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Tarpon Springs mouth artist illustrates children’s book to teach kids about disabilities

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Posted at 10:08 AM, Nov 04, 2021

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — Chris Kuster, a quadriplegic who draws with his mouth, just finished illustrating his first children’s book "Nick Springer On The Move," about a Paralympic athlete who overcomes the odds.

Kuster always loved drawing as a kid.

“I was 21-years-old and I was involved in a shallow diving accident,” said Kuster.

He accepted he would live the rest of his life as a quadriplegic, but what he didn’t accept is that he would never draw again. He began using his mouth to hold the pencil.

“I struggled at first thinking, ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do this,’ and then I started seeing it was a lot easier than you would think it is,” said Kuster.

Drawing became much more than just a hobby.

“It was like an eye-opening experience how I was able to just release myself through the physical bonds that I have through my artwork,” said Kuster.

His cartoons and doodles soon caught the attention of a group called the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists.

“It's an organization that lets disabled people earn a living by selling their artwork through books, cards, calendars,” said Kuster.

The MFPA went on to connect Chris with the family of Nick Springer, who asked him to illustrate a children’s book based on Nick’s life, one that Chris understood all too well.

“It’s an amazing story about a young man who contracts bacterial meningitis and ends up having his arms and his legs amputated,” said Kuster.

As you see in the book, Nick goes on to play wheelchair rugby, winning a gold medal in the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.

“I think there is a lack of representation about disabled children in children’s literature,” said Kuster.

Nick passed away before the book was released but Chris is honored to keep his story alive through his heartfelt illustrations.

“I’ve received so many notes and letters about the book being read in class and what students have to say,” said Kuster.

The book, “Nick Springer On The Move,” is available at mfpausa.com.