With such a small percentage of disabled people leaving their homes, I rarely have an opportunity to see another like me in the course of my travels. It is for this reason that I started WheelchairTravel.org. I want the disabled communities in America and around the world to come out of the shadows and claim their right to access a fuller life experience. I have always said that nothing is impossible. I am not sure I truly believed that, though. Not until I met Chen Zhou last year.
China was never the place I anticipated meeting a disabled person who would inspire me. I had been to the country several times before, but had rarely seen people in wheelchairs. Imagine my surprise in meeting Chen while I was passing through People’s Square in Shanghai. He was singing as a street performer just one block from my hotel. He is a man who should be in a wheelchair, but has such a desire to maintain his independence, he moves around on his hands and travels by motor scooter. He made me realize that my dream of opening the world to everyone can be realized.
Chen has no legs. He drives a scooter, sings as a street performer, unloads and packs his gear — all independently. He also climbs mountains, something I learned after returning home to the United States. Take a look at this video I took at one of his performances in November 2014. Watching this, how could you not be inspired? How could you ever deem anything “impossible” again?
Thank you, Chen Zhou, for opening my world a bit more. It was a true pleasure to meet you.
Interested in visiting China? Read about wheelchair accessible Shanghai!