Kyra’s home is her canvas. A nook in ‘her’ room has been painted a shade called A0.10.50, which is a shade of pink. The wood panels in the hall have been painted ‘vintage blue’, a bright shade of light blue. Kyra Mulders, 23, likes to paint and draw, has recently begun to create buttons of epoxy resin, and also likes to build things out of Lego bricks. A bouquet made out of Lego pieces sits on a sideboard. The project she is currently working on, a typewriter made out of mint green Lego pieces, sits next to her computer.

Room in her own home

A lot of modifications had to be made to the house in Leiderdorp where Kyra lives with her boyfriend, Sander. Not only because the house had been neglected for dozens of years, but because it wasn’t wheelchair-friendly. While she is still able to walk short distances, she finds it quite exhausting, so she increasingly uses her wheelchair. She suffers from the Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a hereditary disorder which is causing her connective tissue to weaken. Kyra and Sander are saving up for a lift to be installed in their house. Once they have got that, their home will be completely future-proof.

Kyra has a room of her own in her own home, on the ground floor, behind the garage. This allows her to remain at home without any help on those occasions when Sander is away for a weekend. The room has been equipped with a toilet, small kitchen, bed (placed against the pink wall), desk and several bookcases full of colourful books.

Kyra in front of her pink wall Image credit: Ronald van den Heerik

Pride and joy

When we go upstairs to the first floor, where the living room is situated, we meet two cats: Alice (named after the heroine of Alice in Wonderland) and Remus (named after Remus Lupin from the Harry Potter books). The short wall in the L-shaped living room is the next project Kyra hopes to tackle. She has just picked out the colours, and shows us the paint colour strips on the coffee table. The lower half of the wall will be light green (No L0.20.50), and closer to the ceiling she intends to paint a line in a darker shade of green (No L0.30.20).

The bathroom on the second floor is Kyra’s pride and joy. “I picked out everything in here myself, from the taps to the tiles. If I ever get to the point where I’ll need a wheelchair in the shower, all the sizes and proportions will be right. And it looks quite lovely, with these blue tiles and black details.”

The room next to the bathroom reveals how she came by her love for painting. “My Mum painted the mountain scene behind our bed.” The landscape painting contains many shades of blue, such as ‘ravelijn’ and ‘royal blue’.


(hoofdfoto) Kyra Mulders1 – Sanne van der Most – ontoegankelijke campus

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Kyra’s home is her safe haven – a place where she can move about freely, unlike many other places. The struggle is real, she says.

At EUR, she is doing a research work placement in which she seeks to determine how students with physical impairments feel about higher education institutions in the Netherlands. She herself finds the building where she is doing the work placement (the Bayle Building) quite the challenge. She has difficulty getting onto the pavement in her wheelchair. “There is only one toilet there that I can use, and there is a shower in the same room. People who come to campus on their racing bicycles often use that shower, so in the mornings I’m often prevented from going to the lavatory.”

Kyra hopes her research project will help improve the situation for all students (current and future) who have a physical impairment, like herself. She thinks her research project is ‘really cool’, and she’d love to keep conducting research, even after her work placement ends. “But I don’t want to be the face of those changes. I don’t want them to be the sum of my identity. There’s so much more to me than my wheelchair.”