Having traveled through Europe as a ‘human backpack’, Kevan Chandler and his friends challenge preconceptions of what is possible for the differently-abled.
Overcoming inaccessibility: the seven friends designed a rucksack to carry Kevan on their backs
In the summer of 2015, a group of friends decided to set out on an adventure together. They wanted to go to Europe, but it was going to be a bit trickier than just that, as one of them was in a wheelchair. Kevan Chandler was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a neuromuscular disease which limits his mobility, and the group wanted to visit some specific places that were not exactly handicap accessible. The seven friends spent a year working toward their goal to travel, including a fundraiser and designing a backpack to carry Kevan on their backs.
The future and the bigger picture? Accessibility for everyone, everywhere
As plans for the trip came together, the story spread. Word got out about a new backpack for disabled folks and some guys who were breaking the mould of accessibility. People from all over the world reached out to team, asking about the backpack and travel experience. Whether it was inquiries for help or how to get involved, the conversations circulated and a need became clear. There are limitations set on the disabled community, based on social and personal expectations.
Kevan and the team saw two things that needed to change: mindsets and opportunities. So, they are working toward these changes through the establishment of a nonprofit, appropriately named We Carry Kevan. The nonprofit aims to inspire both the disabled and able-bodied communities to reimagine accessibility, then empower this change by providing resources and training for collaborative adventures.
The group saw an opportunity to achieve something bigger
Kevan Chandler has a disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy which leaves him bound to a wheelchair and limited use of his arms and legs.
Kevan’s ability to travel was limited to places that were wheelchair friendly, but, with the help of some determined friends, Kevan got to fulfil his dream of seeing Europe and is soon to visit China. Using a makeshift backpack, Kevan’s friends carried him around England, Ireland and France, visiting places that are usually inaccessible to people in a wheelchair.
Kevan refuses to let his disability define him. “There is a reality that we [Kevan and his sister] are disabled. It’s not a bad word, it’s not a misconception, we can’t walk. I’ll refer to myself as a cripple. I don’t care because that’s what I am, but I also realise that that’s just a part of who I am, that’s not entirely who I am, so I’m not defined by the wheelchair that I’m in or the strength that I have.”
“We can’t do this alone, whether it’s a trip or it’s life, nobody can do it on their own, so, we need each other.”
Donate now to WeCarryKevan and help others broaden their horizons
Now, the team is helping those they've inspired to have adventures of their own and live the impossible. You are invited to be part of the story. Just as the friends carried Kevan, let's go on to carry others together.