Jason Da Silva seemed to be on top of the world. He was fulfilling a childhood dream, making films and documentaries. But then it all came crashing down. At 25, Da Silva was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis. MS is a neurological disease that affects the flow of information between the brain and the body.
Da Silva decided to turn the cameras around to chronicle his journey with MS. The film When I Walk was screened at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s a poignant, personal story – at times heartbreaking and also inspirational. We see Da Silva getting progressively worse.
“The more and more I got worse, and it was hard to get a around,” he said. “I realized that it was going to be harder to be here, as I go from a cane, to walker, to wheelchair. Just because, New York City’s not the optimal place to be in a wheelchair.”
Da Silva, a New Yorker, refused to move from the city he loved. Instead, he came up with an idea to help people with physical disabilities.
He and his wife Alice, whom he met while filming his documentary, created AXS Map a user-generated map that allows people to find, rate and share places for handicap accessibility. It started in New York and has moved quickly to other cities as volunteers from around the globe host map-athons rating businesses, schools, transportation, and more.
For those with disabilities like Da Silva, it means making the town you love, an easier place to live.
“I decided to stay for two reasons, one is it’s my home and the best place for me as an artist and filmmaker, and two there was a fight that needed to be fought and I didn’t mind being that person to fight that fight.”
For more on Jason Da Silva’s journey watch this month’s Asian American Life.
This month’s show examines health and wellness in the Asian American community.
Reporter Paul Lin (@Plinmedia) talks with women who have recovered from eating disorders. Mike Gilliam (@MikeGilliamTV) reports on the rise of diabetes among South Asians, and Minnie Roh (MRohNYC) explores the healing powers of Art Therapy.