Discovering the Dancer Within
Always positive, never looking back, Edna Serrano, a 23-year-old aspiring actress and dancer, entered the disability world shortly after birth when doctors discovered a neuroblastoma on her back. While it caused T7 paralysis, Serrano, who lives in San Diego, California, is grateful it happened when she was so young.
“Growing up in the wheelchair made it normal to me,” she says. “I love using my voice to show the world how wonderful this life is and how much you can do in so many different ways.” One of the things she loves to show the world is that dancing is still possible from a wheelchair. She discovered this watching Push Girls, the reality show that followed women with SCI.
“When Push Girls was on, I was a huge fan of Chelsie Hill. I used to follow her on social media, and that’s how I found out she had a dance team and was looking for new dancers. I auditioned, and since then I’ve been on the dance team.” Serrano’s entire life has changed since joining Hill’s dance team, now called the Rollettes. “Being part of the foundation [The E.P.I.C Project — Empowering People in Wheelchairs] has been one of the best things that’s ever happened to me,” she says. “We are like sisters and have each other.”
Currently at Southwestern College studying communications, and having starred in her first musical play last year, “GREASE on Wheels,” her ultimate goal is for wheelchair dance to grow in popularity. “I would love the world to see the definition of dance that I see. For me, dance is a form of expression in which I dance with the music and my heart. I let the two move my body,” she says — and then lets her wheels take it from there.
The Access Earth App
A dream of every wheelchair user is to have an app that tells them how accessible things are, and there are a handful of apps that provide this. One of the most popular is Wheelmap, which has almost 10,000 downloads. A new app, however, is aiming to become even more popular. It’s called Access Earth.
Dreamed up by Matt McCann, a young software engineer who has cerebral palsy, Access Earth won third place in the World Citizenship category of the Imagine Cup in 2014, a Microsoft technology competition. It is a user-driven platform that asks participants to give yes or no answers to a few accessibility criteria questions.
There’s no 5-star rating system. “Everyone’s idea of what is accessible is different,” says McCann, who wants to add the ability to book accessible hotel rooms and restaurant reservations to Access Earth next. Check it out: access.earth
World’s First Accessible Water Park Gearing Up
If you’ve ever gone to a water park as a wheelchair user, you’ve probably realized accessibility is hard to find, which is why Morgan’s Inspiration Island in San Antonio, Texas, is so exciting. Scheduled to open during spring of 2017, this unprecedented water park will feature an accessible riverboat adventure ride and five water-play areas.
Learn more at morganswonderland.com/morgans-inspiration-island