Boy with a disability teaches lawmakers a powerful lesson

Alex Johnson is a 14-year-old boy who is on a mission to make others understand what it’s like to live with a disability. Thanks to his dedication, his state representatives have had their perspectives changed forever.

The USA has come a long way in regards to supporting those with disabilities. But society still needs to do a lot of work.

Sammi_jane_solicitor/Instagram Source: Sammi_jane_solicitor/Instagram

2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The ADA brought in some vital rights for people with disabilities. For instance, employers have to provide accommodations and public places must make their areas accessible. But even 30 years later, people discriminate against those with disabilities every single day.

The problem is that most people who do not have a disability struggle to understand what it’s like to be disabled. But Alex Johnson might be able to change that.

Team ALeX/Facebook Source: Team ALeX/Facebook

Alex Johnson is 14, and for almost his entire life, he’s been using a wheelchair. He has skeletal dysplasia, which affects bone and cartilage growth.

Luckily, Alex has grown up with a loving family. So when people first started treating him differently because of his disability, he was shocked.

Eventually, Alex came up with a way to make other people understand the plight of the disabled. He decided that people should stop imagining what it was like to live with a disability and actually do it, at least for a day.

Team ALeX/Facebook Source: Team ALeX/Facebook

He has made the “Spend a Day in My Wheels” challenge. It does exactly what it says. People have to spend the day in a wheelchair and understand what life is like if you’re disabled.

Many of the people in Alex’s school have taken the challenge. And they all have said that it completely opened their eyes. Other people in Alex’s community then took up the challenge. After taking the challenge, they all resolved to treat disabled people with much more respect.

In fact, Alex’s challenge became so popular that people kept on requesting the Tennessee House of Representatives to take it up. Eventually, some of them agreed to do it.

Team ALex/Facebook Source: Team ALex/Facebook

Alex contacted Representative Clark Boyd. He explained to him his challenge. Boyd thought that the teenager was inspiring and sought out other representatives to give the challenge a try.

Nine other members of the Tennessee House of Representatives agreed to spend the entire day in a wheelchair.

Clark Boyd-State Representative District 46/Facebook Source: Clark Boyd-State Representative District 46/Facebook

For 24 hours, the 10 representatives went to meetings, traveled to and from work and undertook social activities in the wheelchairs.

By the end of the day, they all admitted that they struggled to get from place to place. They also realized how things like opening doors could present a challenge.

“I expected it to be difficult, but I had no idea how frustrating it could be to just simply get around. It’s really been an eye-opening experience.” – Representative Clark Boyd.

Clark Boyd-State Representative District 46/Facebook Source: Clark Boyd-State Representative District 46/Facebook

The representatives that tried out Alex’s challenge will always remember that day. It will certainly inform their future proposals, votes and other legislative actions.

Hopefully, more politicians will take up the Spend a Day in My Wheels Challenge. It may seem insignificant right now. But it could lead to major decisions that improve the lives of disabled people everywhere.

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Today I, along with nine of my colleagues in the Tennessee House of Representatives, participated in the Team ALex…

Posted by Clark Boyd-State Representative District 46 onTuesday, February 11, 2020

Source: Clark Boyd-State Representative District 46, Team ALeX