Fun

Did you see the T-shirt with the blue, universal wheelchair symbol on the front? The words around it—“I’m in it for the parking.” At AMS Vans, we tip our hat to whoever came up with that one! For obvious reasons, the Fun section is one of the most popular in our AMS Vans blog. Clearly, people with disabilities have a sense of humor, and we encourage it. Humor helps lift your spirits, and it helps put other people at ease. Expect a less-than-successful sports experience, a clever cartoon, a laughable personal situation or just a laugh-out-loud story when you’re looking here for FUN!

Venture out on Amazing Virtual Tours Without Leaving Home

Sometimes we’re stuck at home and we go a little stir crazy. For those with limited mobility issues, this is a common occurrence. Thanks to today’s modern technology, we’re able to venture out to places all over the world. In this light, here are some amazing virtual tours we can take right from the comfort of our couch.

Walk The Great Wall of China

We’ll begin our online VR tour at one of the seven wonders of the modern world by exploring The Great Wall of China. Stretching thousands of miles across several provinces of northern Asia, it’s one of the most impressive structures on our planet. Additionally, you won’t need a plane ticket or passport to virtually stroll one of China’s most popular tourist attractions.

Visit National Parks

The United States National Parks services and Google Arts & Culture platform have teamed up to offer at least five epic virtual adventures for tourists to enjoy from indoors. These virtual tours include exploring:

  • The glaciers and waterways of the Kenai Fjords in the Alaskan wilderness offer a lot. Indeed, it includes a kayak ride through these marine straits and a hike across the tundra
  • A fiery lava tube in a Hawaiian volcano along with a virtual flight over an island mountain
  • Go spelunking through a few of over 100 caves at the Carlsbad Caverns in the desert of southern New Mexico
  • The VR tour of Bryce Canyon in Utah centers around the beautiful red and orange desert landscape. Further, it begins on Sunset Point where virtual visitors enjoy a star-filled night sky
  • Lastly, dry Tortugas is a remote park located 70 miles from Key West. You won’t need to book a seaplane or boat to get there to visit Fort Jefferson

On the National Park Foundation website, virtual tourists will find even more of these grounds to experience via a screen including Crater Lake and live webcams in many popular locations. Some of these sites include the Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson, and Martin Luther King, Jr. memorials.

Explore Yosemite

One of the most popular and visited National Parks, at Virtual Yosemite visitors are able to explore everything this location is famous for from Half Dome to Glacier Point and more. Explore over 200 locations within Yosemite and its surrounding areas during different seasons. The stunning 360° interactive and panoramic views present high-resolution photography and videos. Yosemite presents spectacular vistas from the top the cliffs and waterfalls with peaceful locations found along trails.

Visit a Multitude of Museums

The largest collection of artwork on the planet is found at The Louvre gallery in Paris, France and is accessible without a transatlantic trek. See ancient Egyptian antiquities. Then, explore the remains of the fortress’s underground moat from when this location was a fortress. Other monumental museums and locations to experience include:

  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation in New York City is another memorable and magnificent place to explore both indoors and out also available from the Google Arts & Culture platform
  • The largest collection of artwork from the world-renowned Dutch post-impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh is found at his namesake museum in Amsterdam housing hundreds of his paintings and letters
  • Lastly, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History near our nation’s capital is home to many of our country’s national treasures. Indeed, virtual visitors are able to experience former, current, permanent exhibits, and much more

Dive Underwater

There are several virtual dives available from the National Marine Sanctuary website that are accessible 24/7 without the need for scuba equipment. Among the many underwater areas to explore include an immersive dive alongside sea lions in a VR video. Other presentations offer a 360° experience when scenic and aquatic photos are “stitched” together for panoramic views under the sea.

Find More Amazing Virtual Tours

When you’re in the market to buy or sell a handicapped-accessible van, AMS is America’s Superstore! We have hundreds of choices including side and rear entry models. Additionally, we have a selection of vans priced under $30K. Check out our inventory of new and used models for better mobility and reliability.

Great News for Parents and Kids With Disabilities: Award-Winning Children’s Books and a Night to Shine

Great News for Parents and Kids With Disabilities: Award-Winning Children's Books and a Night to Shine

Reading children’s books in the library.

Often children with disabilities don’t feel the same type of inclusion as other kids and parents struggle with this fact. Thankfully ‘the times they are a-changing’ as some would say. Given more young people being diagnosed with mental issues like autism, a type of physical, or other limitation is finally receiving the same type of spotlight and recognition in today’s media as those who are not challenged in some way.

Firstly, let’s take a look at these award-winning children’s books featuring differently-abled youngsters starring in title roles inside these novellas. In January 2020, the American Library Association named three winners and three honorees of its Schneider Family Book Awards. These honorees have been recognized recently for their contributory roles as authors and illustrators. They portray the youth disability experience. There are three age-related categories given annually:

Young Children in Children’s Books

The winner in this group goes to a title written by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in, “Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You,” encouraging children to communicate with their fellows to embrace and accept their unique differences which makes them stronger. Also, “A Friend For Henry“, written by Jenn Bailey, is about friendship as told from a boy with autism.

Elementary and Middle School Grades in Children’s Books

A Song for a Whale” by Lynne Kelly won the award for her tale about a twelve-year-old deaf child. They go on a quest to help a whale who can’t communicate with other whales. In the honorary category, “Each Tiny Spark” won. It follows a daughter whose father returns home from military deployment a changed man as the result of PTSD.

High Schoolers and Teens in Children’s Books

Karol Ruth Silverstein won in the teenage category for her portrayal of a young girl with juvenile arthritis in “Cursed“. Meanwhile, Alison Gervais received the honorary status for her story of a deaf student adjusting to a high school. Everyone else can hear in “The Silence Between Us“.

The winners in each of these categories will receive $5,000 and a framed plaque in a presentation. These occur during the library association’s annual conference held every June in Chicago.

A Night to Remember

Attending prom is a high school ritual. It is a rite of passage for many teenagers. However, it’s more than just a dance or a reason to get all dressed up and hang out with adolescent friends. It’s an evening where all students, no matter where they sit during lunchtime, what clubs or cliques they belong to, instead, it’s a time to come together for a party one last time before graduation.

Many kids who are disabled either from socially-related mental disorders or have mobility issues, often don’t feel really comfortable in these type of party settings. This shouldn’t stop these students from attending one of these functions and thanks to former NFL superstar Tim Tebow’s namesake foundation and hundreds of churches across the country and all around the world, today’s ‘Prom’ is now for everyone.

A Night to Shine

Held prior to Valentine’s Day annually, A Night to Shine puts all of these unique teens in Prom’s premium spotlight regardless of their limitations. Indeed, every year these unique venues feature a red carpet entrance complete with friendly paparazzi.

Prior to arrival at Prom, there are limos provided (or other specially-equipped types of transportation available) and typically feature shoe-shining services along with hair and makeup stations. These spectacular events include a traditional Prom with a delicious dinner, live music, and a brightly-lit dance floor.

Learn More About These Children’s Books

Our hearts go out to The Tim Tebow Foundation along with churches all over the world who sponsor these events. Further, we’d like to salute Six Flags for providing a one-day, safer place to play for those youngsters with Autism.

8+ Excellent Movies With Disabled, Mentally or Mobility Challenged Main Characters

8+ Excellent Movies With Disabled, Mentally or Mobility Challenged Main Characters

In 2019, actress Ali Stroker made history by becoming the first person confined to a wheelchair to win a Tony for her performance in a revival of the Broadway classic Oklahoma! In a moving speech, Stroker emotionally dedicated the award to, “every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation, or a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena… you are.”

We’d like to dedicate these eight movies showcasing characters who are disabled, mentally, or mobility challenged to Ali Stroker. While those with limitations have often been underserved in title roles, we’re happy to see them in the limelight.

1. The Miracle Worker

Based on a true story, a caregiver struggles to connect with an unruly, deaf, mute, and blind child. Further, the role provided a young Patty Duke an Oscar for her role as Helen Keller. Movies like The Miracle Worker and The Elephant Man are often considered classic and cornerstone films that bring the real-life struggles of those who are different to audiences everywhere.

2. A Beautiful Mind

Based on a true story, A Beautiful Mind tells Nobel Prize-winning, schizophrenic mathematician, John Forbes’ story. Further, the film won an Oscar statue for director Ron Howard and actress Jennifer Connelly for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress respectfully.

3. Benny & Joon

Benny (Aidan Quinn) cares for his younger sister Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson) who navigates several unspecified forms of mental illnesses. Soon Sam (Johnny Depp) enters the picture and begins to woo Joon with his Charlie Chaplin-like charm and antics. As the pair begins to fall in love, Benny contemplates sending Joon to live in a group home.

4. Children of a Lesser God

Marlee Matlin was the first (and still only) deaf person to receive an Academy Award for her portrayal alongside William Hurt in Children of a Lesser God. In the film, Hurt is a new teacher at a school for the deaf. His challenge is getting former student Matlin to use her spoken voice instead of relying on sign language. A romantic relationship develops between the two despite the emotionally distant and bitter background suffered by Matlin’s character of Sarah.

5. I Am Sam

In an Oscar-nominated performance, Sean Penn delivered an epic performance as the title role in I Am Sam. Penn portrays a developmentally disabled man fighting to retain custody of his seven-year-old daughter played by Dakota Fanning. Indeed, based on a true story, Sam’s struggle comes to light as his daughter’s growing mental capabilities begin to surpass his own.

6. The Theory of Everything

Based on real-life events, The Theory of Everything relates the relationship of Stephen Hawking with fellow student Jane Wilde. At the age of twenty-one, the couple discovers Hawking has a motor neuron disease. According to his doctor, he has little time left to live. Despite the terrible news, they begin an ambitious study of time, breaking new grounds in the fields of science and medicine.

7. My Left Foot

Born with cerebral palsy, Christy Brown (Daniel Day-Lewis) only has control over a single limb, his left foot. However, early on, Brown astonishes his impoverished family by scrawling the word ‘mother’ on the floor with a piece of chalk gripped with the toes on his left foot. This truly remarkable man goes on to become an accomplished writer and painter in Ireland.

8. Simon Birch

We recently showcased Simon Birch as a choice for a fantastic, lesser-known, family-friendly movie to watch and would like to highlight a fun fact about the film. The actor who played the title character, Ian Michael Smith was born with Morquio Syndrome also known as MPSIVA which affects the skeletal structure and causes dwarfism. However, even with his smaller stature at just over three feet tall, this little boy has a big purpose in this spiritually inspirational film. It also stars Ashley Judd and Oliver Platt.

BONUS: Soul Surfer

Every teen going through a hard time needs to watch Soul Surfer, the true tale of thirteen-year-old Bethany Hamilton. Indeed, she loses her arm in a shark attack. Not only does this brave gal get back on the surfboard again, but she also finds a higher purpose in life by helping others.

Crip Camp Documentary on Netflix

Crip Camp Documentary on Netflix

Activism, disabilities, and summer camp may not seem like they would all belong together. However, they all intersected in the 1970’s for campers at Camp Jened. Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution outlines the lives of campers, their experiences with disabilities, and becoming activists for themselves and others like them.

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution 

This documentary draws watchers into a history lesson on a camp for disabled youth and the revolution that followed. The campers’ disabilities ranged from spina bifida to cerebral palsy and more. The camp’s goal was to be inclusive to all with disabilities.

This camp was set up to be like most other summer camps and provided the campers with the ability to explore, play, and learn more than they ever thought possible. The documentary focuses on the summer of 1971 and the campers that finally felt like their disabilities would no longer hold them back. It follows some of the campers through the years and the changes they helped make for others with disabilities that came along after them.

These teenagers joined the camp in hopes of enjoying summer, exploring, and participating in sports. What they did not expect was everything else they got. They began to feel less isolated. The campers experimented with smoking, making out, and finally feeling included. They participated in more than they had before and saw others with similar disabilities coming together.

The campers also discussed the discrimination they faced and how many other disabled teenagers had been institutionalized. Camp Jened provided the backdrop for many to feel empowered and they want to change the future for themselves as well as others.

Camp Jened

This camp is where these campers came together. Camp Jened is in the Catskills in New York. The camp is a real place that brought many teenagers together throughout the years. It was opened in 1951 and ran for many years. In 1977, the owners had to close down due to financial reasons. The camp reopened in 1980 for another 29 years. It closed down in 2009 and has remained closed since then.

The Build to a Revolution

As the campers discussed politics and what they faced with their disabilities, their passions grew. This led many of the campers and counselors to become activists for themselves and those with disabilities. None of the campers dreamed that their learning and fun would lead to something bigger.

Judy Huemann, a Camp Jened counselor, is featured in this documentary. She spearheaded many protests and played a major role in fighting for the American Disabilities Act. In 1977, among the 300 disabled protestors, Huemann and others from the camp planned a protest against the regulations being placed on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The protestors went to the Housing, Education, and Welfare office in San Francisco. The plan was not for a sit-in to take place, but that is what they did. Eleven days passed with them in the building to show their support for those with disabilities and improving their political standing. Eventually, ABC News played footage of the protest and secretary of health, education, and welfare Joseph Califano dismissing the protestors. The protestors won when Califano banned discriminatory regulations by signing the legislation.

The Effect of Crip Camp

Not many have heard of this civil rights movement and Crip Camp brings it to light. Not only did Camp Jened empower the campers, but it also led to political wins for those with disabilities.

This documentary shows the real lives of those with disabilities in the 1970s to today. Not only do viewers get to see their adventures at camp, but they are also exposed to the victories for those with disabilities.

Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution is available now on Netflix. If you are looking for an uplifting, powerful movie- Crip Camp will provide that and so much more.