The 2020 Word of the Year

Pandemic. It’s a word that has dominated our lives this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has truly impacted everyone’s life in one way or another, so it’s no surprise that Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com have declared “pandemic” the Word of the Year.

For electric wheelchair users and individuals with disabilities, the pandemic has changed many aspects of their daily lives. Working from home has suddenly become the norm. Accessibility has expanded in ways never thought possible. Masks are worn in all public spaces and for electric wheelchair users, cleaning and disinfecting power wheelchairs has become a lot more involved.

Working from Home in a Pandemic

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been mandated that any individuals who can work from home should do so. This is a great step forward for the disability community. Individuals with chronic illnesses, disabilities or narrow electric wheelchair users often request remote work due to transportation barriers, medical appointments or other health reasons. Unfortunately, people with disabilities have often struggled to win the reasonable accommodation to work remotely. No longer! Today, everyone is encouraged to work remotely and it has proven that people are able to be productive when working from home. Furthermore, it has demonstrated that working from home can occur on a long-term basis.

Wheelchair Accessibility Problems Turn into Solutions

Because the pandemic requires all individuals to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19, this mandate has solved many accessibility problems for narrow electric wheelchair users or people with disabilities. In terms of socializing, we utilize video chat programs such as Zoom or FaceTime to connect with loved ones. This new way of socializing has taken a lot of the stress off narrow electric wheelchair users, who don’t have to worry about accessibility when going to a friend or family member’s house or eating out at a restaurant. For many states, mail-in voting has become the norm due to the pandemic, and individuals with transportation barriers or chronic illnesses can exercise their right to vote easily with a mail-in ballot. These are just a few examples of how wheelchair accessibility problems have become solutions in 2020.

Disinfecting Wheelchairs and Wheelchair Cleaning Checklist

Due to the coronavirus, narrow electric wheelchair users must take greater precautions beyond washing their hands for twenty seconds. As an extension of their bodies, individuals should clean and disinfect their power wheelchairs daily. When disinfecting power wheelchairs, individuals should use EPA-approved wipes that contain an alcohol solution of at least 70 percent. If you don’t have wipes, the CDC recommends a spray bottle with one quart of water and four teaspoons of bleach. For electronic components on your power chair, we recommend silicon-based cleaners to avoid causing damage to the electronics. Check out our wheelchair cleaning checklist for more tips. While all this extra cleaning has certainly been challenging, it’s necessary to make sure that individuals with power chairs stay safe.


Wheelchair Accessories for the New Year

As the year 2020 winds down, everyone is looking toward 2021 with anticipation and hope. A new year means new year resolutions and new possibilities. As a narrow electric wheelchair user, you might consider making some important purchases for your narrow electric wheelchair. There are many motorized wheelchair accessories available: from storage options to LED lighting. Get the lowdown on each and decide whether you need some motorized wheelchair accessories to make 2021 the best year yet!

Power Wheelchair Backpack

Power Wheelchair Backpack

Quantum Rehab® knows the importance of having plenty of storage space available. Wheelchair storage bags are a great choice. If you have a Quantum® Power Chair with TRU-Balance® 3 Power Positioning Systems, consider purchasing the Quantum glove box, which attaches easily to the arm of your power chair. The personal item hook is another storage option and a great way to keep your purse or backpack within easy reach.

Speaking of backpacks, have you seen the new Quantum power wheelchair backpack? Made from extremely durable material, this backpack offers an insulated cooler pouch and plenty of volume to store all your possessions that you need to take with you when on the go. Each zipper on this backpack is equipped with a pull hook, perfect for individuals who have limited dexterity.

Wheelchair Safety Lights

Wheelchair Safety Lights

Why not light up the new year with some front and rear LED fender lights on your narrow electric wheelchair? Each switch-operated LED light is mounted to the fender above the drive tire on each side of the power chair. Quantum’s LED lights are ultra slim, delivering excellent compactness and durability. Seeing and being seen has never been easier. Now you can travel around at night with peace of mind and know that cars, pedestrians and cyclists will see you coming.

Motorized Wheelchair Backup Camera

Motorized Wheelchair Backup Camera

Many narrow electric wheelchair users understand the struggle of seeing what’s behind them when reversing. The motorized wheelchair backup camera from Quantum removes the guesswork! Whether you are reversing in your kitchen or at the mall, the Quantum backup camera promotes safety with a rear viewing angle of 170 degrees. Never worry about hitting door frames, small children or family pets. You can see what’s behind you with the 3.5-inch display that can be mounted on the armrest or the side rails for total convenience. Best of all, the backup camera from Quantum offers infrared capabilities for use at night.

Ready to Purchase?

Ready to purchase some motorized wheelchair accessories for the new year? Just reach out to your Quantum dealer today and let them know you wish to purchase some power wheelchair accessories. They can assist you!

The Benefits of Technology When Transferring to a Medical Exam Table

Many of us who use wheelchairs find it very difficult to transfer in a medical setting, such as transferring to an exam table or MRI table. Quite often, these medical tables or equipment are too high for transferring from a manual or power wheelchair. This is where iLevel® technology comes in handy.

How iLevel Aids in Transferring

Last month, I needed to have an MRI. I am so thankful that my power wheelchair has power adjustable seat height. iLevel’s Extra Stability Technology® enhances safety for many daily activities, including reaching, cooking, grooming and transferring. I elevated my power chair 12 inches and safely transferred from my power chair to the MRI table. It would have been a difficult task for me to do this if I did not have iLevel.

The Need for Accessible Medical Equipment

People with disabilities experience a higher prevalence of preventable disease and poorer health outcomes compared to the general population. Yet, adults with disabilities continue to face significant physical barriers. These physical impediments prevent access to health care, which results in healthcare needs being unfulfilled. One of the most significant barriers is the absence of accessible diagnostic equipment.

Although some physicians and medical facilities have accessible exam tables, many in rural areas where I live do not. Quite honestly, the MRI table is one of the least accessible pieces of medical equipment you could transfer onto. I was fortunate to have seat elevation to aid me in transferring.

Advocating for Power Adjustable Seat Height

To me, seat elevation should be on everyone’s power chair. It is used in many ways in our homes and in our communities.  One of the things that we’re working on continuously at Quantum is to educate the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid on the importance of power adjustable seat height, like iLevel. This crucial piece of technology helps so many people with disabilities complete daily activities, including accessing medical equipment.

About Madonna Long: Madonna works as a disability advocate to educate policymakers and congressional leaders on disability issues. She uses an Edge 3 Power Wheelchair for mobility. She is a mother to four children and lives life on her terms, despite a spinal cord injury. Click here to learn more about Madonna.

For more great blogs from our brand ambassadors and Q Roll Models, visit lifeatilevel.com today!

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She’s at the Head of the Class with iLevel Technology

She is a mother, a professor and a strong disabled woman. These are just some of the roles that Dr. Kara Ayers has embraced. Although she has many interests, Kara is most passionate about disability advocacy. She believes that all individuals with disabilities must have access to healthcare and the equipment they need to live their lives fully.

Born with osteogenesis imperfecta, Kara’s bones break easily. Previously, she used a manual wheelchair for mobility. As she got older, Kara discovered the benefits of different types of mobility equipment, including power wheelchairs. Today, Kara uses a Stretto Power Chair with iLevel® technology.

Why She Loves Her Power Wheelchair

“I love the iLevel option for reaching things and the chance to change my height according to what I’m doing,” Kara said. “I like that I can hold or pull things while I drive my power chair.”

With iLevel on her power wheelchair, Kara has been able to organize things around her home. She can access many areas of her kitchen, including the top of the refrigerator and the stove.  

“I’m seeing things I’ve never seen in my own home,” Kara said. “It’s so cool!”

iLevel has provided Kara with many social benefits as well. She can participate in conversations and look family and friends in the eye. Best of all, Kara loves hugging her daughter while she is standing next to her.

Making a Difference for People with Disabilities

As an associate professor at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Kara appreciates how her job is different every day. In her role, Kara analyzes disability policy, teaches and mentors students and conducts research. Kara is very proud of her professional accomplishments, which include presenting a Tedx Talk in December of 2019. In 2021, Kara spoke to the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Equity Taskforce about the need for people with disabilities to access the COVID-19 vaccine.

As for her personal life, Kara is most proud of her family.

“My greatest accomplishments are my three kids and the life my husband and I have built and are building for them,” Kara said.

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My Wonderful Trip to the Accessible Florida Keys

With the insane number of COVID-19 cases rising, especially in New Jersey, I’m sure everybody is feeling the same way about traveling. When can we go on a vacation again safely? It seemed impossible. After some careful consideration, however, my parents decided to pack up our stuff, get into our minivan and drive as far south as possible. We knew getting on a plane was risky, yet the thought of staying home during winter break felt suffocating. We decided to drive someplace warm and quiet. Surprisingly, we made it all the way to Florida and ended up in the Keys. The Florida Keys are at the southernmost point of the state. It was absolutely beautiful! It felt like we had just gotten off the plane were in the Caribbean. I have been to Orlando before, but this was a completely different island vibe!

Being that it was such a last-minute trip, we were nervous about how well I woud get around in my Quantum® Edge 3 Stretto® Power Wheelchair. We assumed that because the Florida Keys was an older area and developed so long ago, there wouldn’t be many accessible options. We were pleasantly surprised!

Accessible Hotel Rooms

There were ramps everywhere and the resort and hotel made it so that I had the best time possible. Every single pool in the area had a transfer chair to help disabled people get into the pool with ease. The restaurants all had proper accommodations and there was accessible parking everywhere. The hotel we stayed at gave us a room that had shower chair so I could easily shower. Normally, it is very difficult to shower when I’m on vacation because there’s no room for my shower chair. The hotel that we stayed at however gave us everything we needed to have a comfortable visit. Surprisingly there weren’t many people around. Since we could stay outdoors for most of the day, it was a very safe way for me to take a vacation.

Going to the Beach with My Stretto Motorized Wheelchair

I quickly discovered that because the sand on the beach was so tightly compact, my Stretto Power Wheelchair, which is quite heavy, could roam the entire beach without getting stuck. I spent days going from one end of the beach to the other. It was such a surreal feeling. This is something that I’ve never been able to do before. We also visited Anne’s Beach, which had a mat from the boardwalk running to the very edge of the ocean. I could practically put my feet into the ocean from my power wheelchair. Although I didn’t get to experience it, there are accessible boat charters where you can actually take your motorized wheelchair onto a boat and go visit the smaller islands.

Overall, I think the Florida Keys are an overlooked vacation spot. For those of us with disabilities, it truly is a game changer. I’m so glad we made the decision to take the drive and enjoy the great weather, beautiful scenery and easy access to everywhere I wanted to go. 

About Sakina Shamsi: Sakina lives in New Jersey with her parents and brother. Although she has spinal muscular atrophy type II, Sakina lives a full and independent lifestyle. She is active in the disability community and enjoys horseback riding, baking and crafting. Click here to learn more about Sakina.

For more great blogs from our brand ambassadors and Q Roll Models, visit lifeatilevel.com today!

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Alison Chancellor: Keeping Her Head Up at iLevel®

Wayne Gretzky once said that you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. In living life, Alison Chancellor always takes her best shot.

I have the ability to do whatever and go wherever I want, with the help of my new Edge 3 Stretto,” Alison said.

Why She Loves Her Stretto Power Wheelchair

Born with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, Alison needs a power chair to maintain her independence. Thanks to the Stretto’s ultra-narrow width, she can easily pass through doorways and has a better turning radius in elevators. Plus, until she got her Stretto, Alison never had hip guides on her power wheelchair. Spasticity can disrupt her positioning where she is no longer at a 90-degree angle.

Alison in her Stretto Motorized Wheelchair with iLevel

“The hip guides help tremendously,” Alison said. “My chair is more comfortable than the couch!”

Alison also loves the benefits of iLevel® technology. She can go to her hairdresser and enjoy being pampered.

“iLevel helps when I get my hair colored and cut because my stylist can ask me to raise myself, without any need for weird transfers on hair covered floors,” Alison said.

Living Life in Her Stretto Motorized Wheelchair

Alison is a hardcore hockey fan, as indicated by the design of her motorized wheelchair, with St. Louis Blues colors.

It’s under-stated, but still proves my love for St. Louis hockey, and it totally removes the medical aspect and why I need the chair.”

– Alison Chancellor

When she isn’t cheering on her favorite hockey team, Alison advocates for complex rehab technology. She is constantly approached about her motorized wheelchair and asked how it helps her.

The Stretto Power Wheelchair with custom St. Louis Blues colors

Recently, Alison attended the Stan Musial Awards, which honors the year’s greatest moments of sportsmanship and the biggest names in sports who embody class and character. The awards show aired on Christmas Day on CBS. For Alison, it was an amazing experience to roll down the red carpet while elevated at iLevel.

“It was a great night,” Alison said. “I could see over heads from my seat, so my view was not obstructed, and I could choose my beverage from the bar without being looked at differently.”

With a new year ahead of her, Alison looks forward to the future. Her parents are building her an apartment within their home, so she never has to move again. She can be close to her aging family and remain fully independent and live her life to the fullest, thanks her to Stretto with iLevel.

“I whole-heartedly believe that iLevel removes a lot of stereotypes and truly shows success and independence at the speed of life,” Alison said.

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My Awesome Experience at the Duke’s Mayo Bowl

Recently, I attended the Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., at the Bank of America Stadium, which is home to the Carolina Panthers. I saw one of my favorite teams, the North Carolina Tarheels, take on the South Carolina Gamecocks in the battle of the Carolinas.

Riding the Light Rail with My Power Wheelchair

To get to the game, I rode the light rail, which starts at the University of North Carolina. I took the light rail to Charlotte and got off at the stop just down the street from the stadium. Getting on the light rail was easy. With the narrow width of my Stretto Power Wheelchair, I easily boarded the train and was out of the way of other passengers. The trip took about 30 minutes, my excitement continuing to build During the journey.

Driving My Power Chair Over Sidewalks

After getting off the light rail, the journey to the stadium was relatively easy and took about 15 minutes. I drove my motorized wheelchair while elevated at 12 inches. Navigating the sidewalks was a breeze and thanks to the independent SRS, my ride was very smooth.

Entering the Stadium and Ordering Food with iLevel

When I entered the stadium, I was screened by security. Because I was elevated, they could check my power chair quickly and easily. I had my tickets on my phone, so thanks to iLevel, the volunteers didn’t need to bend over to scan my ticket.

After entering, my friend and I went to find our seats, which were right inside the gate. The seats were fantastic and gave us a great view. We sat at the 50-yard line behind the North Carolina sidelines. The atmosphere was excellent, and I got to be around other fans rooting for our team to come out on top. Ordering at the concession stand would have been a struggle if it weren’t for my Stretto Power Chair with iLevel technology. I rolled right up to place my order and could grab the food quickly because I was at the same level as the cashier.

Watching the Game with iLevel Technology

selective focus close up photo of brown wilson pigskin football on green grass
Photo by Jean-Daniel Francoeur on Pexels.com

The crowd stood up multiple times during pivotal points of the game, and my power chair allowed me to rise with them, so I could see the action and participate. Before having iLevel technology, this wouldn’t have happened. Instead, I would have been watching the action on the scoreboard. Now, I don’t have this problem. Plus, I received many compliments about the revolutionary technology of my motorized wheelchair. Bowl Season has always been important to me and has molded me into the fan I am today. The Tarheels were unable to get the win, but it was a great experience anyway, one that allowed me to take part in my favorite sport: college football.

After the game, I went sightseeing in Charlotte. Exploring the city was an exciting experience. The ride back home was a fun one. It allowed me to wind down from a busy day filled with football and cheering for my favorite team. I am excited to go to another bowl game next season.

About Bryson Foster: Bryson is a Friend of Quantum and lives in North Carolina. He advocates and raises funds for the development of treatments for muscular dystrophy. He loves sports and cheers for his favorite basketball team, the North Carolina Tar Heels.

For more great blogs from our brand ambassadors and Q Roll Models, visit lifeatilevel.com today!

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Looking for a New Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

Recently, my neighbors bought a new Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is an SUV. The technology in this vehicle is insane. So, I’ve decided it is time for me to get a new vehicle. Currently, I have a 2019 Ford Explorer SUV. It is equipped with a conversion and a ramp that comes out the one side. Because I use a power wheelchair, I’m pretty limited in what I can get, due to what vehicles the conversion companies choose. So, here are my options in terms of minivans: the Toyota Sienna, the Honda Odyssey or the Chrysler Pacifica.

Wheelchair Accessible Toyota Sienna

The Toyota Sienna gets 36 miles per gallon. It offers a side-entry power foldout ramp. It has an ultra-wide doorway opening, as well as a wider power wheelchair ramp. There is LED lighting that illuminates the interior of the vehicle, which is great when using the wheelchair ramp at night.

Power Wheelchair Accessible Honda Odyssey

The Honda Odyssey has a heavy duty in-floor ramp that stows out of sight when not in use. This keeps the doorway clear to make entry and exit easier for other passengers. You can easily remove the front driver and passenger seats. The wheelchair accessible Honda Odyssey also features cabin and ramp lighting for navigating at night.

Wheelchair Accessible Chrysler Pacifica

The Chrysler Pacifica is available with an automatic side-entry in-floor ramp or a foldout ramp. It has features that help you park, brake and alerts you of vehicles in your blind spot. It has an extra large door space and a huge interior for navigating with your power wheelchair.

Why I Chose the Chevrolet Traverse

Recently, conversion companies started doing SUVs and my Ford Explorer was the first. Unfortunately, they stopped making the Explorer. Now, they offer the Chevrolet Traverse. Don’t get me wrong. I love my Ford Explorer but I want the new stuff. When I looked at the Chevy Traverse, I was pretty impressed. I like the body style and its much bigger inside, especially in the compartment where my power wheelchair goes. Of course, the best part is all the new technology. There is a camera built into the rearview mirror. So, if you pack a lot of stuff inside the vehicle and can’t see out the back window, you just flip the mirror. The camera comes on and displays what is going on behind you so you can still see cars and people when backing up. It’s great!

I’m excited for my new ride. It’s a new year’s gift to myself!

About Bryan Anderson: Bryan grew up and resides in Illinois. Injured by an IED in October 2005, Bryan is one of the few triple amputees to survive his injuries in Iraq. He is an ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation and a spokesperson for USA Cares, which is focused on assisting post 9-11 veterans. Click here to learn more about Bryan.

For more great blogs from our brand ambassadors and Q Roll Models, visit lifeatilevel.com today!

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How My Love for Sewing Empowers Me

Sewing is something that has always been an interest of mine from a very young age. Almost everyone on my mother’s side of the family sewed or use to sew, at some point. I remember seeing both my aunt and my mother use my great grandmother’s old sewing machine. I believe that was the first machine I ever learned to sew on.

How I Got into Sewing

I was 14 when I got my first sewing machine as a birthday present, but I didn’t really pick up sewing seriously until I was 16. I had sewn one dress from a commercial pattern prior to not touching my machine for a good year or so, but that was nothing compared to what I’d be getting into. Since I was 12 years old, it was my dream to make costumes or cosplays. I attended my first anime/comic convention in 2016 and discovered the world of cosplay for the first time in person. I instantly knew that this would drive me to teach myself how to sew.

What is Cosplay?

Cosplay is where you dress up as your favorite character from anime, cartoons, movies, etc. I never really had the ambition to jump into cosplay. I saw it as a wonderful art form and a great form of self expression. I really loved the handmade costumes and thought what a flex it would be to wear the things you make. While I could have bought my costumes, I really wanted to make my own because of the deep connections I have with the characters. I really wanted to dedicate myself to the characters and I felt that making their outfits would bring me closer to that. There is nothing wrong with choosing not to make your costume though. This is just what drives me.

Learning to Make Different Garments

I quickly gained a lot of experience with making different types of garments. I love displaying my own sewing work on myself, but I really only got to do that at conventions. I honestly wanted to be able to wear my work whenever I wanted to, but not look out of place in a general setting.

While teaching myself how to sew over the last six years, I’ve taught myself a lot of things, including pattern drafting. I am a big fashion lover, from the Japanese kawaii styles to the goth/punk looks that I wear in between. I have a broad range!

In 2018, after a year and a half of sewing cosplays, I thought about my love for fashion and how I can make complicated costumes. Since I’m constantly tight on money, why don’t I make my own garments? And that is when another branch formed on my hobby tree! I became a bit more serious about making my own garments that I could wear every day, in between working on my cosplays.

Types of Garments I Learned to Sew

I started with the basics. I learned how to make cute sailor-style uniforms, skirts, and dresses, and other things I already knew how to make from previous costumes. I am a big lover of Lolita fashion, especially the big, gathered skirts on the dresses. It’s something that I jumped into making immediately. While that fashion has its own set of rules, I made some dresses which can specifically be worn both in the fashion and out of it casually!

From learning how to make sailor styled uniforms with pleated skirts, I taught myself how to edit the top pattern into different blouses. From learning how to make Lolita dresses, I taught myself how to edit the bodice pattern into more casual bustier/corset tops. I was learning so much about how easy it is to morph existing costume patterns into actual fashion pieces.

To me it is a big flex to make something wonderful out of raw materials and proudly wear it around. As a power wheelchair user, I also find that proudly wearing my work offers a good distraction from the absolute truck of a power wheelchair that I drive. This is something that a lot of people automatically look at and not because I decorated it.

Wearing what I make also leads to conversations about my hobbies and shows that people with disabilities are unique individuals. We have our own things that we are passionate about and good at!

Making Accessible Clothing

Another way that sewing has empowered me, as a disabled individual specifically, it has allowed me to create custom more accessible garments for my body that make me feel beautiful.

Yesterday, I finished a gorgeous white and black lace bustier top that is fully lined underwired, cupped and boned, but has absolutely no finicky closures to it and it slips over my head! In a world where there isn’t much comparatively for accessible clothes, having the skills so that I can create my own is something that I’m super proud of.

I am allowed to feel great and beautiful in my body and should have garments that compliment that energy! Upon typing this last paragraph, I have just received news that I can start working on my accessible sewing room at the end of January. As somebody who has been forced to sew in her kitchen/living room for a few years, this news is exciting! I can’t wait to share with you the process for that and just how helpful it will be. I am very excited to continue making costumes and other things in a space that will be 100% accessible to me and my own.

About Chrysanthemum Chan: Chrysanthemum is an award-winning cosplayer and Quantum brand ambassador. She enjoys fashion, cosplay and music and has a TikTok channel with over 380,000 followers. Click here to learn more about Chrysanthemum.

For more great blogs from our brand ambassadors and Q Roll Models, visit lifeatilevel.com today!

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How My Disability Affected My Holiday Plans This Year

The holidays are my favorite time of year. I love decorating, shopping for others and celebrating my family traditions, but my health had other plans this year. When I think about how my disability (cerebral palsy) impacts my everyday life, I often focus on the external barriers, such as inaccessibility and society’s view of disability and not how cerebral palsy effects my physical health.

A Routine Doctor Appointment

I have spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which causes my muscles to tone out and constrict, making my movements rigid. To help manage my spasticity, I have a ITB Baclofen pump inserted internally in my left abdomen. I have had the pump for so long that I often forget that I have it until it is time for a refill. I must get my pump refilled every five months through a needle injection into the pump. These appointments are vital yet routine. Usually, I do not think twice about them. Then, at my most recent pump refill in December, my pump could not be refilled. It had flipped, blocking the refill port.

A Change in My Holiday Plans

In a matter of one 30-minute doctor appointment, my holiday plans went down the drain. I went from holiday cheer to having surgery. I needed to have emergency surgery to replace my pump with a new one, refill it and put it in the correct position. I had plans for Christmas pajamas and family time and then I would fly to see my best friend for New Years. Instead, I spent my holidays at home recovering. Not exactly how I planned to spend my holidays, but I had to roll with it for my overall health. To help make up for my absence, I received many pictures and participated in numerous FaceTime calls.

How Having a Disability Can Impact Life

I am fortunate that my disability does not regularly impact my health in this manner. The same cannot be said for other people with disabilities or chronic illnesses. For many people, their health impacts their daily life and railroads their best laid plans. This causes them to miss out on things. And for some, even the idea of making plans is near impossible because they do not know how their health is going to be from day to day.

For the last three weeks while recovering, I have experienced more anger about my disability and the fear of missing out more than ever before. What about the people that must miss out daily because of their health and disabilities?

A Call for Greater Inclusion

I once heard that people with disabilities are considered an absent population because we are not present. For so long, society assumed it was because we did not want to be there. They do not realize that we are often not present due to inaccessibility and lack of consideration for diverse needs. How can we stop just accepting the absence of disabled people and do more to ensure we include them?

About Isabella Bullock: Isabella, or Izzie for short, is an employment specialist for the Center of Independent Living. She is an iced coffee enthusiast who enjoys getting lost in a good book. Click here to learn more about Isabella.

For more great blogs from our brand ambassadors and Q Roll Models, visit lifeatilevel.com today!

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How I Made Friends from Around the World

Want to know what I love most about the weekends? I can play all the video games I want! I like to reconnect with my gaming friends online. The main rule my mom has is that I make sure all homework, makeup work and studying is completed for that week. She always says, “Cs are not an option,” in her I’m-not-playing-with-you voice! I make her proud so I can continue with the love of my life: my PlayStation. It’s the best gaming system.

I love the friends I make while playing my games. They’re from all around the world. I have friends from Puerto Rico, Italy, London and Canada. While playing games, we learn about each other and it’s interesting. It is like having a pen pal, but in game form. When we cannot play with each other for a while, it gives us plenty to talk about when we finally do!

Meet My Friend Juan

Juan lives in Puerto Rico. He tells me all about the foods I should try when my family goes out. He also teaches me a little Spanish here and there. I really like connecting with people from other cultures. It makes school a little more interesting.

Meet Angelic from Italy

Angelic lives in Italy and tells me that I’ve never had real spaghetti if someone from Italy didn’t make it. I plan on traveling there one day to see if that is true. Although, I could just ask for the recipe and have my mom make it. She is an awesome cook. Angelic enjoys playing games that have scenery from America. She wants to travel here one day and hopefully she has fun whenever she does. When we play the game “Call of Duty,” she always asks if the scenes from the game are what America really looks like.  

My Friend Josie is from London

Josie is from London. It seems like she is from America yet she has a really heavy British accent. It makes talking to her so funny, especially when she loses. She calls her mom “mum” and that is so weird to me. I tell her all the time that she sounds like Peppa Pig, although she hates the show. Apparently, the accent is very different, according to her.

Meet My Friend Jake

My last close gaming friend is Jake and he is from Vancouver, Canada, which, to me, is also like America. He has a very different accent and likes playing Fortnite. His younger brother, Jonathan, also plays with us. They are close and it is noticeable when we are playing multi-player games. They always look out for each other and never want to be partners with anybody else.

The friends I make online take me away from my everyday life. I often see the same kids from school and my neighborhood. They all look similar and talk the same too. My gaming friends make playing way more fun because I also learn about different cultures. Between rounds of the games, we ask each other questions and sometimes we even talk during the game.

One day, I hope I get to meet my gaming friends in person. It would be cool. The friends I make from other countries have caused my friendships with people from school to become stronger. It is really easy to connect with people when you all have a common interest.

About Morgan Steward: Morgan is an honorary police officer for the Covington Georgia Police Department. He uses the Stretto Power Wheelchair for mobility. Morgan is an active member in his community and enjoys helping others. Click here to learn more about Morgan.

For more great blogs from our brand ambassadors and Q Roll Models, visit lifeatilevel.com today!

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Tips for Gift Giving at Christmas

brown gift box under green christmas tree
Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels.com

The holidays are here! This time of year is awesome. People seem to be happier and kinder than usual. My favorite parts about Christmas are spending time with my family and giving gifts. For me, the gift giving is what I love most. I’m not big on receiving gifts. I mean, it’s nice to receive presents but generally, I already have the things I want and need. What I like to do is find the perfect gift for someone. This may not be easy for everybody, so here are some tips on how to shop for your loved ones.

Try to Find Out What They Need

Ask your friends and family what they need most. While you might think this ruins the surprise, a lot of people prefer to receive things they are actually in need of. For example, my brother works in the heating and air conditioning field. So, I try to get him tools or things he needs for work.

Give Them Something Fun

While it’s good to give things that people need, a fun gift is also a great idea. Perhaps you can mix it up. Get them what they need this year and find something fun to gift them for next Christmas. This year, I bought my brother a smelting forge. Although I’m not sure what he can cast from it, it seems pretty cool. Gifts that relate to their hobbies and interests are always a good choice.

Buying Gifts for Kids

Some people may think it’s difficult to buy for your kids, nieces and nephews, especially if they’re older. Remember: you can never go wrong with a gift card to their favorite store at the mall. Shopping for younger children may be easier. For my niece, Andi, it’s all about the toys. I focus on whatever Disney or Marvel movie she is currently into. This year, she loves Frozen, of course.

The best part about shopping for my family and friends is Christmas morning. Then, it all comes together and it’s one of the best days of the whole year. I can’t wait! I hope you all have a very merry Christmas and a wonderful new year!

About Bryan Anderson: Bryan grew up and resides in Illinois. Injured by an IED in October 2005, Bryan is one of the few triple amputees to survive his injuries in Iraq. He is an ambassador for the Gary Sinise Foundation and a spokesperson for USA Cares, which is focused on assisting post 9-11 veterans. Click here to learn more about Bryan.

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