Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Suess) wrote, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
As Cam has continued to grow, we knew a modification to his room would be needed at some point. We were finally able to obtain quotes for a ceiling track system but really wanted to see one in action. Our drive to Zeeland had that goal in mind. We met Erica, a 14-year old in a power wheelchair just like Cam. She has a ceiling track system that goes from her bedroom to her bathroom. Jane asked if she could sit in it and use it to understand how it worked. Cam thought this was a great idea. We were able to ask lots of questions and obtained plenty of information in the process.
The house we were touring also had an elevator! They built their home eight years ago and purposefully designed it with their daughter in mind. Erica explained that when she was little, she loved princess fairies. An artist painted the beautiful trees and princesses you're able to see as you travel up or down. We agreed that this was the coolest elevator our family had ever been in.
While we were all chatting, we noticed an unusual sticker on Erica's tray. It had a QR code which we discovered was for Disartnow.org. She told us all about it and we looked up the rest.
DisArt believes that expressions of a disability culture can transform communities from awareness, to understanding, to belonging, ensuring the full and equitable participation of all disabled people. Working as a production company, consulting group, and community developer, DisArt has established and maintained a recognizable presence in the global understanding of Disability Art and Culture. With unprecedented success in artistic programming and community impact, DisArt has positively shaped and influenced the cultural and aesthetic rendering of physical and mental differences in Grand Rapids. Cam's favorite part is an "Accessibility Map" of Grand Rapids that shows places people have tagged as inaccessible and provided a picture. You also have the option to "tag" a location that is not accessible. Sometimes it is so surprising when we discover a vital piece of information that we didn't have.
Erica also introduced us to her service dog, Reesa, who took a liking to Cam. After asking our son if it was ok for the canine to be on Cam's legs, he obliged and Reesa immediately had her paws on Cam's lap.
When we said goodbye after spending a couple of hours together, we felt more informed and a bit of relief after seeing the ceiling track system in action and hearing Erica's feedback.
After all, it was Robert Boyce who said, "Knowledge is power. Knowledge shared is power multiplied."
This week, Cam and his mom met with Dr. Lisa, a PT professor at GVSU, in a virtual zoom session. Dr. Lisa will be a part of a remote conference with people in Australia and New Zealand next month. She asked if she could interview Jane and her son to discuss power mobility. The session was recorded and we had fun answering her questions. Cam had great insight and when asked about a grade for accessibility in the community, he gave his community a "C" but also added this input: