Monday, August 3, 2015

Introducing Wheelchaired for a Day

So, here's what's been going on: We've launched a new project over the weekend. After two days of publicity for it it I'm already positively exhausted. Our first big campaign that came together more as an afterthought designed to tie all  the other ideas that we have for the Florida Disability Access and Awareness Foundation together. We've struggled a bit with that form of narrative and transition - how do we go from one project to the next and to the next in a way that seem natural and have that obvious flow. The solution was suggested by our friends at The Hippodrome Theatre, one of the most established and respected cultural institutions in Central Florida. Make people experience it first hand. Show them what it's like. In the time that it takes to fundraise for your next project, have people spend 24 hours with a wheelchair. One person per day. And then the next. And then the next. Every experience will be different, but hopefully it will result in some greater understating, appreciation of their mobility and challenges and what it must be like to be, well.... someone like me. All my life I've been trying to explain my hardships- like if I was late because of the bus or the weather, and yes as you say it, people kind of get that it's difficult, but not really. You can try to talk about it, or just make others experience it,  if only for a day. I was originally about to retire my old wheelchair last month, so our original idea was to pass it on from person to person to literally have them walk a mile in my shoes or should I say wheel a mile in my chair. My replacement didn't come in as early as I had hoped- and I don't think I would have felt comfortable giving someone my old chair anyway, given the pitiful shape it's in. 11 years old and shows. So instead, we reached to Danny Leibach who fitted me for my Kuschall eons ago and his equipment distribution company, NuMotion provided us with a wheelchair for the month. A folding and light "Quickie" brand product. I personally go for the rigid, active and sport models, but this actually might be a better solution for a casual user. A good compromise between speed, durability and light weight. With this campaign we reached out to students, politicians, artists, local celebrities, lawyers, anchors and actors but we also encourage them to challenge someone of their choice. If you  are in Gainesville and you want to experience something different, sign up by dropping us an email at And visit  We will interview you on film before and after, equip you with a GoPro HeroHD camera to put on your head and we will encourage you to take a lot of selfies and pictures, share your thoughts on social media, all  with a hashtag #Wheelchairedforaday. We are looking for a diverse group of participants, so why shouldn't you be next? Most importantly have fun doing it and pay attention. Every Wheelchaired day starts and ends at the wonderful Gallery of the Hippodrome Theatre in Downtown Gainesville. The Hipp and its staff have been extremely supportive through this, and I will not lie by saying that it's my favorite place to check out a plays in town. I see a production every month and a movie every week. It's good to see an organization with a shared vision for the community. Our challenge is just starting, but we'll be there on most days.  Join us, you know you want to.

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