Advocate, Educate, Motivate and Empower

As Ms. Wheelchair New York Heather's advocacy platform is “Advocate, Educate, Motivate and Empower." One of the many ways Heather impacts her community is through her volunteer efforts with the Spina Bifida Association of New York and Double H Ranch. Heather is committed to sharing the importance of self-advocacy. She studied Early Childhood Education at Schenectady County Community College. Heather enjoys arts & crafts, working out, and being outdoors. She was diagnosed at birth with Spina Bifida. Her platform focuses on teaching people to advocate for themselves and others while working together to make communities more accessible to everyone. Heather describes herself as resilient, creative, and determined. 

“Remember creating a community of support, working together, having a positive or determined attitude and a willingness to learn and grow with and from that, is an important part of you successfully reaching goals to make your dreams a reality and create a life you love living and help others do the same,” said Heather.

During her time as Ms. Wheelchair New York 2022 Heather was able to work with Crossgates Mall to plan improvements to their restrooms so they were more user friendly for everyone, as well as ADA compliant. She came up with activities for kids at an after school program to be able to simulate what having different abilities challenges might be like.

Heather regularly speaks to educators at conferences about the importance of having a good support system and being one for their students. She spoke at the Center for Self Advocacy's first women's health summit about the changes that need to be made to improve care for individuals with disabilities in healthcare, including needing more equipment and transfer training. And she speaks to local officials and schools about the importance of accessibility in schools including playgrounds for everyone with and without disabilities. 

It was an honor and inspiration to have Heather Horwedel, Ms. Wheelchair NY 2022, address the Class of 2023.