Discovering Her Inner Artist
Glenneisha Darkins, 25, never imagined becoming a painter. An athlete, she played on the women’s basketball team at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and dreamed of playing basketball overseas. But while driving home to Miami in 2010, Darkins was involved in a car accident that left her a C1 quadriplegic and vent user.
“I was incredibly angry and bitter at what had happened to me,” she says. “I was very difficult to work with and reluctant to get up and get used to being in my wheelchair.” But within a couple of years, Darkins reached a turning point. “I started to talk to myself more and to God, and I began to read. I began to notice changes — how I see things, think about things and knowing where to best let out my frustrations.”
Darkins also kept a notepad to express her emotions. Those notes were translated into a book, Freedom Chair: An Open Diary of a Quadriplegic. Darkins switched her major to psychology and switched schools to Florida International University. Perhaps more importantly, while she was writing her book, she discovered another art form, painting.
“I discovered art by browsing on YouTube while I was bored writing my book,” she laughs. “As I was browsing, I saw someone who was also in my position, painting with his mouth. Once I saw that, I was extremely inspired and motivated to create my own pieces.” Darkins mainly paints nature, animals and portraits.
“I’ve realized that my purpose in life is not just to inspire people with my voice, but also with my art regarding my life as a quadriplegic and as a black woman.” See her paintings at instagram.com/glen.neisha or find her book on Amazon.
‘Wheelchair Wanderings’ Begins
At the age of 18, Caitlin Lisle became an incomplete paraplegic after falling off a horse. “My biggest fear was that I would lose my independence,” she says, but within a handful of months, she was back on campus at the University of Sydney in Australia, studying towards her veterinarian degree. After graduating and working in the field, Lisle began to become jealous of her traveling friends.
“It’s a very Australian thing to go traveling for a long period of time. I felt like I didn’t want to miss out on this Australian rite of passage just because of my disability.” At the age of 29 she quit her job to travel and started her blog, Wheelchair Wanderings. Since December 2016, she has traveled through Germany, the Netherlands, London and Paris, and has already gathered several traveling tips, including nixing trying to wear a backpack. “It totally shifts your center of balance.” Follow her at www.facebook.com/Wheelchairwanderings/
Own the Beach
A tiny company based in Foley, Alabama, Beach’N Buggy’s makes powered beach wheelchairs. Three beach models are offered: the Hammer Head, which lets you roll with your legs out straight, the Sand Crab, a 40-inch-wide four-wheel design, and the Lobster, a narrower upright model. All cost $6,000. Check them out at www.beachnwheelchairs.com.