Margarita Elizondo, is a motivational speaker, founder of Rolling With Me, model, dancer, and writer. She is the author of the children’s book series Rolling With Me And Friends, which teaches children disability etiquette through fun stories. In the interview below, Margarita goes more in depth about her story and why she chose to write a children’s book.
Tell me a little about your story/background:
Margarita Elizondo, is a motivational speaker, founder of Rolling With Me, model, dancer, and writer. She was paralyzed in 2006 and began speaking in churches and schools shortly after her injury. In 2013 she was crowned Ms. Wheelchair California 2013 and in 2019 she was crowned Mi Modelo Especial. Margarita has used her titles as a platform to educate the public on the importance of fully including individuals with disabilities in our communities. She was a dancer before her injury and later discovered wheelchair dance through the San Diego Wheelchair Dancers Organization.
Margarita now travels the country as an Abilities Expo Ambassador sharing her love for dance. Margarita is the author of the children’s book series Rolling With Me And Friends, which teaches children disability etiquette through fun stories. Her writing has also been published in various publications including Abilities Expo, The Buzz, Wheel:Life.org and Mobil Women.
What is your book series Roll With Me And Friends about?
1 in 20 children have some form of disability. That gives 19 children the opportunity to learn about diversity, collaboration, and inclusion each day. These stories get the conversation started!
Each book is designed to teach a disability etiquette, a concept that children and adults alike are curious about, like simply learning it's ok to say, ”hello” instead of asking, ”Why are you in a wheelchair?”.
We released our first three books in February which relate mostly to the disability experience from the perspective of a person who uses a wheelchair like me, but we eventually want to include stories from the perspective of every disability and teach more disability etiquette concepts.
Each book also includes a pledge. “I Am All In”, is a pledge to be accepting and respectful of all people regardless of ability, age, background, sexual preference or religious belief. The purpose of this pledge is to create a community that is diverse, inclusive, and rich in culture.
Why did you choose to write a children’s book?
I choose to write these books after many years of participating in Ability Awareness Programs or presentations for students Pre-K to University level, I found myself talking about and answering the same questions about disability etiquette, inclusion, and overall awareness of life with a disability. I began writing poems/rhyme stories about these topics and realized they would make great books for young readers and a great way for other presenters, educators, and parents to teach these topics as well.
What’s one take away you want children to have from reading your book?
The most important outcome we want students to gain is that there is no reason to feel pity for someone with a disability or think that because a person has a disability they are inferior to those that don’t. People with disabilities, simply live life a little differently than most. but have the same goals and needs everyone else does and that to feel happy and accepted just the way we are.
What are some of your favorite hobbies?
I really enjoy dancing and spending time with my three granddaughters. I dedicated the first three books to each one of them. ”I Really Need To Pee” was being illustrated as my granddaughter Elena was being potty trained so I had to dedicate the first book to her. Rosie is very shy and has some social anxieties so ”Everywhere I Go I See Stairs” was really relatable to her and ”Don’t Touch” was a perfect match for two-year-old Addy constantly allows her curiosity and wandering fingers get her into trouble. My three granddaughters inspire my writing and bring me a sense of joy that doesn’t compare to anything I have experienced before.
What does it mean to live life to the fullest?
In life, we make so many mistakes growing up and too often we are our worst critics. Living life to the fullest is stepping out in faith and taking those risky chances to set and achieve goals no matter how unachievable we think they might seem. Every unachieved goal is not a loss, it’s a lesson learned and all the more reason to celebrate life when we conquer goals we once thought were unattainable.
Thanks Margarita for the great interview! If you want to be interviewed by AbleThrive, share your story with us!