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Filmmaker creates short film about service-oriented woman with paralysis

By Megan Marsden Christensen  |  Posted Feb 5th, 2015 @ 10:01am


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HEBER — Meg Johnson became paralyzed in 2004 after she accidentally jumped off a cliff while hiking, and now, she says, if she had to do it all over again she would jump willingly.

When local filmmaker Scott Wilhite heard Johnson, now a motivational speaker, author and mother, say this in a video interview with Seth Adam Smith, he was determined to share her story as a part of his upcoming mobile application that focuses on positive psychology, Feed Your Happy.

Johnson became paralyzed from the chest down, after her hiking accident in St. George. During a long stay in the hospital, she had to relearn basic skills such as brushing her teeth by herself, Johnson told ksl.com.

After returning home, she would spend her days sitting on the back porch, watching the grass grow, she said in the video. Negative thoughts began to enter her mind, Johnson told KSL.com.

“'I used to dance, I used to work, I used to flirt, and now I can’t do any of that,'” Johnson said of the negative thoughts. “I mean, I guess I can still flirt, but it doesn’t come across that way when you’re in a wheelchair.”

Johnson then decided to make her time more useful by serving her community.

Soon, she was spending her days listening to second-grade students read their library books to her as she’d cheer them on in their efforts, Johnson said in the video interview.

“That opened up some windows and help me understand I was still useful,” Johnson told ksl.com.

As she began healing, she joined a rugby team, participated in Miss Wheelchair America, graduated from college, got married and had a baby. She and her husband also restarted Miss Wheelchair Utah.

“I don’t know why (service) works, I just know that it does,” Johnson said. “It’s so liberating for me when I’m feeling so trapped and down and sad.”


I don't know why (service) works, I just know that it does. It's so liberating for me when I'm feeling so trapped and down and sad.

–Meg Johnson


Monday, Wilhite’s short film “Falling Up” was published on his website ncourage.tv and YouTube. The film focuses on Johnson’s story and her motivation to serve.

The Feed Your Happy app will feature “Falling Up” in addition to three other local short films. The app aims to teach people how to attain the skill of happiness. It will include a journaling section and exercises, tips, quotes and challenges related to positive psychology.

Wilhite said although he was a successful filmmaker, he wasn’t really happy before he started practicing active, enthusiastic gratitude.

“Finding out that happiness was attainable for me was mind-blowing to me,” Wilhite said. “It totally changed my life and basically all I’m doing is sharing what I’ve found.”

The app is currently in development and will be available for download in early June for about $3.99. Feed Your Happy can be preordered now by visiting the website, Wilhite said.

“By practicing the skills of being grateful, actively, enthusiastically grateful, suddenly I could feel the spark of happiness in me that I can enjoy every day,” Wilhite said. “That changed me and that’s what’s motivated me to do that project.”

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