Link:Art Program Parents of special-education students rarely get to have those precious, scholastic coming-of-age moments, such as watching their children star in school recitals or pitch shutouts for their baseball teams. If there's a meeting at school, it's often to focus on what their children can't do and how to make the best accommodations. So there's something powerful about the annual Pastime Players performance, when parents get to see their children take the stage, regardless of mental or physical challenges, and showcase their ability to recite poetry or Shakespearean lines or to dance hip-hop or to sing "What a Wonderful World."
A nonprofit called Shane's Inspiration has built 16 playgrounds for Southern California children with disabilities and now plans to expand internationally with 80 new playgrounds. "I think you're seeing a spark from Los Angeles that's going to ignite the nation and the world," said Jon Kirk Mukri, general manager of Los Angeles' parks department. "It's a lab, a learning lab -- a real learning lab where kids can get together and see, except for wheelchairs and leg braces, there's not much difference between kids' laughter."
Robin Donnelly, whose spina bifida keeps her from walking, loves the freedom her adapted motorcycle gives her, so in 2004 she launched the Disabled Riders of America. The organization networked many bikers who once thought they were alone in retrofitting their motorcycles to meet their needs.
In 1992, two teachers at Massachusetts' Carroll School, a private school for children with language-based learning disabilities such as dyslexia, began creating a musical based on their students' experiences with learning disabilities. Sixteen years later, they have polished the show, "Breaking Through," and their students are performing it at schools throughout the state and are preparing to produce a DVD for national distribution due to its success. Response to the musical has been overwhelmingly positive from other students at the school, and from many family members and friends who say they finally understand what it would feel like to have a learning disability after watching the show.
To draw attention to the challenges of dyslexia and other language-based learning problems, students from the Carroll School are visiting other Massachusetts schools to perform "Breaking Through," a musical about a young girl who realizes she has a learning disability. For the cast, the musical is more than just a performance; it's a reflection of their own lives.
RJ Mitte provides a unique authenticity to the disabled character he plays on AMC's edgy new series Breaking Bad. (Sunday, 10 ET/PT).
Bad's Walter White Jr. has cerebral palsy. So does Mitte, 16.
But the lanky, dark-haired teen had to adjust to the role. He has a mild case of the neurologic disorder, and extensive therapy helped overcome some of its more pronounced symptoms. His character uses crutches and has a different speech pattern.
CHICAGO -- When a 26-year-old Chicagoan recently moved to the next round of "American Idol," she was furthering more than her musical ambitions.
The popular show recently opened its seventh season featuring a video clip of Angela Martin and her 8-year-old daughter, who has Rett syndrome, raising awareness about a little-known genetic disorder.
"The e-mail started flying in as soon as the show was over," said Chuck Curley, director of the International Rett Syndrome Research Foundation and father of a 12-year-old with the condition. "This is a huge moment for us."