“Fall down seven times, stand up eight” is a motto 19 year-old Isabella Burton lives by. Isabella, a student at the University of Cincinnati’s Clermont campus, is pursuing a degree in social work and was recently named Ms. Wheelchair Ohio. She also has spina bifida.
Isabella walked until age 13, when a series of back surgeries prompted her to begin using a wheelchair the majority of the time. This transition was emotionally taxing at first, but her determined spirit helped her to see the benefits, such as eliminating back pain.
Emotions aside, an additional stressor that wheelchair users face is finding easy access to public spaces. In choosing a college campus, UC Clermont’s campus was a home run for Isabella.
She was fortunate to find they offer a variety of accessibility resources, enabling her to enjoy a typical college experience that has thus far been enjoyable and rewarding.
During her reign as Ms. Wheelchair Ohio, Isabella hopes to use her position to raise awareness about spina bifida, as well as mobility issues others may face. She states, “My goal is to use my story to help people see beyond the wheelchair. I’m a 19 year old college student, daughter, sister, and friend- oh and I happen to use a wheelchair to get around. I’m not my disability, though it certainly impacts my life. The Ms. Wheelchair USA program promotes women with disabilities, and I feel so honored to represent Ohio and spotlight women- that happen to use a wheelchair to get around.”
Though she is clearly a beautiful woman on the outside, perhaps what sets Isabella apart is what’s on the inside. She sees her disability not as something that hinders or defines her, but as just a small part of her life. It’s clear that with her work ethic, resilience, and positive attitude, Isabella is going places- and she just happens to be going in a wheelchair.