At Together We Rock! we are excited about the possibilities around us. Our founder, John Draper shares with us one of the best days of his life that began our journey.
After I graduated from high school, my mind went wild with all the possibilities of what lay ahead – where would I go to college? What would I study? How would I make my mark on the world? With a love of writing, I quickly decided to study journalism, with the goal of becoming a restaurant critic. Hey, I love to eat, so it seemed like the only logical choice!
It was during my time at college that I became increasingly aware that society perhaps wasn’t as accessible to people with disabilities as I had been led to believe. Sure, in my elementary and high school years I had experienced some challenges in gaining access to events and being excluded from activities. But in college, I was much more exposed to the bigger world.
Although there had been great advances for equality, stereotypes and discrimination still existed to a far greater extent than I had imagined. And as I became more independent, accessibility was proving to be a challenge. An unfortunate trip down a set of stairs in my wheelchair convinced me that the world was in serious need of a better solution. My world seemed very unsettled. I needed to take action to bring about some positive change.
One of my professors suggested that I do a class presentation on disability and the media’s portrayal (which wasn’t always positive). In my presentation, I touched on research findings, practical examples, my own life experiences and my quirky sense of humour to get my message across.
The response to the presentation was overwhelmingly positive and my peers showed a great deal of interest in building accessible and inclusive communities. And so, one presentation led to another, which led to another.
At the end of of one of my presentations, a fellow student came over to thank me for speaking so honestly about my thoughts. “Hey man,” he said. “You rock!” He shared with me some of the things he was going to do differently in an effort to promote a more accessible and inclusive community. I was so moved by his enthusiasm and impressed by his ideas, I simply said, “Together, we rock!”
It was suddenly very clear that I was no longer going to become a restaurant critic...