My dream of reconnecting with my heritage and studying abroad in Italy as a college junior was abruptly shattered when I learned that the streets of Florence and the sites of Rome couldn’t handle a wheelchair. I have cerebral palsy, and though I’m ambulatory, I use an electric wheelchair to get around campus and avoid fatigue.
Like many obstacles I’ve encountered, I anticipated study abroad to require more effort than the average person on my end, but that I’d ultimately be able to do it. After the applications, acceptance and realization that my dream of going to Italy was about to become a reality, the directors of my program highly recommended that I don’t go that semester because they couldn’t immediately make the proper accommodations due to Italy’s inaccessible nature. With one call, my dream had deteriorated simply because of my disability.
Finding out for myself:
The feeling of injustice that filled me that day hasn’t dissipated in the slightest. The obstacles that hindered my quest to my family’s homeland must be exposed. What better way for me to explore the extent and the reasons for why modern Europe is so inaccessible than for me to take my electric wheelchair and document my European travels? This documentary would not only feature my own experiences, but also contain extensive investigative journalism, searching for reasons why such a modern society hasn’t felt the need to accommodate its disabled citizens and how they cope with these obstacles. My personal anecdotes will just be the beginning, as I search for answers.
I have received a grant from the George Washington University to go to Europe on winter break of this year to film this documentary. However, the funds will only cover travel expenses for me and my cameraman for about a week. I need between two and three weeks in Europe to fill this project's potential. We already have several interviews lined up for January with leading disability advocates and plan on profiling several European citizens who use wheelchairs to find out how they get around on a daily basis. Your donations will allow us to shoot those extra days, as we travel everywhere from Brussels to Paris on our quest for accessibility in Europe.
- (45 days)