Disabled, Not Unable

Aubrey May’s story about how inclusivity can inspire others.
Aubrey May performs on stage at Spinning Tree theatre. (Nicole McCroskey)
Aubrey May performs on stage at Spinning Tree theatre. (Nicole McCroskey)


The stage is a place for people to shine, to perform and showcase talent. But it’s also one of the many ways senior Aubrey May spreads a message. The message of inclusivity. 

“I have merosin deficient congenital muscular dystrophy, which basically means that I’m missing merosin, it’s what makes you strong,” May said. “So obviously, my muscles aren’t as strong as everyone else. I’m wheelchair bound because I can’t walk or stand or do all of that stuff.”

May participates in Spinning Tree Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri, where she found the spotlight as a way to do something she loved while also showing people the power of inclusivity. 

“The message I’m kind of always trying to get across is that even though you’re physically disabled or disabled in any way, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re less than any other person,” May said. 

Participating in theater is a way for May to show others that inclusivity matters, and that she is capable of doing what some assume she isn’t. 

“With the help of Spinning Tree, I’ve been able to show that just because I’m in a wheelchair, I can be as good as anyone else on stage,” May said. “And it’s really cool because I get compliments after the show from just like random people, and they’re like, genuine compliments and I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s cool to see because I’m like, ‘oh, these people are learning that it’s OK for someone like me to be on stage.” 

May’s stage presence also shows others the hard work she did to get to where she is, and how acceptance was a big part of her getting there. 

“It’s also like really reassuring to myself that people are seeing that,” May said. “And they’re understanding it and they do appreciate the work I’ve put in to get where I am today, but it’s definitely gonna take like a while for the entire world to be accepting.”

Not only does May work to spread awareness on the stage, but in school as well where she’s involved in NHS, Student Council, the Community Outreach Committee and is Copy Editor of the Yearbook staff.

“I’m also in IPS,” May said. “And I do love that it’s kind of a way for me to educate people and better myself on including those that are different from me.”

The work May put in on and off the stage will be showcased in an upcoming children’s book, written by Variety, a children’s charity that also works to spread awareness about inclusivity through their series on kids they’ve helped like May. 

Aubrey May is a senior at Olathe West and is involved in numerous activities in and outside of school. (Cate Eighmey)

“They have, like, a series with a bunch of different kids that they’ve helped,” May said. “And I’m one of them. And it’s kind of about my journey through theater and like how I found Spinning Tree Theater, because I used to do theater in middle school.”

The book, called “Aubrey’s Dream,” will also have the forward written by Ali Stroker, the first actor to use a wheelchair to appear on a broadway stage.

“I’m also just trying to educate people on differences,” May said. “And I think inclusivity is something that’s really important.”


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Addison Smith, Online Editor
Addison Smith is a senior and Online Editor for the Owl Post. This is her third year on staff, previously serving as a staff member. Addison is involved in Rho Kappa, Link Crew and Quill & Scroll. Outside of school, Addison enjoys hanging out with friends, making art and watching TV shows, her favorites including, “The Rookie” and “Community.” Addison is looking forward to advancing the print paper, furthering her photography and writing stories about the community. What Addison loves most about journalism is the ability to spread information to the public and the fascinating world journalism provides through writing and photography. 

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