With Halloween fast approaching now seems an ideal time to discuss trick-or-treating with cerebral palsy, and disabilities in general. The topic came to my mind’s forefront after seeing Cerebral Palsy Family Network post some really cool Halloween Facebook pictures featuring handicap friendly costumes. For example, the Darth Vader below.
I’m not big on Star Wars but what an awesome costume! Photo: Originally posted by Kevin Tostado to Flickr
Following the initial “Wow! How cool is this?” reaction, what comes to your mind next? I start to wonder about trick-or-treating accessibility. If this kid went trick-or-treating around his neighborhood, how many houses can he actually go up to? I remember encountering some hassles when I went trick-or-treating as a child, mostly ascending and descending front stairs without a banister. Steep steps also caused me to take my time. Overall though the small setbacks never ruined my fun.
Then again I did stop trick-or-treating probably before most children. I don’t believe I did any door-to-door candy shopping as a teenager. Yet I’m sure several 13 and 14-year olds get dressed up, gather together, and go free sweet hunting. If I did so, I speculate a similar situation to the 2003 Auto Show, which I recall in my book Off Balanced, might’ve occurred. Fearing falling behind, I would rush and consequently not enjoy myself so much.
Anyways, enough about what never happened. 🙂 Ultimately, my CP didn’t stop me from enjoying trick-or-treating. I am however rather intrigued to learn how disabilities affected others’ Halloween night experiences, especially those who use wheelchairs. Please captivate me by sharing your insights via a comment below.
Heartwarming to deplorable accurately describes the emotional range created by news articles about teens with disabilities. Take yesterday for example. Going through the daily Google Alert emails for “cerebral palsy” still in my inbox, I came across a NBC Local 15 (AL/FL news station) report which appalled me. 14-year-old Austin Stokes ended up going to the hospital after getting seriously assaulted on school grounds. He explains the incident.
“I was walking out in the breezeway and I threw the coke can at the boy because he called me a retard. Then, the next thing out of the blue he punched me and lift me off the ground and I became airborne.”
While possessing the ability to throw a soda can, Stokes doesn’t maintain a good chance at victory in a fight. According to the news report, his cerebral palsy leaves him partially blind and paralyzed. Also note Stokes’ assailant, a high school senior, holds a size and age advantage. A 17-year-old should display the maturity to walk away after a can gets hurled his way. I assume the student to be 17 or 18 years old given his class rank.
Yet again I want to think a 17-year-old knows better than to call somebody with a physical disability “retarded.” Such behavior stems from ignorance. Overall the news story further motivates me to engage able-bodied individuals and get them to read my book Off Balanced. I believe Off Balanced can open eyes, getting ordinary students to see their peers with disabilities as kids sharing similar wants and needs.
Thankfully some individuals out there already own this perspective. Let me demonstrate by returning to the emotional range I previously mentioned. I went from disgust reading the Austin Stokes story to delight when I checked out a Fox 8 (N.C.) report about high school freshman Brionna Miller. Impressed by her positive attitude Miller’s peers voted her onto the Homecoming Court. Her classmates allowed themselves to see Miller’s personality first rather than her wheelchair. Ultimately this stands as any disability advocate’s goal.
*Author’s Note: I know personally my goal writing and publishing Off Balanced involves helping to cultivate more stories where teenagers celebrate their peers with disabilities as people first.Currently I’m seeking advice on how to reach more able-bodied teenagers. Please leave any suggestions via commenting below or through emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Excitement stirs in the air around me. After eight months on my to-do list I can check off “Update Website.” A combination between never ending short-term activities and simply poor time management caused the task to linger undone for so long. The updated zacharyfenell.com features a few new webpages, including one dedicated to Off Balanced. You’ll find the book’s synopsis, excerpts from book reviews, and various Off Balanced links on the page.
Moving on, I wanted to take this time and share the spotlight by giving a specific Off Balanced reader a shout out. Mariah Kilbourne, I’m talking about you! Mariah reached out to me on Facebook back in January to tell me she bought my book thanks to John W. Quinn’s ringing endorsement (which you can find on the Amazon sales page under editorial reviews). Anyways, since January I’ve enjoyed the pleasure via Facebook to see Mariah accomplish great feats.
In March Mariah won the Ms. Texas Wheelchair pageant and eventually proceeded to become Ms. Wheelchair America, winning the national pageant held in Rhode Island. My fellow The Mobility Resource writer Jeff D. Gorman recently conducted an insightful interview with Mariah, examining her journey to becoming the current reigning Ms. Wheelchair America. Make sure you show Mariah your support and read the piece, “Mariah Kilbourne Seeks Historic-Site Access as Ms. Wheelchair America 2013.”
Finally, to end today’s post I wish to plug my Indies in Motion interview. Host Rick Mizuno flattered me very much, sharing his praise for Off Balanced and my other writing endeavors. A huge thanks goes out to Rick for having me on Indies in Motion as a guest. You can take a listen by clicking the link in this paragraph’s opening sentence.
If you enjoy reading my various guest blog posts across the web, make sure to visit disABLEd Guy and view my latest “The Disability-Inspiration Correlation.” The post went live yesterday Wednesday, October 3rd and further explores a topic I discussed here in my post “Analyzing Pop Culture: Disabilities as Inspirations.” While at disABLEd Guy, also take the time to checkout blogger Mason’s several posts about disabilities and the blog’s previous guest posts.
Moving on I’m excited to announce this upcoming Monday (October 8th) I will appear on Rick Mizuno’s Indies in Motion talk radio show. The Indies in Motion website describes the show as,
“A one-of-a-kind variety show which features some of the best Independent Artists in: Art, Film, Dance, Theater, Literature, Music and more.”
I highly recommend listening to Mizuno’s past shows. His incredible enthusiasm provides a catalyst for great radio. You can hear my interview live Monday, October 8th at 4:00pm EST/1:00pm PST on Global Voice Broadcasting radio.
Finally, look forward to a future guest blog post from me on Katy Fetters’ Teen Cerebral Palsy blog. Teen Cerebral Palsy maintains similar goals as Off Balanced so I’m eager about getting to reach out to Fetters’ readers. Expect the guest blog post in the near future, once I start catching up on my freelance work for The Mobility Resource. In the meantime take a closer look at the wonderfully insightful blog.