Welcome to Fun4thedisabled! I am really excited to have you visit this site. The Interview you are about to watch was done by my favorite cousin, Nona. She really surprized me with some questions, but we both had a good time doing this interview. Enjoy!
Cousin: Please tell us who you are and why you are here.
Fun: My name is Vanessa Harris and I have a YouTube channel and a website called fun4thedisabled which talks about resources, people, products,activities, events and organizations for people who have ability challenges, their families and friends so they can enjoy themselves.
Cousin: From childhood, you’ve always wanted to save the world. How does your schooling to be an engineer and fun4thedisabled allow a pathway for you to realize your dreams?
Fun: Well, When I was in high school, I got involved in Earth Day and I realized that I wanted to save the earth. And my father didn’t think that was a good idea. He wanted me to be a doctor. So I compromised with him. I said, Okay, while I am an undergraduate I will be a chemistry major, see what happens. So when I graduated, I applied to environmental engineering school at the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana. He still didn’t like it, but he didn’t forbid it.So, after that, I became an environmental engineer. And I got involved in hazardous waste and wastewater and all sorts of things related to environmental engineering. Then, when I retired from environmental engineering, I decided to set up a YouTube channel called fun4thedisabled. I had an accident and I also had some bone problems, and I became a wheelchair user. And I realized that I needed to continue to do things and not just become inactive. I wanted to come active. And so that’s why I decided to do a YouTube channel called fun4thedisabled.
Cousin: So please tell me about your love of dance.
Fun: Well, I’ve always loved to watch people dancing, and I used to really enjoy watching Alvin Ailey and the Dance Theater of Harlem, and the Joffrey Ballet and all kinds of dance. I like to go to the dance festivals here in Chicago that they have every year. I also got involved in chair dancing. I want to get involved in that some more.
Cousin: Tell me about chair dancing.
Fun: I learned how to do Zumba dancing in my wheelchair to all kinds of music.
Cousin: Is there any more about that that you can share with us? I can’t even imagine what chair dancing is.
Fun: Well, with chair dancing you just you just move your body and you get involved in the music. You move your arms, your legs, your head, you’re moving from side to side and it’s just enjoyable and I get to dance with other people that way.
Cousin: That is awesome. Wheelchairs do not confine people. So please tell me, what benefit or what doors have opened for you as result from creating and developing fun4thedisabled?
Fun: Well, I’ve been starting to go to a lot of activities and workshops and programs and finding out about a lot of products and people who have ability problems. Yesterday I went to a workshop called Lights! Camera!Access! 2.0 here in Chicago. We had to apply to get into that program but also people who want to get involved in the media. There were people there from the news, advertising, from cinematography, and documentaries. There were people there that were brand new to the industry as well as those that had been in it forever.They had interviews and workshops,so you were able to figure out how to disclose your abilities. Then people will be able to know what you can do and what limitations you have so that it can be worked out. Also, there were people there that were interviewing us to get jobs in the industry. They were giving pointers on how to structure your resume. It was a really very interesting session.
Cousin: That sounds interesting.
Fun: Yeah. And then two weeks ago I went to Access Chicago which is about products and services for people who have ability problems here in Chicago. And then back in June I went to the Abilities Expo which is Schaumburg, Illinois. It is held every year and is also another place to find out about people, products and activities for people who are disabled.I got to do rock climbing. I got involved in petting miniature horses. I rode a bike. I might get a bike next year. So, I’m finding out that there’s lots of things for people who have ability problems can actually do. I’m going to be interviewing a lot of those people that I met for my YouTube channel.
Cousin: So, you mentioned you are considering getting a service animal. What kind of service animal are you considering?
Fun: I love dogs!
Cousin: And what kind of service would that dog provide for you?
Fun: Well he would calm me down.
Cousin: So, you have a little friend. How did you acquire this little friend?
Fun: At the Abilities Expo there was an exhibitor–Disability Awareness Month in Dekalb, that had disabled people who made all these products and pieces of artwork. So, I found this stuffed animal. I named him Tigger, he’s my tiger. I bought him there and I got him for a song and I really love them and that’s why keeps me company here in my office.
Cousin: He’s adorable.
Cousin: Well Tigger, thank you for being here. And Vanessa, thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing yourself with us and thank you for the contribution that you are and the contribution that you’re making through fun4thedisabled. Thank you.
Fun: Thanks, cousin.