After that meeting, Whitfield started a non-profit organization, Chastenation, a charity that raises money through sponsorships and donations to make its inclusive endeavors such as Their life My lens, possible. However, a TV show doesn’t happen by itself. After years of making YouTube videos, Whitfield studied film and television production at the Savannah College of Art and Design on a bass fishing scholarship. During her freshman year of college, she wrote down her dreams of one day having her own show and hung it on the wall.
For Whitfield, the young people she takes fishing have helped her find a deeper appreciation for the sport. “I get frustrated if I don’t catch 50 fish, whereas these kids are happy to catch three or even just a bait,” she says. “The No. 1 thing I learned from the kids is that the little things matter. One kid I took fishing was sitting with his eyes closed, arms outstretched, just feeling the wind. They notice things I never took the time to appreciate. I catch these fish every day, and when they see them, they’re like, ‘Did you know their eyes are blue?’—something I’ve never seen before.”
Trips are not just an escape for children, but also for parents. “These families have gone through the ringer,” says Whitfield. “Both the child and the parent get a day off from whatever treatment, doctor’s appointment or therapy they need to go to. In fact, I think my favorite moments from the show are when a child leans over and kisses their parent on the cheek and says, “I love you so much.” It makes me cry almost every episode.”
It’s hard not to get emotional when you see a child surprise themselves with their abilities and joy. The show emphasizes the abilities rather than the disabilities of the children as they spend a day with Whitfield.
Whitfield hopes the show will inspire others to continue her mission. “If your neighbor has Down syndrome, if you know a child with a disability, take them golfing, horseback riding, take them for a day at the beach,” says Whitfield. “Show people they can. They just have different abilities.”
After all, we never know what a person is capable of until we give them a chance to show it to us. As Whitfield says, a fish never judges. “Pisces don’t care what you like, what you’ve experienced in your past, or what you wear. So why should we?” We should all be much more like fish.
Second season of Their life My lens will begin airing on Destination America at 7pm on Monday, March 27. The show will also appear on the Pursuit Channel and Waypoint TV, but exact times have yet to be confirmed. You can learn more at chastenation.com.