Over the summer, arts ethnographer Alexa Smithwrick worked with seven OPEN DOORS members to develop and share their personal narratives. We've been adding one of these initial seven stories to our website every few weeks. Stay tuned for more OPEN DOORS stories and guest interviews in 2018.

THINGS CHANGE by King Tito Love

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13

I'M GLAD I SURVIVED  by Abdul "Suluk" Johnson

Abdul “Suluk” Johnson was born in Metropolitan Hospital in Manhattan. As a child, Suluk demonstrated great skill and promise on the basketball court. He has played in several wheelchair leagues and indulges in long games of Scrabble. He hopes to one day study photography and to participate in a Scrabble tournament.


Ronald “Rony” Lys has lived in various Brooklyn neighborhoods since coming to the borough from Haiti as a young child. An impressive polylinguist, Rony studies and pulls inspiration from a variety of languages including, Creole, Russian, Italian, and German. He hopes to create poetry that provides youth with positive direction.


APPRECIATE LIFE by Vincent "V" Pierce

"They say the bond between fathers and daughters is unbreakable."

Vincent “V” Pierce was born in Newburgh, New York where he spent his early childhood. As a teen, V moved down south to North Carolina where he studied music and played on multiple basketball teams. Today, V’s focus lies in music production and his 9-year-old daughter, Nuatej.


THE STREETS by LeVar Lawrence 

“If you was the type of kid who didn’t come outside and knew how to fight ... or wasn't stuck in a gang ... you got picked on.”

LeVar “Var” Lawrence was born and raised in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. While other children were out playing, Var spent countless hours inside nurturing a love of drawing. A lifelong love of visual arts was born. An active family man, Var is kept going by his children; Shaequan Lawrence, LeVon Lawrence, Lequan Lawrence, Lequasiah Lawrence, Leshea Lawrence, Varnaeshiah Lawrence, and LeVar Lawrence. In his spare time Var practices digital art and speaks to children in the city about gun violence. He one day hopes to walk again.

Sammy Reyes


"Just because you're in a wheelchair doesn't mean your life stops." 

Andres Molina


"Sometimes good people make mistakes, but that doesn't mean good people have to pay for it the rest of their lives."

OPEN DOORS Podcast Project is made possible through a Quality of Life grant from the Dana & Christopher Reeve Foundation, which helps give greater independence to individuals living with paralysis. 

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