A Worthy Cause
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Profile photo of Marc Stecker-Wheelchair Kamikaze

Okay, folks, I’m going to take the liberty of using my virtual soapbox here on Wheelchair Kamikaze to beat the drum for a worthy cause, an outside the box effort to make the lives of the disabled easier and maybe even a bit more joyful. I’ll include a bunch of videos which will help explain this project and the needs it addresses. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth several hundred thousand, and these short clips will save you the rigors of having to read yet another of my seemingly endless polemics.

I present to you the AXS Map project, which is the brainchild of filmmaker and fellow MSer Jason DaSilva. Jason recently won an Emmy for his documentary film When I Walk (click here), an eloquent and touching exploration of his journeys through the world of progressive MS. When I Walk received many well-deserved accolades at film festivals around the world, and was shown on US television as part of the PBS series POV. The film is available for instant viewing on a variety of streaming platforms, including Hudu, Vudu, iTunes, Google Play, and YouTube (click here).

If you haven’t seen the film, I highly recommend it. When I Walk offers an unvarnished portrayal of the realities of life with a chronic progressive disabling disease without dissolving into pathos, and also offers an uplifting love story to boot. There, now I’ve played film critic, testament to the teaching skills of my professors back in film school over 30 years ago. How nice that my degree hasn’t gone completely to waste…

Ah, but I digress. Back to the subject at hand, the AXS Map project (click here), which endeavors to create an online and mobile app based mapping tool that will allow disabled folks to readily identify accessible shops, restaurants, and other establishments in whatever city or neighborhood they happen to find themselves. The project is worldwide in scope, and its efforts to map locales both near and far involve interactive “mapathons”, organized mapping events that can be turned into fun little competitions. AXS Map project funding efforts are currently underway via a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign intended to turn Jason’s vision into reality (click here). Here’s a video about AXS Map produced by Jason  that fully explains the project.

As most every disabled person can attest, the frustrations involved in simply trying to accomplish even the most mundane errand can often prove daunting and disheartening. Cities like New York, in which Jason and I both reside, are filled with obstacles that can go completely unnoticed by able-bodied folks, but are just about insurmountable to those of using canes, walkers, wheelchairs, or scooters. Here’s a great video Jason did for the New York Times that vividly illustrates the hassles routinely encountered by those whose legs are no longer their primary means of transportation…

Hey, it occurs to me that this would be a great place to dust off one of my old Wheelchair Kamikaze videos, which were the reason this blog got started in the first place. Way back in 2009 Wheelchair Kamikaze was born with the intention of it being a place to park the videos and photos I was shooting for my wheelchair, a spot on the Internet where friends and family could access my self-indulgent little projects. Among these self-indulgences was a video called “Searching for Audrey Hepburn”, in which I take a wheelchair journey through the streets of New York looking for a statue inspired by the late great actress’s indefatigable humanitarian work on behalf of the children of the world. Along the way I encounter quite a number of the obstacles that can make getting around New York in a wheelchair a genuine pain in the ass. Sadly, the friend I mention in the video, who inspired my search for the statue with his boundless affection for Audrey Hepburn, passed away about a year and a half ago. Rest in peace, Sir Brett, and thanks for the smiles…

And just for the heck of it, here’s a video of Jason receiving his Emmy award for When I Walk, which, even if you haven’t seen the film, is poignant and touching in its own right…

Please support the AXS Map project, just waiting for your help to get kicked into high gear. If you’re not in a position to make a financial donation, consider organizing or taking part in a mapathon, thereby helping to make life that much easier for people with disabilities. For more info, just visit the AXS Map website (click here). Thanks.

This article was originally published on Marc’s website on 11/05/15 and is being featured on MultipleSclerosis.net with his permission.

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