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.