The 'We Carry Kevan' Project Is Changing How We View Accessibility

The 'We Carry Kevan' Project Is Changing How We View Accessibility

We should all do our part to make the world accessible.
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Kevan Chandler is a lover of travel, a beloved friend, and a man with spinal muscular atrophy. The disease keeps Chandler in a wheelchair, which made his desire to see non-accessible areas in Europe unlikely for him to ever achieve. However, his friends were determined to not let Chandler miss out on this trip.

For a year Chandler's friends developed a backpack to carry him and were able to raise the donations needed in order to produce the backpack and take the trip. They titled the initiative 'We Carry Kevan' and brought the idea to life in the summer of 2016, begining their inspiring journey around Europe.

The question of whether the locations they wanted to visit were wheelchair accessible was no longer an issue because Chandler’s friends took it upon themselves to trade off carrying their friend on their own backs.The friends' story spread across the internet and more people became interested in their product and project. The group explained that their goal is

“to inspire both the disabled and able-bodied communities to reimagine accessibility, then empower this change by providing resources and training for collaborative adventures.”

Chandler believes that even though making locations accessible through the use of elevators and ramps is helpful to people with disabilities, he states that true accessibility comes from “people helping people.” For me, this statement completely changed my mind on how I thought the world should evolve to be accessible for everyone. I previously had only seen accessibility through the lens of creating accessible infrastructure without ever considering the pivotal role that we all play in our human interaction.

Just like how we all do our best to help the able-bodied people in our life, we should do the same for those who are disabled. Chandler and his friends showed me that the world instantly becomes more accessible when people that can move freely use their ability to help disabled people do the same.

Now Chandler and his friends are on their way to China in support of Snow Hope, which is an organization that makes care centers for orphans with disabilities throughout China. “We Carry Kevan” plans on supplying the care centers through the backpacks that they created, as a way to promote accessibility within the community. The group will be traveling to Guilin, Luoyang, and Beijing. They have also created a GoFundMe page to help cover the expenses for their trip.

I am eager to see what Chandler and his friends will be able to accomplish in China and also how their work will influence people around the world. It is creative solutions like theirs that improve the lives of others and I am sure that we will all be seeing more from them in the future.

Cover Image Credit: We Carry Kevan

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7 Things You Do If You’re One Of Those 'I Always Order Chicken Tenders' People

It's hard to love food but also hate it at the same time.

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Growing up, my mom would usually have to cook me a separate dinner from my siblings. Why? Because I was ridiculously picky and wouldn't eat the same foods as everyone else. Trust me, it gets old. It's not my fault certain things just taste gross, you learn to live with it.

1. You eat something you hate just to see if you still hate it

I'll take a bite of a burger every once in a while just to reaffirm that it still tastes like dirt. I just have to know. Don't even get me started on vegetables.

2. When trying to explain what you actually like to eat, people give you major side eye

Don't ask me about my eating habits unless you want to get into a long, confusing conversation.

3. Eating at someone else’s house when you were younger was a pain

You hate to tell their parents just how much you hate the food that they gave you. So, you sucked it up and ate it anyway only to come home and whine to your parents.

4. There’s one thing on any menu you always fall back on...even if it’s on the kids menu

Pizza, maybe. Chicken tenders, always.

5. Trying a new food is a very proud moment

It's like, wow! Look at me being all adventurous.

6. When you realize you actually like some new food, that’s an even more amazing moment

Crazy times. This rarely happens.

7. Sometimes it’s the texture, sometimes it’s the flavor, all the time it’s left on your plate

Oops. At restaurants it's either left on your plate or your order is very specified.

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The Saying 'Traveling Changes Your Perspective' Isn't Just A Cliché

Experiencing the aura of another country doesn't compare to anything else.

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If I had a dollar for every time someone said "Traveling changed me," well...you get the idea. I'd be rich.

We always hear this, and if you're anything like me, the statement probably just blows over your head because you've heard it so many times, or you think everyone is overexaggerating. However, I came to realize that it's something you simply don't understand until you experience it yourself.

Over this past winter break, I traveled overseas to Barcelona, my first time in Europe. Of course, you prepare for how "different" things are going to be in terms of basic travel planning like currency, weather. Those sorts of things. You get lost in travel planning: booking tours, making reservations at the best restaurant spots, but what you don't realize is how amazing it is to simply get to experience and get lost in the general mood of a new place.

Getting to experience life outside of the U.S. and seeing what other parts of the world value is incredible.

While unfortunately, there's some level of poverty and inequality no matter where you go, the way many of the locals presented their outlook on life was amazing.

We went to a small bar on one of the first nights, and ended up going back two more nights (once on our last night because we had to say goodbye) because we had great conversations with the bartenders. They told us how throughout many parts of Spain, there are people who aren't as well off as others, but that everyone lives with what they have, and they make the most of it and always put happiness above all. They said part of this ability for the general population in their country to remain stable and happy, is that people who are very wealthy rarely show it.

They acknowledged that of course, there is inequality in terms of what opportunities are available to what groups of people, but that those who do live very comfortably always stay humble. They told us how, sometimes, they can tell based on how customers present themselves in terms of how they respond to the workers and carry themselves, that they're from North America and carry more materialistic items.

In many parts of Spain, they said materialistic items aren't necessarily as valued or prioritized, which also explains the happy essence that Barcelona seemed to radiate: Strangers would say hello to each other the streets, stop to give each other directions, or just to spark up a friendly conversation; something I never see in Chicago. Instead, everyone is on the go, with their heads down or headphones in.

Family comes first always, they said. Sure, jobs and money are taken seriously, but they're not always the number one priority, and neither is having expensive things. If you have a roof over your head, food on the table, and are lucky enough to spend time with your loved ones every day, then that is something they celebrate every day.

It was eye-opening to see how much the constant "on the go" lifestyle in America compared to many of the people we encountered in Spain, and how that's reflected in the cultural values of the U.S.

Seeing small businesses close every day for a few hours for people to home for their "siestas" and family time was amazing and was a true representation of everything that the wonderful bartenders explained to us.

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