NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – “I love my job and I love my kids and I just want them to feel like the world is their oyster– they can do anything they want to do in life,” Kenda Felker says.
Felker has been a middle school teacher at Frank Stone Middle School in Paris, Texas for 15 years.READ MORE: Cameron Lavon Stephens, 18, Charged With Murder In Fatal Shooting Of Arlington Teen At Hurricane Harbor
“She has this personality that draws people to her,” one of her students, Nikki Dominguez, says. “She makes it fun, and I love her class.”
Her students, like Callie Crawford, say the lessons Felker teaches go beyond what is written in textbooks.
“She means a lot to me,” Crawford says. “She isn’t just an ordinary teacher.”
Felker was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when she was 15 years old and 12 years ago, the disease took her ability to walk.
“We see her in the classroom every day and she deals with different challenges that we would never think of like opening doors and just getting around in general,” Crawford describes. “She makes it seem like it’s so easy, like it isn’t even a challenge, when it is, day to day.”
Felker says she is not handicapped, but Handicapable.
“I refuse to let people call me handicapped,” Felker says. “I am not handicapped — because ‘capped’ to me means the end, or it is over, and I don’t feel like it is over for me.”
“When you change ‘capped’ to ‘capable’ there is no limit — reach for the sky.”
She says she does not have a disability, but a modified ability.READ MORE: Austin Police Arrest, Charge 19-Year-Old With Murder For 6th Street Mass Shooting
“I can’t go dancing by myself, but my husband and I go dancing all the time and he just wraps his arms around me and holds me and we dance,” Felker describes.
“Is it going to look different? Is it going to be different? Is it going to be harder? Yes, it is. I will not lie to you and say it is not harder, because it is.”
Her life, a daily lesson in perseverance, displayed to her students, that has inspired her platform for Ms. Wheelchair USA titled, ‘Handicapable: Where There’s a Wheel There’s a Way.’
“I really, really want people with modified abilities, whether you are in a wheelchair or a scooter or a walker whatever it is, to feel like life is not over– it doesn’t end,” Felker says.
“I am not this scooter. You are not that wheelchair.”
It is a message of advocacy for Handicapable people that she hopes leads to changes, even right in her backyard, where she says there is a lack of accessible parking.
“We actually counted the spaces, and we did it twice,” Felker says. “There were 261 spaces, and out of 261 spaces, there was one handicapped space, and it wasn’t even a legal handicapped parking space.”
Hoping her advocacy of her platform changes accessibility in her town and inspires her students that nothing should limit what they can achieve in life.
” I just believe in this so much,” Felker says. ” I just don’t think my life is in a wheelchair. This chair is not my life, it is what I get around in, but it is not my life.”MORE NEWS: Vice President Harris On Her Way To Texas For Visit To US-Mexico Border
The Ms. Wheelchair USA pageant will be held this July in Ohio.