just fixed it.

piglet said...

i agree. i think the word disabilty should be something like challengly gifted or something. diabled people can't help it!

Anonymous said...

I've heard lots of different ways to politely say 'disabled,' probably the best I've heard in differently-abled, but that still implies that something is different/wrong with said person. I think unexpectedly gifted is the perfect replacement.

Anonymous said...

thank you for inspiring me. i would like to write a book also. all i need to do is be a bit more patient. is that what you did?