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!

atlanta skyline

Go Out and Enjoy Summer: Eight Family-Friendly and Accessible Destinations in Atlanta

Did you know that the city of Atlanta was previously named Terminus because it was at the end of a railroad? No longer known as the last stop for trains, today’s Atlanta has lots of family-friendly venues, where your family can create fun memories this summer. All of these destinations are wheelchair accessible so that everyone can get out and enjoy what Atlanta has to offer!

1. Georgia Aquarium

The nation’s largest aquarium is home to four whale sharks, the sea’s largest fish. See them along with four manta rays and thousands of other sea creatures from an underwater perspective as you travel through a 100-foot tunnel. It’s all part of Ocean Voyager, one of the world’s largest aquatic exhibits. Aquanaut Adventures are another exciting reason to visit the aquarium. Each of the seven routes has seven adventures to take part in to learn more about aquatic life, marine science careers, and marine habitats. Staff members are trained to assist guests with mobility challenges who would like to have an experience with one of the aquarium’s touch pools.

a group of people looks at a giant fish tank at the Georgia aquarium

2. The Children’s Museum of Atlanta

Learning through play is the focus of The Children’s Museum of Atlanta. This summer the museum is hosting Doc McStuffins: The Exhibit. Visitors can explore the McStuffins Toy Hospital and enjoy taking care of the hospital’s toy patients. Also, permanent exhibits provide fun ways to learn about science, tools, food and much more. It is sure to be a good time and totally wheelchair accessible for kids and parents who roll.

3. Legoland Discovery Center

Meet your favorite Lego characters, take a Lego factory tour, and build as much as you like at Legoland Discovery Center. It’s a great place for an all-day outing. In fact, you can enjoy lunch in the on-site cafe, catch a movie in the 4D cinema, and see local buildings recreated in miniature.

4. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park

Explore important places in the life of the civil right leader and learn more about this important chapter in American history. The park’s visitor center has an exhibit called Children of Courage, which teaches little ones about the civil rights movement. The International World Peace Rose Garden, King’s birth home (second floor accessible by elevator chair lift), and the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church that King co-pastored are some of the attractions at the site. Admission to the park is free.

5. Zoo Atlantazoo atlanta sign

While the pandas may be the zoo’s most famous residents, there’s a lot more to see and do at Zoo Atlanta. Observe a feeding, listen and ask questions at a keeper’s talk, or meet an ambassador animal. The zoo’s pathways are easy to roll on and keep an eye out for signs to designate special special wheelchair access.

6. Fernbank Science Center

See the actual Apollo 6 Command Module. Check out live poison dart frogs, turtles, snakes, spiders, and other animals. Catch a show in the Jim Cherry Memorial Planetarium at Fernbank Science Center and come at night to take a look through the observatory’s telescope. Admission and parking are free at Fernbank Science Center. Planetarium shows have a nominal fee.

7. Atlanta Botanical Garden

The Piedmont Avenue location has 30 acres of beautiful outdoor gardensto explore. During summer, a nature-inspired story time takes place on Wednesday mornings in the children’s garden. Complimentary wheelchairs are available for rent on a first-come, first-serve basis.

8. SunTrust Park

Go, Braves! For baseball fans, enjoying a game at the ballpark is one of the great joys of summer. To ensure all guests have a great game day experience, there’s an Accessible Seating Department to help you find parking and seating. Call them at (404) 577-9100 (Option 5). Further, tickets purchased through that department come with a Welcome Kit and a Braves Exceptional Fan Credential.

sky view Atlanta Ferris wheel

With a variety of fun, wheelchair accessible things to do in Atlanta, it’s a great city to experience, whether you’re a local or a visitor! Top any night off with Skyview Atlanta – a 200-ft Ferris wheel overlooking Centennial Olympic Park – it’s wheelchair accessible!

Need to rent a wheelchair accessible vehicle for your Atlanta adventures? AMS Vans has got you covered! Give us a call at 800-775-8267!

5 Actors on Wheels Making Moves in Hollywood

The characters we see on film and TV are becoming more and more diverse. It’s not uncommon these days to see a character with a disability in a show or movie. In the past, though, most actors portraying those characters were played by actors without disabilities. But, thanks to the hard work and perseverance of many dedicated individuals, people with disabilities are taking their rightful place in Hollywood among the stars.

Here are some actors on wheels that have made a name for themselves in the entertainment biz.

1. Micah Fowler

actor micah fowler

Micah Fowler, Image: IMDB

What did you get for your eighteenth birthday? For Micah, he got a lead role in a TV series. The show Speechless is about JJ, a young adult living with cerebral palsy. It aims at giving viewers insights on the challenges faced by people, and specifically teens, with special needs. They tackle issues like dating, parenting, disability awareness, healthcare and more.

Born in 1998 in New Jersey, he started acting when he was five because of his older sister and best friend, Kelsey. He took the next step in his career after his sister booked a role on Broadway. This led him to roles in Blue’s CluesSesame Street, and the film Labor DayMicah is also an ambassador to the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and devotes his time to the foundation’s efforts when not performing.

2. Teal Sherer

actress teal sherer

Teal Sherer, Image: IMDB

Teal went from taking theatre classes in college and working on school productions, to starring in the Emmy nominated film Warm Springs alongside Kathy Bates, and working closely with Kenneth Branagh as he prepared for his role of Franklin D. Roosevelt. She has appeared on TV on Survivor’s Remorse, The Guild, and more recently on NCIS: New Orleans. Also a dancer, Teal has performed with the Full Radius Dance Company and appeared on the NBC pilot of I’m with Stupid.

Teal is well-known in the disability community for her web series My Gimpy Life, which won the 2013 Best Female Comedy Performance at the Web Television Awards. She has also been featured in national commercials for clients including Liberty Mutual insurance, Disneyland (Cars Land) and Chrysler.

Next up for Teal, she’ll be starring in the Pulitzer Prize winning play Cost of Living in Vancouver, Canada! And, we’re sure much more!

3. Daryl ‘Chill’ Mitchell

actor daryl Chill Mitchell holding an award

Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, Image: NewMobility.com

Daryl ‘Chill’ Mitchell is without a doubt one of the most recognizable faces when it comes to actors who roll, with film and TV credits dating back to the 80’s. His staying power is a testament to his work ethic and likable personality – and we can expect to see Chill on the big screen for years to come.

Starting as a member of a hip hop group in the 1980’s, he saw further success in acting with roles in films like House Party, The Inside Man, Galaxy Quest and 10 Things I Hate About You, to name a few. He also made appearances in TV shows like The Cosby Show, Becker, Brothers and Desperate Housewives. Since 2014 he has had a role on NCIS: New Orleans and joined the cast of Fear The Walking Dead in 2018.

Chill has paved the way for so many other actors on wheels -and we’re really proud to have as a customer here at AMS Vans in Atlanta!

4. Ali Stroker

actress and Tony award winner Ali Stroker

Ali Stroker, Image: AliStroker.com

You may have heard Ali Stroker‘s name recently, as she just became the first performer in a wheelchair to win a Tony Award for her role of Ado Annie in the revival of the classic Broadway show Oklahoma!!

She has performed at the Kennedy and Lincoln Centers, earned a Barrymore Award nomination for her role in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and was cast as Tamara in ABC’s show Ten Days in the Valley. A talented singer as well, Ali was a finalist on the second season of The Glee Project, and later appeared as a guest star on Glee in 2013. She played the role of Anna in Deaf West’s 2015 revival of Spring Awakening and appeared on the new Lethal Weapon TV series.

Being the first isn’t new to Ali Stroker. In fact, she became the first actress in a wheelchair to earn a degree in Fine Arts from New York University in 2009. Further, in 2015, she became the first performer in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway. If you have kids, you may have also seen her cameos on Sesame Street!

5. Santina Muha

actor and comedian Santina Muha

Santina Muha, Image: IMDB

Growing up in New Jersey as a member of an extended Italian family, humor has been a big part of Muha’s life. Paralyzed at the age of 6 after being involved in a car accident, she found that comedy would often ease the tension in a room. Santina grew up studying pop culture and learning from her favorite actors on TV – and from a young age, it was clear she was destined for stardom. Today she is a comic, actress, writer, storyteller and improviser currently plying her trade in Los Angeles.

Since joining UCB in 2013, Santina has contributed to their shows; hosting Rollin’ with my Homies, and writing and performing her one-woman show, That Girl in the Wheelchair. Not only is Santina raising awareness and dismantling stereotypes for people in wheelchairs through her comedy and writing, but she is also improving physical access to stages around UCB that have never been accessible before.

Santina is best known for her roles on Comedy Bang! Bang!One Day at a Time and starring opposite Joaquin Phoenix in Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. Keep an eye out for this Jersey girl, because you’ll be seeing much more of her!

If you're an actor in a wheelchair, Hollywood is ready for you! With dedication and hard work, your dream can come to life! #actorswithdisabilities Click To Tweet

 

Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Father’s Day

father and daughter hugging outdoors

Father’s Day is just around the corner and if you’re still searching for the perfect gift, you’ve come to the right place! We’ve curated a list of top gifts for Dad’s who roll (and also for those who don’t).

Here’s our list of six great gifts for Dad this Father’s Day.

Apple Watch

An Apple Watch is a great gift for Dads looking to track their fitness levels. But did you know that they have special features built in to accommodate wheelchair users? The Watch’s activity app can record its’ users rolls, exercise, and movement goals. It has specially designed sensors built in to consider various surfaces or inclines. Plus, with Siri’s voice recognition (and more coming soon) technology, users can begin playlists or workouts without even clicking a button.

Apple Watch wheelchair feature

Image: Apple

An #AppleWatch is a versatile gift that's a great option for Dad's of varying abilities. Whether he's tracking workouts, listening to music during a roll or feeling his child's heartbeat from afar, it's a gift he'll sure to love. Click To Tweet

Water Bottle

While on the go, it can be easy to get thirsty or even dehydrated – and that concern can be heightened for people with paralysis. That’s why a water bottle is a fantastic gift idea for Dads too busy to stop for a drink. YETI offers a variety of insulated water bottles that will keep drinks cool (or warm if the weather’s frosty). You could also opt for a hands-free water bottle that’s slightly more convenient. water bottles

Drink Holder

If your Dad is in a wheelchair, you may want to give him a place to stash his awesome new water bottle. Why not grab him a bottle water holder that can attach directly to his chair? This drink holder from Sheer Living can do just that.

Audible Streaming Service Gift Card

Audiobooks have surged in popularity in recent years, and they pair great with the gifts mentioned previously on this list. What better way to get through a daily roll than to listen to some of your favorite audiobooks?

Audiobooks are a great alternative to listening to music – it enables your Dad to listen to his favorite books while working out, traveling, or doing just about anything. If he has a morning or afternoon commute, an audiobook can make it that much more riveting.

Audible offers a variety of gift options for membership plans, including: books with headphones

  • 1 month for $15
  • 3 months for $45
  • 6 months for $90
  • One year for $150

For the voracious listening Dad in your life, the one-year subscription is the best value. It saves you $30 off the standard monthly rate. Each month your Dad will get a new book, with the option to purchase more if he chooses.

Think about that: 12 books for $150, which averages out to about $12.50 a book. That beats the rates at any bookstore. This option is highly recommended for any readers who want a new and innovative way to experience reading.

Apparel and Accessories from Zappos Adaptive

If your Dad gets around on wheels, consider getting him some disability-friendly shoes, apparel, or other accessories from Zappos Adaptive. They have options such as:

  • Slip-on shoes
  • Sensory friendly clothing
  • Orthotic shoes
  • Adaptive jeans
  • Post-surgical wear
  • Pull-on pants

Plus many more options available on their website. Functional fashion is an option for the guy in your life!!

Board Games

Great for a rainy day or just to keep Dad’s mind sharp, board games can be fun for you, your Dad, and the whole family. They come in a variety of styles and formats, so no matter how your Dad likes to compete, there’s something for him. Card games, strategy games, role-playing games and more are just a few of the options you’ll have when looking for the perfect game for Father’s Day.

family spelled in scrabble tiles

How About a New Mobility Vehicle for Dad?

If your Dad is in the market for a new wheelchair-accessible vehicle or adaptive driving aids, you’ll be happy to know we’ve got him covered at AMS Vans! We have a huge selection of new and used mobility vehicles available for purchase, lease and rent! We also offer nationwide delivery and service and unmatched customer service! Take advantage of our Summer Savings and view inventory here.

Lastly, don’t ever underestimate the value of a hug or a phone call and some good quality time! Here’s to a day full of dad jokes!

Diverse & Inclusive Toys for Kids Who Roll

Lego boy in wheelchair playing ball with his friends in the park as disability-friendly toys.

Lego boy in wheelchair playing ball with his friends in the park

Playing is one of the most important parts of any child’s healthy development. In the past, kids with special needs didn’t have access to many toys or heroes that represented disabilities – and that can impact a young person’s self image. Thankfully, it’s now much easier to find inclusive toys that represent people with disabilities as major toy manufacturers begin to think more inclusively.

We put together a list of cool, inclusive toys and books for kids who roll! #AMSVans #SpecialNeedsKids Click To Tweet

Hot Wheels Wheelie Chair

This cool chair was created to resemble extreme adaptive athlete Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham‘s WCMX wheelchair. You may already know, Aaron Fotheringham is an extreme wheelchair athlete with spina bifida who was the pioneer of WCMX riding, in which people perform tricks and flips with their wheelchairs, similar to the way a skateboarder uses his board.  Aaron travels the globe with groups like Nitro Circus – and has landed amazing tricks, including the world’s first double backflip in a wheelchair. If you get this toy for a kid you know, be sure to pull up some YouTube videos of Aaron doing his thing! But, be sure to mention not to try this at home (at least, not without proper instruction and gear)!

hotwheels wcmx wheelie chair

Photos of the Hotwheels Wheelie Chair in action, courtesy of Aaron Fotheringham.

Lego Wheelchair Minifigure

What kids doesn’t love legos? Fans celebrated in the summer of 2016, when Lego introduced a minifigure in a wheelchair as part of its City line. The tiny figure features a detachable wheelchair in the same style as other Lego accessories. The achievement was in response to an online petition by Toy Like Me, which had over 20,000 signatures and encouraged toy companies to represent more diversity. The petition urged many toy companies to start creating disability-friendly, inclusive toys.

Wheelchair Barbie

Amidst lots of hype from the media, Mattel has plans in June, to introduce a barbie in a wheelchair and a Barbie with a prosthetic leg. Although Mattel has sold wheelchair Barbies in the past, such as Becky Barbie, there are none currently being sold. This summer, these dolls should be available everywhere to promote inclusiveness and raise the visibility of people with disabilities. Kids can expect the traditional Barbie look that they’v grown to love, with long hair and large eyes – but with the diversity we’ve been missing.

barbies fashionistas line including barbie in wheelchair

Soon, Barbies will represent better diversity! Image: Mattel

American Girl

These classic dolls, which are based on the equally popular American Girl books, can represent a wide range of disabilities. American Girl dolls are fully customizable, so you can get a doll that looks just like your child. Then, you can choose from a number of accessories associated with disabilities, including a wheelchair, crutches, hearing aids, diabetes kits, glasses and a walking stick for kids that have seeing impairments. American Girl has long been cherished as a company that provides inclusive toys with diverse representation. The books are also fun, too. They’re full of adventures featuring girls from all over the world and many time periods.

Books for Kids in the Disability Community

In addition to inclusive toys, there are quite a few children’s books about characters with disabilities. A popular one for kids who roll is called Don’t Call me Special: A First Look at Disability. Some other good ones include Meet ClaraBelle Blue by Adiba Nelson, about a little girl living with cerebral palsy, or Mama Zooms by Jane Cowen-Fletcher, about having a parent who uses a wheelchair. This is just the tip of the iceberg for diverse children’s books. For more, search Google or ask your librarian!

mother and baby reading

There are tons of children’s books out there featuring characters with disabilities!

 

Do you have a favorite inclusive toy or children’s book celebrating disability that we missed? Let us know and we’ll include it in a future blog!!