Tag Archives: disabilities

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.

The New Mattel Hot Wheel Is a Wheelchair Model Die-Cast Car

father and son playing with The New Mattel Hot Wheel Is a Wheelchair Model Die-Cast Car

For over 50 years, Mattel’s Hot Wheels die-cast cars have been a smashing success with children of all ages. Many kids grow up to collect classic cars and newer models hitting the marketplace.

Brief Hot Wheel History

The first set of die-cast Hot Wheel cars came out in 1968 in a lineup called “Sweet 16”. The original set included custom designs based on hot rods available in the real world reflecting California’s custom car culture. Some of the beloved automobiles available during initial release were customized versions of the Chevy Camaro, Ford Mustang, and Volkswagen Beetle.

Mattel’s co-founder, Elliot Handler, envisioned tiny hot rods while playing with his children in 1966. At the time, he realized die-cast cars were lackluster in their performance and not very agile. Indeed, there was a lack of variety of models and variations. After his first prototype rolled off the production line, Handler exclaimed, “Those are some hot wheels!” So the title for the new toys was born and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Wheelie HW Ride-On Chair

Over a half-century after the first Hot Wheel, the creative minds at Mattel dreamt up a new design called the Wheelie Chair. The model resembles the actual wheelchair ridden in real life by Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham. For those unaware, Fotheringham is an extreme wheelchair athlete. The BMX-inspired, skateboard-related stunts are nothing short of spectacular.

It was Aaron who coined the phrase, “It’s a wheelchair, not a prison” and you can check out a video of him performing tricks and taking flight in one of his many online videos. Fotheringham is an inspiration to many people regardless of their abilities and reminds us all to live our best self and not to let obstacles stand in the way of our success.

Miniaturized Riders

A wheelchair needs a rider so Mattel partnered with the Lego brand of building blocks to equip their Wheelie chairs with an operator from their miniature figurine MegaBloks collection. Any of the Lego minifigs will snap into place on the specially designed ride-on chairs as their hands can clip onto the rail that extends from one side, across the rear, and onto the other side as well. The figurines are also able to grasp part of the base that extends past the footrest.

To emulate Aaron’s, the chair is lime green with bright orange wheels. Further, it comes with licensed decor from the daredevil. Fotheringham’s image and signature are on the packaging.

Perfect Pairing

Hot Wheels paired with Aaron Fotheringham and the Danish Lego toymaker makes a fun addition to Mattel’s kid-friendly products. It was the brainchild of Mattel Designer Alvin Chan as part of the 2019 Hot Wheels “C” case assortment. Children of all abilities request this particular addition. Then, purchased by collectors looking to add to their beloved inventory of Hot Wheels.

Learn More About the New Mattel Hot Wheel

When you’re in the market for an actual, full-sized vehicle capable of transporting a wheelchair and its real-life occupant, check out our inventory of handicapped accessible vans. We’ve got hundreds of these specially designed vehicles available.

An Introduction to 5 Sports Organizations for People With Disabilities

Disabled basketball player bouncing the ball for sports

Dribbling a basketball on the court.

A physical disability doesn’t have to keep you out of the game. Indeed, several organizations provide people with disabilities an opportunity to show their abilities through sports.

Disabled Sports USA

This organization helps people with permanent disabilities increase their independence and confidence through adaptive sports. The organization serves youth and adults via its network of 140 chapters spread over 42 states. Disabled Sports USA offers more than 50 sports. Thus, here is a sample of the sports available.

  • Archery
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Power soccer
  • Rock climbing
  • Sailing
  • Scuba
  • Sled hockey
  • Snowboarding
  • Surfing
  • Water skiing
  • Wheelchair basketball

Each year, the organization hosts the Hartford Ski Spectacular, a winter sports festival for people with disabilities. Indeed, the week-long event attracts over 800 participants to Breckenridge, Colorado.

Disabled Sports USA was founded in 1967 to assist veterans wounded in the Vietnam War. Today, the organization’s Warfighter Sports program gives severely wounded warriors opportunities to participate in adaptive sports at no cost to these military veterans.

National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD)

The Colorado-based NSCD was launched nearly 50 years ago to teach skiing to children with amputations. However, in the intervening years, the organization has expanded to serve youth and adults with any disability. Now, NSCD’s programming includes adaptive lessons for airgun training, archery, alpine skiing, snowboarding, ski biking, canoeing, kayaking, cross country skiing, rock climbing, river rafting, snowshoeing, and horseback riding.

In addition, the organization offers a variety of camping experiences. Some camps are designed for a specific population. For example, there’s a weekend camp for women with physical disabilities. Other camps, like the Basketball Clinic, help the participants sharpen a skill.

Although disabled military veterans may participate in any program, NSCD has designed these programs for them.

  • Ski and Snowboard Program for Military Veterans
  • Veterans Camp
  • Family Camp
  • Paralympic Experience
  • Rocky Mountain Adventure

International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS)

The organization bills itself as the “Founder of the Original Paralympic Games”. IWAS provides competitive opportunities for athletes with physical disabilities. Further, this is accomplished through two signature events: IWAS World Games and IWAS Youth World Games.

Both are held every other year. The host country decides which Paralympic sports will be part of the games. Further, host countries may choose from archery, athletics, powerlifting, shooting, swimming, table tennis, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby, table tennis, and volleyball.

IWAS Youth World Games, formerly known as the IWAS World Junior Games, introduce young people to the thrill of international competition. Each competition is divided by age group. The classes are under 23, under 20, and under 17.

IWAS is also the governing body for powerchair hockey and wheelchair fencing.

National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA)

“Roll With Us”. That’s the motto of the NWBA. Further, the invitation is open to anyone with a qualified physical disability. Also, many men, women, and youth have accepted their invitation. The NWBA has a network of over 200 wheelchair basketball teams in 22 conferences.

In the Junior Prep Division, players aged 13 and under can develop their skills by shooting hoops into a basket that 8.5 feet high. However, youth with more advanced skills may play in the Junior 10′ (Varsity) Division. The Adult Divisions are:

  • Division I
  • II
  • III
  • Women’s
  • Intercollegiate Women’s
  • Intercollegiate Men’s

The NWBA hosts an annual national tournament. Indeed, the best teams for each division play for their division’s national title.

American Wheelchair Bowling Association (AWBA)

AWBA hosts 8 to 12 tournaments for wheelchair bowlers each year. In fact, the competitions are held around the country. There’s a national tournament that has a different host city each June. Then, bowlers compete in one of four divisions according to their skill level. Lastly, the divisions range from Novice Division to the elite Scratch Division.