Before you watch Johnny’s interview with Elizabeth Reeve, here’s what you should know about Elizabeth…
In 2001, Elizabeth Reeve was an able-bodied Special Education teacher working with severely and profoundly disabled students, when in a moment, her life changed. With her teaching assistant away from the classroom, Elizabeth tended to an epileptic student experiencing a seizure. Alone to care for the child, she was physically overwhelmed by the force and demands of the episode, and as a result, severely injured her back. The resulting damage to her spine and vertebrae, coupled with a preexisting condition of spinal bifida occulta, forced Elizabeth to require the use of a wheelchair for mobility and everyday activities.
“My wheelchair walks for me,” she says. “And with the use of my service dog, she actually helps me out as well so that sometimes I can actually get up and she’ll help me pivot to another chair. My dog acts as my walking tool.”
Elizabeth’s experience with her service dog, Sassy, has not only resulted in two books on the subject, it serves as the basis of her platform as Ms. Wheelchair Oklahoma (USA) 2011. Based upon her own experience of integrating her dog with public life, it’s an area that brings to light the importance of assistance to those in need.
“A service dog – my service dog – helps out with giving an individual independence where they don’t have to have another person around 24/7,” she says. “She is actually able to do everything for me and gives me a greater sense of independence because of the fact that I know she can help me.”
Today Elizabeth not only fulfills her obligations as Ms. Wheelchair Oklahoma (USA) 2011 and is an advocate for the physically challenged, she is also pursuing a Masters in Special Education. In many ways, her life has come full circle.
“What I’m trying to do is become a professor that teaches teachers how to teach Special Ed., because it’s still in my heart to be able to work with the students,” she says. “And since I can no longer lift like I used to, it’s really difficult to get into the public schools. But if I could teach other teachers how to do it, and to be able to have the same kind of love I have for the students that have special needs, then I can live on and have those teachers teach those students.”
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