I recently had the opportunity to talk with a group of students at Azalea Drive Church of Christ in North Charleston, S.C. The church has a youth mentoring program for students who are in middle and high schools.
I talked with the group of about 15 students on what it’s like to go to school, go to work and have a social life while living with a disability. I explained that people with disabilities want to be included in the community and participate in activities just as much as anyone else.
I demonstrated the different features of my chair that allow me to be more independent. The seat elevation feature allows me to raise the seat up to eight inches to be at eye level with someone who is standing. I can also reach items that are in kitchen cabinets. Since I’m in my chair all day, the tilt and recline functions allow me to take undue pressure off my back and hips.
The students enjoyed seeing my tripod set-up for my chair. I showed them how I can attach and detach my camera. I also showed them the video of me driving. After my presentation, I showed them my van and how it works. They were impressed to see that I could operate the the vehicle with the touch screen and joystick. I shared that the process for me to obtain my driver’s licence was lengthy, but it was definitely worth the wait.
The students had great questions. They were interested in learning about my daily routine. I mentioned that I needed assistance with bathing, dressing and transferring into my wheelchair. One person in the group wants to work with students with disabilities. Another student mentioned an interest in media and photography.
It was rewarding to spend time with the students and their advisors. I enjoy sharing my experiences with others so they can understand what it’s like to be independent while living with a disability.