Chicago -- BACKBONES, a local nonprofit that has been providing peer support for individuals with spinal cord injury and their families since 2009, was in New York City last week for the Opening Night of a touring photography exhibit called Reinventing the Wheel: Stories of Life After Spinal Cord Injury.
The result of an online “disability” image search will most often generate somber, sad, and hopeless imagery that perpetuates stereotypes and fails to reflect the real lives of individuals with disabilities. Contrary to popular beliefs, and like all other members of society, people with disabilities can live happy and successful lives, are active members of their communities, and make important contributions to society.
Reinventing the Wheel brought together 21 photographers and paired them with 21 people with spinal cord injury (SCI) from cities nationwide. Photographers documented the lives of those with SCI with the purpose of highlighting ability. This collection of visual storytelling starts conversations, changes attitudes and empowers many to shift views leading to better access to housing, employment, education and recreation for people with disabilities.
The project launched last summer at the National Museum of Health + Medicine Chicago and is touring in New York as part of the ReelAbilities Film & Arts Festival through March. It will continue to Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco and other cities.
- “I loved this exhibit. I especially appreciated the personal essays and the way the photography reveals the intimate moments in these people's lives”
- “Great exhibit! Wonderful, truly inspiring stories from this collection of individuals.”
- “A Beautiful Exhibit - you all should be very proud. The stories have the perfect amount of emotion & confrontation to engage the audience but also allow the viewer to be both inspired and proud of the accomplishments made.”
For more information about BACKBONES and the project visit:,0,4690987.story