Join Vanessa Harris, the inspiring founder of Fun4theDisabled on NBC5 Chicago Today! Vanessa shares her journey and the mission behind Fun4theDisabled: to bring joy and accessibility to the disability community in Chicago and beyond.

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CORTNEY HALL: Welcome back, Fun4thedisabled is all about celebrating people and making Chicago more disability friendly.

MATTHEW RODRIGUES: Yes, they’re using digital media to bring the community together and having loads of fun doing it. Welcome Fun4theDisabled’s founder, Vanessa A- the A is for Adele-

HALL: Adele, yes!

RODRIGUES: Harris. Yeah. We asked you here. Hi.

HALL: Hi Vanessa.

RODRIGUES: So you founded this organization. Why did you feel there was a need to have something like this?

HARRIS: Well, we believe that people with disabilities should have just as much fun, if not more,


HARRIS: than people who are non disabled.

RODRIGUES: That’s right. And we celebrate that.

HALL: And you are part of the disability community. What was it that you found was lacking?

HARRIS: I have multiple disabilities. I have a bone disorders. I’m a wheelchair user, I’m a cancer survivor. And I also have a mental health disorder, so I run the gamut. Wow. When I was working in engineering, I wasn’t having any fun.

RODRIGUES: Okay, so you wanted to bring fun into the lives of those with disabilities. What kind of fun have you brought to the community? And here in Chicago?

HARRIS: We started with, a series this year called Accessible Chicago, where we have people with disabilities, navigating accessible cultural attractions like Navy Pier, the Museum of Science and Industry, Lincoln Park Zoo, the DuSable museum.

RODRIGUES: Yes. All, wonderful. Wonderful Chicago institutions.

HALL: How does Chicago rank in terms of accessibility?

HARRIS: Quite, quite high.

HALL: Okay. So it’s-

HARRIS: and we want people to know about Chicago being accessible.

HALL: Okay. So Chicago’s pretty accessible. We’re doing pretty good.

HARRIS: Yeah, we are!

HALL: That’s great.

RODRIGUES: And part of the mission is to get- do you gather people, do you create groups where you go to these different locations together?

HARRIS: Yes. We have at least one person with a disability that tours each place. So we’ve had people who were blind, people who were deaf, people who had Down’s syndrome, people with people who were wheelchair users people with autism, and

RODRIGUES: come one, come all

HALL: and they kind of scope out the area and then report back how to navigate this place with a certain disability. Is that correct?


HALL: And say it to the group.

RODRIGUES: I would imagine it’s easy if you have a disability to get kind of isolated. If you don’t lean in and look for the fun like you’re doing.

HARRIS: right, that’s what we want people to come to our website. We have, we have a guide on our website that shows accessible venues. We want businesses that are accessible to contact us and say, we want to be in your guides, so people will know about us.


HARRIS: So they can come to our website and see the accessible Chicago section and say, contact us and we will we will put you in our section.

RODRIGUES: Put us on this list.

HALL: Yeah. And that’s also a good note for businesses out there who want to be included as an accessible place to reach out through your website.

HARRIS: Yeah, because there- there is $13 trillion in disposable income worldwide. We want people to spend it here.

RODRIGUES AND HALL: Yes, yes, yes, right

HALL: the community has the money.

RODRIGUES: From the disability community that’s disabled 13 trillion dollars. That’s a huge number.

HALL: That’s a huge economic impact.

RODRIGUES: So you get those people coming into the city and enjoying and having a great time that can help everybody.

HALL: Well thank you so much Vanessa for this amazing organization. And we’ll have all the information on our website about your website.

RODRIGUES: Yeah and that’s Fun4thedisabled dot-


RODRIGUES: There we go. We’ll be back in a moment everybody.

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