A 14-year-old boy proposed a challenge for Tennessee lawmakers, and they took him up on it. Alex Johnson, who has a rare skeletal disorder, uses a wheelchair. The 8th grader wanted lawmakers to understand what it's like to do daily activities in a wheelchair, so he challenged them to "spend a day in my wheels."
State Representative Clark Boyd heard Johnson's call to action and organized the event at the Tennessee House of Representatives. In total, 10 members of the House agreed to use wheelchairs for a day at the office, according to a press release from the Tennessee House Republican Caucus.
"I expected it to be difficult, but I had no idea how frustrating it could be to just simply get around," Boyd said in the press release. "It's really been an eye-opening experience."
Johnson, who started his own "Team ALeX" organization to help make the world more inclusive, used a walker until first grade, when he got a wheelchair. A few years later, he came up with the "Spend a Day in My Wheels" challenge to show his classmates the world from his perspective.
"I designed Spend a Day in My Wheels to raise awareness for people with mobility devices," said Johnson, who attends Friendship Christian School in Lebanon, Tennessee. "My challenge gives people a real-life perspective of the difficulties wheelchair users face on a daily basis. My hope is that through my challenge we can make the world more accessible."
The Permobil Foundation lent Team ALeX a fleet of wheelchairs for the representatives participating in his challenge. Photos from that day show the members going to meetings and interacting with each other in their borrowed wheelchairs.
"Our whole community is very supportive of Alex and proud of the effort he's made to create greater understanding about what it's like to live with a disability," Boyd said. "He's an amazing young man who has found a way to use his disability as an ability to educate others."