Hip-hop artist and disability rights advocate
4 Wheel City
4 Wheel City: The Movement 4 Improvement is an entertainment and musical group featuring hip-hop artists and disability rights advocates, Namel “Tapwaterz” Norris and Ricardo “Rickfire” Velasquez. Their mission is to use hip-hop music and culture to create more opportunities for people with disabilities and inspire people not to give up on life. 4 Wheel City performs original music as well as motivational speaking at hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, fundraisers, and events, all over the world. Additionally, 4 Wheel City demonstrates to the world that people with disabilities have talents, dreams, and deserve equality.
Mr. Norris and Mr. Velasquez are wheelchair riders as the result of gun violence. Ricardo Velasquez was walking home after a party when he noticed a commotion ahead of him, with people running in all directions. Determined to mind his own business, the high school senior kept heading toward his building in the Bronx housing project. Suddenly he heard someone shout, “He’s got a gun!” “The next thing I know I’m on the ground bleeding,” Velasquez, 32, recalls of that night 13 years ago. “I was screaming, and it was crazy. It happened just that quick.” Fast-forward three years. A resident of the same New York neighborhood, 17-year-old Namel Norris was at his sister’s birthday party when his cousin started playing with a gun. The weapon accidentally fired, striking Norris in the neck and paralyzing him from the chest down.
Panelist: Disability in a COVID World: Employment, Communications, Physical Spaces & Mental Health