Tyler Greene: ability awareness - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Tyler Greene: ability awareness


By Sunny Layne

WATERLOO (KWWL)-- Some may think that people who have disabilities live a limited life, missing out on things like playing sports or music.

But one eastern Iowa teenager is showing not only the country, but the world that a wheelchair and so-called "disabilities" can be seen as abilities.

He has participated in softball, karate and theater, and teaches schools, colleges, and businesses.

Tyler Greene is someone you should know.

Joking and laughter fill the Greene family home in Waterloo.

"Oftentimes the disability is an afterthought," Tyler's mother Gina Greene said. "I'll say, 'Oh yeah, by the way...'"

Gina and Paul Greene remember joy at the birth of their third and youngest child, Tyler, 18 years ago, despite his prognosis.

"From the very beginning it's been a matter of celebrating," Gina said. "All we wanted to do was celebrate the fact we had a new baby boy."

"Tyler had a very difficult birth, for the first few days, we weren't sure if we'd be bringing Tyler home or not," his father Paul said.

Because of a lack of oxygen at birth, Tyler suffers from Cerebral Palsy, a life-long birth injury affecting muscle coordination. But he says he feels a reason exists behind the challenge.

"Part of it is God's mission," Tyler said. "That we're put on this earth for a certain reason."

Committed Boy Scouts, Tyler and his dad taught a merit badge called Disability Awareness a few years ago, but they soon decided to change the title to better reflect the badge's mission: Ability Awareness, and the cause has grown larger than Tyler ever dreamed.

"Yep, I'm Tyler," he says on an informational DVD. "Sure I got a couple of extra things to deal with, don't we all?"

First hoping to educate educators in all of Iowa's 365 school districts as an Eagle Scout project, his informational DVD has now reached all 50 states and 18 countries, with 5,500 copies in circulation, and some with foreign language requests. It now plays at schools, colleges, businesses and organizations.

"Ability awareness and what that is is really simple," Tyler said. "It's the skill of looking at any person for what they can do, and not what they can't."

Tyler himself has spoken to dozens of groups about how they can include people with disabilities in all activities. For example, he has played softball.

"I batted from a wheelchair," Tyler says on his DVD. "My dad pushed me around the bases. No extra strikes, no favors."

Tyler has also acted in theater, learned karate and more.

"I played percussion in band," he says on the DVD. 

"His goal is to change the world in how people look at persons with disabilities," Gina said.

"I don't know how I could possibly look at that and not think that's not a mission Tyler is on," Paul said.

Now having touched the world, Tyler says he's just begun to show what possibilities exist when you change your focus from can't to can.

"As long as people want to hear it, I'll be doing it," he said.

Tyler looks forward to attending Hawkeye Community College and eventually majoring in Public Administration.

For more information on Tyler's Ability Awareness program and DVD, click here.

If you know someone who is making a difference or who has an interesting story to tell, we'd like to share his or her story too. Send your suggestion to Sunny Layne, or by calling 319-291-1257.   

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