Faces in the Crowd: JJ

Author, “JJ” James Janis recently celebrated a published book, “The Chair is not me.” It’s a collection of poems to inspire people to think about, learn from, and connect to people who are diversely abled.

JJ was born a fighter. He was a month premature and had cerebral palsy complicated with several other conditions. He was only expected to live 12 hours.

He grew up between the Pine Ridge Reservation and Rapid City. His strong will helped to shape his life into what it is today.

JJ says, “All too often people with diverse abilities are told that they can’t do. And it’s becoming less and less now, but it was a common thing when I was growing up. So, you really had to persevere against that and tell yourself you could do it. If you let people that have that other mindset get into your head, you are not going to go very far.”

He takes opportunities to teach the world about people with disabilities. The message to them is the title of the book. “This chair is not who I am – there is a living being, human being inside of this chair, but most people don’t look that way. They look at the chair first. It is getting better, but we are far from where I want us to be.”

JJ recently signed up to become a self-advocate– a voice for the voiceless members of the diverse abilities community as one of the newest members of the A-Team Black Hills.

You can purchase “The Chair is not me” at the Suzie Cappa Art Center. JJ’s friends from Suzie Cappa illustrated the book. And the poems were written in partnership with Flutter Productions.

You can catch JJ perform in the upcoming Flutter Production called “Zenith” at the end of this month. Click here for more information.

JJ’s future plans are to write a children’s book.

If you would like to nominate someone to be featured in our weekly Faces in the Crowd segment, click here.

Categories: Faces in the Crowd, NewsCenter1 Today