No Tripod? | Guest Blogger Liliana Blood

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on January 29, 2019 # Mobility

sourceIt was a crisp day in September, with everything flowing normally like a bopping Eminem rap. Nine students cluttered in the T.V. and Production classroom. We were huddled around a small circle table, with packets as thick as butter in front of us, each student showing off their new snazzy highlighters and pens that they will probably lose in a few days. A window in the back of the small cubed classroom was cracked open. Escaping the confinement of the room crossed my mind, but they put the fruit on the top and the French fries easily reachable in the cafeteria for a reason. Through the tune of morning doves and my plotting to escape, I heard my name drip from Mr. Chris’s lips. Mr. Chris had a carefree air to him, and I could never look at him without comparing him to Charlie Brown. They shared the same haircut and he even had the same clumsy frame. He carried himself as if he was always overbooked.

My name rapidly flew out of his mouth, alike to Black Friday shoppers trampling through Walmart’s doors. “Liliana!” My eyebrows shot up instantly. Out of ll nine kids in the class, he had to choose me. I responded hesitantly, my mind a whirlpool of confusion as I tried to recall what the lesson was about. “Liliana, if you find yourself without a tripod, what can you use to hold your camera?” The question was simple, open-ended and any answer could fit. “I would use a sweatshirt to prop it up, or hold it…” The other students in the classroom watched consciously as he shook his head no.

“Why do you guys think I picked on Liliana?” At this point I was aloof, I didn’t understand what his end goal was.

sourceAt the opposite side of the classroom, another student raised her hand and he quickly called on her. The hesitation in her eyes gleamed off the bright fluorescent lights in the classroom. “Because she's in a wheelchair?” The next words out of Mr. Chris’s chapped lips will stay with me forever and continue to confuse me. “That's right a wheelchair! If you do not have a tripod you can use a wheelchair!”

My mouth dropped open in absolute shock, resembling the mask from the movie Scream. My fellow classmates all had an array of looks on their faces. I looked at the girl next to me and I was impressed by how high her eyebrows shot up too. The boy across from her seemed like he just got busted eating all the marshmallows out of Lucky Charms. The rest of the class, including the assistant teacher that was half asleep, looked outright confused. The only person whose expression showed humor was Mr. Chris, his face sporting a comical grin.

Once his words registered fully in my mind, and I pinched myself to assure I was awake and not asleep in the comfort of my room, I repeated his answer out loud to confirm. “You would use a wheelchair?” Mr. Chris nodded, “Yes! You could put the camera on a wheelchair and push it around!” I couldn’t understand it, and the other eight students did not either. Right away, my mind went into challenge mode. Not only did Mr. Chris not make any sense, but he just blatantly pointed out and tried to make a joke out of the only wheelchair-bound student in the classroom. “A wheelchair would make a terrible camera stand, Sir. How would the camera stay focused and steady? And wouldn’t you only be filming people’s lower bodies and the ground?” Mr. Chris was not expecting this reaction. I also think he mixed up his comedy club and TV and Production class. After a back and forth conversation with Mr. Chris, he dropped the topic and continued with the lesson.

sourceTeachers are educators. Mr. Chris did not realize the impact he had on his students, and that what he says and does imprints in our minds. I felt that my peers now viewed me as a camera stand, while he as an educator meant it as just a joke. It hurt me deeply to be the brunt of his joke, as it surrounded something I cannot control. Because of Mr. Chris, I want to step forward and acknowledge and re-educate the school system. I want to implement the wheelchair challenge at my high school to help the staff understand what it is like for the students in wheelchairs who try to navigate the hallways while also carrying their 20-pound books at the same time. Even though I face people like this every day, I will always smile for the camera as they help remind me what I am fighting for.

Liliana Blood is a seventeen-year-old young woman and a pediatric cancer survivor, who navigates life in a manual wheelchair. She created a T-Shirt line known as PackNPals, with a multitude of designs. Each character wears a pair of shoes, a symbol of her journey to walk again. She donates these T-Shirts to children and adults in hospitals, as well as selling them at community fundraisers. Liliana is a full time model and actress, working with an agent; while also attending high school. An advocate for those affected by pediatric cancer and spinal cord injuries, Liliana strives toward inspiring others and leaving her wheelchair behind.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.