A Waverly woman is Iowa’s newest advocate for people in wheelchairs. Jennifer Wolff was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Iowa last weekend at a competition in Iowa City. Wolff, a 39-year-old occupational therapist, she’s learned first-hand how challenging it can be for people in wheelchairs to navigate in the world — and through bureaucracy.
“I was having difficulty getting a wheelchair due to red tape and got interested in doing advocacy work and am finding out more and more and more all the time about legislation,” Wolff says. “My platform is on advocating empowerment for wheelchair users.” About eight years ago, Wolff had to undergo surgery for a tumor on her spinal column which left her without the use of her legs. She quickly discovered it’s a very complicated process to get a wheelchair.
Wolff says, “Funding is really getting cut all around for the end user for the vender and supplier due to some of the policies that were put into place to help decrease fraud, so people aren’t getting the right equipment.” She says she’s already been speaking out on behalf of people who have disabilities, so winning the title of Ms. Wheelchair Iowa will enable her to reach an even wider audience.
“I’ve been working with Users First Alliance, a wheelchair advocacy group,” Wolff says. “It’s web-based and nationwide. We’re trying to help let people know about the process and that they do have a voice and to share their stories so we can let legislators have the face and the stories to go with.”
Wolff will represent Iowa at the national Ms. Wheelchair America competition in August in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
To learn more about the program, visit: www.wix.com/mswheelchairiowa1/home