Introducing… Disability Horizons

For those for those of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you will have seen a notable lack of posts from my blog and a lot of interaction with the free online magazine Disability Horizons.

Disability Horizons - free online disability magazine

Well, back in April 2011, I met the lovely Co-Editors of said magazine, Srin Madipalli and Martyn Sibley. Both are young, cool, charming, and fearless twenty-something guys who have Spinal Muscular Atrophy. They both use powered wheelchairs, hoists, electric beds and various other disabled paraphernalia, as well as needing personal PAs, but neither allow anything, disability-related or not, get in their way of enjoying life. They’re both travel-crazy adrenaline junkies, only working at their day jobs – Srin as a lawyer, and Martyn a freelance disability consultant – in order to pay for the next adventure! Check out Srin’s scuba-diving trip and Martyn’s plans to volunteer abroad.

Disability Horizons - Srin and Martyn - free online disability magazine

Knowing that we all have the same ethos – to portray disability and related issue in a positive and inspiring light  – I joined the guys in helping to build this start-up publication.

Disability Horizons promotes a unique and positive 21st Century view of disability. It aims to inform and inspire its readers to believe that everything is possible. No matter what your disability, everyone should feel that they can achieve their dreams, be confident in themselves and enjoy life to the max.

I’m thus very excited to have been asked to be the Content Editor for Disability Horizons, a website that I am passionate about being part of and ensuring that it reaches as many disabled people as possible.

As we as working with Disability Horizons, I also have a full-time job as a journalist, so the Inspire blog will have to be put on the back burner. But, as Disability Horizons is a community-driven website, with a high volume of personal stories from disabled people across the world, we would love to hear from you. Email us at disabilityhorizons@gmail.com, tweet us @DHorizons, or message us on Facebook.

I look forward to seeing you there!

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February 12, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . About me and Inspire, Entertainment, Goings on, Inspiration, News. 2 comments.

Check out the X Factor single for Together for Short Lives

In case you’ve been living under a rock, or simply been avoiding X Factor, I insist that you to listen to the charity single, Wishing on a Star. Recorded for Together for Short Lives, the finalists were joined by One Direction and JLS, to perform a cover of the song.

Together for Short Lives supports children and young adults who are not expected to reach adulthood. Children’s Hospices UK, offering practical care and respite, recently merged with ACT, who deliver information to families and professionals, to create the new charity.

Check out the video for the single on the X Factor website, and buy it from Amazon. Plus, take a look at Together for Short Lives Twitter account for pictures of the X Factor favourites visiting a hospice.

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November 27, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . Entertainment. Leave a comment.

Have you been watching Extraordinary Me?

If you haven’t had a chance to see the BBC Three series Extraordinary Me, then I highly recommend you do so!

Documenting the extraordinary lives of a variety of people, I particularly fell in love with the mini series Small Teen Bigger World, telling the story of Jazz Burkitt, a teenager with restricted growth.

Extraordinary Me Small Teen Bigger World - image - inspiremagazineuk.wordpress.com

The four episodes follow her journey into adulthood; leaving home to go to college, which meant no longer being at home to care for her mother, who also has restricted growth; finding her dad, whom she had never met; learning to drive and starting to date.

But why do I love these episodes in particular? Well firstly I appreciated how the documentary focused on her life and ‘normal dramas’, not just her disability.

Secondly, Jazz’s attitude is so refreshing. Not only is she an incredibly mature teenager with worldly views on life and disability, but she is also incredibly inspiring. I quote “difference is brilliant, difference is what makes this world.” She’s not afraid to be herself and is confident in who she is. “I’ve never hated myself or hated the way I look. I hate the way people treat me.” Very wise words.

Catch up on Extraordinary Me: Small Teen Bigger World at BBC iPlayer.

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July 29, 2011. Entertainment. 24 comments.

New film about a surfer with one arm

After loosing her arm in a shark attack at age 13, Bethany Hamilton, who had been competing since she was eight, thought she would never surf again. But after months of rehabilitation, Bethany got back into the water, and now has a whole host of awards and accolades to her name.

Soul Surfer - Bethany Hamilton - image - inspiremagazineuk.wordpress.com

Impressive you say? Well others clearly think so as Hollywood has now made a movie about her life. Soul Surfer, out now, tells the true story of her struggles after the attack, and fight to get back to the top.

Visit Bethany Hamilton‘s website for a whole host of videos.

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June 24, 2011. Tags: , , , , . Entertainment. Leave a comment.

Jono Lancaster is back on our screens in So What If My Baby Is Born Like Me?

Following on from the documentary Love Me, Love My Face featuring Jono LancasterSo What If My Baby Is Born Like Me? is the latest offering from the BBC, and looks at the dilemma parents with hereditary disabilities face when deciding whether to have children.

So What If My Child Looks Like Me- Jono Lancaster - image - inspiremagazineuk.wordpress.com

Jono Lancaster, 26, was born with Treacher Collins syndrome, a disability that has a 50% chance of being passed on to his children. Having faced hardship as a child, Jono and long-term girlfriend Laura, are unsure of whether to risk passing this disability, and its inherent problems, on to their child.

Trying to decide the right path, the programme sees the couple visit other families having faced this decision, as well as children with Treacher Collins syndrome and adults who have coped through adolescence living with the disability, and are happily out the other side!

Watch on BBC 3 tonight (19th April) at 9pm to learn a little more about this tough decision that so many face.

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April 19, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Entertainment. 13 comments.

New Channel 4 documentary about disfigurement

Starting tonight is a new four-part documentary named Katie: My Beautiful Friends, which hopes to challenge the way society views disfigurement.

Katie, who was facially disfigured by an acid attack in 2008, first appeared on TV in the documentary Katie: My Beautiful Face. Having grown to accept her disfigurement, she is turning her attention to helping others.

Katie Piper - Katie: My Beautiful Friends - image - inspiremagazine.wordpress.com

Katie: My Beautiful Friends follows Katie’s journey over the period of a year as she sets up a charity aimed at transforming the lives of those living with disfigurements, giving them the confidence to accept their abnormalities.

There seems to be a disfigurement theme on Channel 4 at the moment as this follows the series Beauty and the Beast, a show trying to change the ways of a collection of beauty-obsessed people.

Tune into Channel 4 tonight at 9pm to see Katie: My Beautiful Friends, and check out this interesting article I found about a 13-year-old boy who is proud of his facial disfigurements.

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March 22, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Entertainment. Leave a comment.

Wheelchair user joins Hollyoaks cast

Last night saw the arrival of the latest Hollyoaks cast member, Peter Mitchell, a wheelchair user who will play the new headteacher, Pete.

Peter Mitchell - Hollyoaks - image - inspiremagazineuk.wordpress.com

Peter became paralysed after a car accident in 2002, and has only since gone into acting. He has previously appeared in the mockumentary Cast Offs playing Dan.

Although from last night’s episode it’s apparent that there is some sinister back story haunting this new character – supposedly he has a grievance with Brendan – it’s not clear  whether this will centre around his wheelchair. According to Peter “he has a very strong character from the get go” – so let’s hope they don’t focus on his disability.

Pete is not the Hollyoaks first character in a wheelchair, Hayley Ramsey, played by Kelly-Marie Stewart, was a formidable and feisty character back in 2009, who left after the actress became pregnant.

Oh, and I’ve found two interesting interviews with Peter, one on the Channel 4 website and the other on BBC Ouch!. Enjoy.

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February 22, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . Entertainment. Leave a comment.

Inspire recommends… The King’s Speech

After seeing The King’s Speech on Wednesday, there is just one word I can use to describe it – brilliant.

The King's Speech - Colin Firth - image - inspiremagazineuk.wordpress.com

I’ll admit that before watching the film I knew nothing of King George VI, (played by Colin Firth) who is the current Queen‘s father. I certainly wasn’t aware that he struggled through his public life with a stammer, not ideal for someone required to frequently deliver speeches to the world.

Knowing he may have to take the throne, which he did after his older brother abdicated, King George VI sought the help of speech therapist Lionel Logue. I won’t spoil the story for you, all I’ll say is that this was an overwhelmingly touching account of the very personal problems of a very public figure.

The King's Speech - image - inspiremagazineuk.wordpress.com

Although stammering is not commonly seen as a disability, the film highlights the physical and emotional impact that it can have on a person. I don’t know if it was Colin’s acting talent, or the clever camera angles, but I felt like I was transported into King George VI‘s world, able to feel his every emotion and understand the pressure and fears that he faced.

It was the relationships King George VI had that pulled him through and gave him strength. The acceptance, patience and encouragement of those around him  – something I think we can all learn from. I hope that the film helps to shed light on this issue, which many deal with on a daily basis.

I’d love to know what you think, email me at inspiremagazineuk@googlemail.com, or comment via Facebook or Twitter.

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February 11, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Entertainment. Leave a comment.

New documentary Beauty and the Beast

This week my Wednesday night was spent watching Beauty and the Beast – no, I’m not talking about the Disney film, but a new six-part series on Channel 4, which looks at the ‘ugly face of prejudice‘.

The first episode saw 49-year-old Leo, who has had third-degree burns on his face since the age of 14, try to convince unconfident beauty addict Yasmin that attractiveness is about more than just false eyelashes and blusher.

Beauty and the Beast - image - inspiremagazineuk.wordpress.com

We also saw Adam, who has facial disfigurements due to the condition neurofibromatosis, challenge the advertising world, and British public, when it comes to portraying images of perfection. He even goes as far as recreating the iconic Beckham advert for Armani underwear.

With a staggering, but unsurprising, 9 out of 10 women in the UK being unhappy with their appearance, the show aims to break down barriers and challenge opinion on what is beautiful.

Watch the last episode on 4oD, or tune in next Wednesday (9th February) at 9pm to see the next instalment.

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February 6, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . Entertainment. 1 comment.

Actress with disabilities stars in a musical

Actress Ali Stroker, who uses a wheelchair, has been cast as the leading role in the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Milburn, N.J.

Ali Stroker - The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee musical - image - inspiremagazineuk.wordpress.com

Excitingly Ali’s character was written to be an able-bodied person. She plays Olive Ostrovsky, a young girl whose parents are often away leaving her without the love and support she desires. Appointing Ali as the starring role shows that her acting abilities, and probably good looks, were what convinced the casting directors to taking her on in the role. Although Ali feels her disability ‘does add another element to the character’, it isn’t mentioned.

Ali hopes her success will raise the profile of actors and actresses with disabilities; ‘I am happy that I was cast in a part that isn’t specifically a disabled person, but I also hope producers realize that it is important to at least audition people that are disabled for roles when the characters are disabled.’

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is touring the world and will be in the UK, but sadly Ali won’t be part of the cast. If only I had enough money to pop to America to see a musical!

See Ali performing Here where I stand:

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January 21, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Entertainment. Leave a comment.

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