Teddy bears with disabilities

Did you know that even teddy bears can have disabilities?…

Teaching children about difference and the inclusion of others is such an important aspect of fighting disabalism. So I was thrilled to see this child’s teddy bear in a wheelchair from Rackety’s.

Teddy in a wheelchair - children's toys - image - inspiremagazineuk.wordpress.com

Plus, after a little more Googling, I also came across this wheelchair from Build-a-Bear Workshop. Brilliant!

Teddy bear wheelchair - children's toys - image - inspiremagazneuk.wordpress.com

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May 9, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Inspiration. 3 comments.

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.

Blind photographer in new Nokia advert

I don’t normally pay attention to phone adverts, but the new Nokia TV ad for the N8 smartphone camera caught my eye as it features blind photographer Gary Waite.

Talking about his experiences with photography and capturing the world around him, Gary demonstrates how “being blind and using photography opens a door to the rest of the world.” He uses his other senses, such as sound, to capture moments, like the movement of a rollercoaster above him.

At the age of 49, Gary has only recently become a photographer, thanks to the encouragement of the charity PhotoVoice, which help people with disabilities to find their own way of communicating and representing their view of the world. Having become blind 10 only years ago due to the eye disorder retinitis pigmentosa, Gary has found a new sense of self through photography.

But enough of me waffling on, check it out for yourself!

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March 4, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Inspiration. 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.

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.

Disability blog watch – Reflections on Treacher Collins syndrome

Trawl the Internet for just one moment and you will come across a great variety of fantastic disability-related blogs and personal websites. With that in mind, I thought I would start a regular post introducing you to some of the best and most inspiring entries.

I start with the personal website Reflections on Treacher Collins syndrome by Amie. If you read my last post about Jono Lancaster and the documentary Love Me, Love My Face, you’ll know that Treacher Collins syndrome is a condition from birth that distorts the growth of cheekbones.

Amie, who is in her own words ‘your typical, garden-variety human being’, a physician and married with two cats, also has Treacher Collins syndrome.

Her site is a great resource for others who might be struggling with the condition, with a focus on personal achievement and building confidence. It includes valuable links to other inspirational articles that have helped Amie cope with the way people view her and Treacher Collins syndrome. She even has a top ten brilliant reasons why she loves being different. And as the initial page on her site asserts, ‘what matters most is how you see yourself.’

Amie - Treacher Collins syndrome - image - inspiremagazineuk.wordpress.com

If you have an inspiring personal blog or know of one you would like me to feature please contact me at inspiremagazineuk@googlemail.com. Or follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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December 13, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . Inspiration. 7 comments.

X Factor supports Help for Heroes

X Factor will once again this year be supporting Help for Heroes, the charity dedicated to assisting wounded soldiers. The 16 finalists last night performed their cover of David Bowie’s Heroes, which is available to buy from today, all proceeds of which will go to the charity.

As well as their performance, which I noticed Wagner didn’t make much of a vocal contribution to, we also heard the story of one soldier disabled by the war in Afghanistan, Lance Corporal Matthew Wilson. After stepping on a hidden bomb on a routine patrol, Matthew lost a leg from the knee down and severely injured his arm. Unable to return to duty, the charity has been vital in giving Matthew back his confidence and life, offering him a scholarship to pursue a new dream to become a pilot. As his mum so beautifully put it “our country needs heroes like my son, sometimes our heroes need a little help too.”

X Factor single - Help for Heroes - Matthew Wilson - image - inspiremagazineuk.wordpress.com

Visit YouTube to see the performance from last night, and the X Factor website to buy single.

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November 22, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Inspiration. 1 comment.

DadaFest starts today!

DadaFest, the annual festival promoting deaf and disabled art, starts today (19th November) and runs until the 3rd of December. Based in Liverpool and in its 10th year, the festival displays an array of events with this year’s theme being objects of curiosity and desire. Events range from workshops such as film making and multi sensory art, to theatrical shows of comedy and poignant drama, to burlesque and drink-fuelled dancing, to lectures and discussions, and to art instillations and poetry. With so much to explore, there really is something for everyone.

DadaFest International events - disability arts - image - inspiremagazineuk.wordpress.com

And this year the festival is expanding to Scotland, with a highlighted selection of the events. But don’t despair if you can’t get to either of these locations as you can take a look at some of the images from the shows in DadaFest’s gallery, and learn more about the artists. For full listings of the events visit Dada Fest International 2010‘s website.

DadaFest International events - wheelchair dancing - image - inspiremagazineuk.wordpress.com

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November 19, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Goings on. Leave a comment.

7/7 bomb survivor becomes Paralympic hopeful

Martine Wiltshire, a victim of the 7/7 London bombings who lost both her legs as a result of the attack, is planning to compete in the 2012 Paralympic games. Since the bombings in 2005, Martine has learned to fly, and is now a member of the Great British women’s sitting volleyball team who hope to enter the 2012 games.

7/7 bombings - Martine Wiltshire - image - inspiremagazineuk.wordpress.com

At the recent inquest into the 7/7 bombings, Martine, who gave evidence, was praised by coroner Lady Justice Hallett for her courage calling her ‘truly inspirational and a triumph of human spirit over dreadful adversity‘. I couldn’t agree more. Good luck in the Paralympics Martine!

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November 3, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Inspiration. 1 comment.

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