Exclusive: Jon Bateman Interview Extras

In early April I interviewed Calgary Sledge Hockey Association (CSHA) President Jon Bateman (@yyc_jon on Twitter) for The Mobility Resource (TMR). Jon and I enjoyed an engaging conversation, so much I couldn’t fit all I wanted into the TMR piece.  That article “An Interview with Calgary Sledge Hockey Association President Jon Bateman” hit the cyberspace waves on my birthday, Monday, April 22nd. Today I will share those extra insights which failed to call The Mobility Resource home.

As discussed within The Mobility Resource article under the sub headline “The Term ‘Adaptive Sports’,” both people with and without disabilities can play adaptive sports. In addition to creating a new appreciation for those living with disabilities, this establishes bonding opportunities. Bateman notes, “One of the things I really love about sledge hockey is if you have a brother or a sibling they can get out and play the game with you. That is a really important thing in families and in relationships between people with disabilities and those close to them.” He explains,

“A lot of how we relate to one another is through shared experience. Sport gives that to siblings of people with disabilities and those without. Friends too.”

I can certainly speak to the aforementioned notion’s credibility. While I personally do not play adaptive sports, I am active with friends. In my third Life of the Differently Abled guest post, “Eliminating Disability Related Social Anxiety,” I share how hiking in North Carolina brought me closer to my friends Sheila, Mike, and Tim.

Anyways back to my Jon Bateman interview. Another topic Jon talks about involved his master’s degree pursuit, specifically his recently completed practicum report. “I put forth the idea if you’re involved in an adaptive sport as a person with a disability, are you then more likely to volunteer in the community? Or, are you more likely to vote? Or, are you more likely to seek paid employment?”

Calgary Scorpions

The Calgary Scorpions, Jon Bateman’s sledge hockey team.

Jon suggests yes, saying “My opinion being President of the association and all the years I’ve been involved (in sledge hockey) I really think if you are involved in adaptive sport, you really are more likely doing things in the community.” Still, he stresses the need for more research into the subject matter.

Yet what remains evident from Jon’s comments and experiences, the ability to build friendships through adaptive sports. “It’s been 16 years since I started and I would say there are at least five to 10 people who have been my teammates during that whole time. We’ve grown quite a bit since then but they really are close friends now.”




Every month the Yahoo! Contributor Network (Y! CN) hands out Spotlight Awards, one to a writer and then five honoring “five exceptional pieces of content.” I’m excited to share my Yahoo! Health piece “Living with It: Student Life with Cerebral Palsy in Mainstream Classrooms” received a Spotlight Award for March 2013. In the monthly Spotlight Award winners blog announcement Y! Jelena writes the following about my chosen article.

“Often, the stories of students with disabilities are told by their parents and teachers. Zachary sheds a first-person light on his experiences in school as a young man with CP, including his fight for an identity beyond his visible disability and his mother’s struggle to keep therapy from interrupting his academic education. This Yahoo! Health piece is a matter of fact, frank look at life as a ‘special education’ student who is integrated with able-bodied students while straddling the line between mainstream classes and an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Parents, teachers, therapists, school administrators, and fellow young people with CP could benefit by reading Zachary’s take.”


Y! CN spotlights five exceptional pieces of content every month. Photo: Andrew Hurley/Wikimedia Commons

Now I feel privileged the Yahoo! Contributor Network spotlighted “Living with It: Student Life with Cerebral Palsy in Mainstream Classrooms.” Y! CN produces much content monthly so to stand out as exceptional proves no easy task. Personally I believe the fact my article accomplished this challenging act emphasizes the importance held by Off Balanced, my blog here, and ultimately firsthand accounts documenting lives with disabilities.

Bottom line people with disabilities possess insights which can help everyone better understand handicaps. Certainly the takes from parents, teachers, therapists, and other appropriate professionals deserve consideration. However a comprehensive dialogue will not emerge until people with disabilities offer their perspectives.

The Power Writing Holds

Recently someone in the LinkedIn group Books and Writers proposed an intriguing question, “What’s important about your book?” The many answers from eagerly responding authors demonstrated the incredible power and value writing possesses. Certainly this proves no big revelation to me however. After all I penned Off Balanced with the goal to positively impact teens with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. Through Off Balanced I aim to put an end to negative self-talk and influence teenagers to embrace their disabilities so they can maximize their adolescent experiences.

Now I’m proud to say I am successfully accomplishing the above objectives. In the past few months the Facebook messages sent to me from readers (NOT biased friends and family) truly warm my heart. A current teenager with cerebral palsy wrote me to share how reading Off Balanced gave him hope. A week and a half ago another reader sent me the following feedback.

Off Balanced Reader Feedback

FYI- To respect the reader’s privacy I blacked out the name and profile picture.

Personally I find the sentence “I could see so much of myself in your writing” the most flattering because the remark speaks to my book’s tone’s effectiveness. Additionally I wish to address the last thoughts, “I’m going to tell all my friends about it. Maybe it can help me explain my disability to them, in ways that I can’t.” These words recognize an element to Off Balanced which emerged while I wrote the book. Off Balanced could assist able-bodied individuals, whether parents, siblings, teachers, therapists, friends, or classmates, to comprehend better life with a disability.

Ultimately writing possesses significant power, power which leaves me honored and amazed as an author. I mean, what other professions allow you to touch complete strangers in such vital ways? Finally seeing how I enjoy helping others, I ask you to leave a comment below identifying the most moving book you read to date. Let the recommendations flow! 😀



Joining the Handicap This Team

Get ready for some exciting news. I’m the newest Handicap This team member. Handicap This centers around the highly touted self-titled stage show starring Chicago natives Tim Wambach and Mike Berkson. However, Handicap This the brand expands beyond Mike and Tim’s stage show and speaking engagements.

At www.handicapthis.com you will find webisodes capturing Mike and Tim’s everyday life as Tim assists Mike through our able-bodied dominant society. Additionally you will find a blog featuring posts from Tim, Mike, and others behind the scenes at Handicap This. Plus the blog offers regular posts from guest bloggers, which I will oversee in my new Guest Blog Coordinator role. This all comes about after writing two guest posts for the blog over the past year and developing a nice friendship with Tim.

Handicap This Guest Blog Coordinator

My bio which appears on the Handicap This team web page.

The position’s responsibilities include recruiting guest bloggers for the site and editing their posts prior to submission to Tim. My focus when recruiting guest posters will revolve around the blog’s theme to educate, empower, and entertain readers. These three Es may reside in or expand beyond the disability community. An inclusive blog, Handicap This stands dedicated to supplying readers from all demographics an uplifting experience.

Now with that said, I want to take the time to address all my past Handicap This mentions. I reviewed Tim’s book How We Roll for Yahoo! Voices. I referenced Handicap This multiple times here and probably within my Youtube videos. Last summer I interviewed, on behalf of The Mobility Resource, Tim and Mike for a piece on them.

I bring these things up because I value integrity in my work and I don’t want anyone thinking I blindly promoted Handicap This. My relationship with Handicap This started innocently enough back in 2011 when I sent Tim an inquiry asking him to read and review Off Balanced before the December 2011 Kindle and Nook releases.  Tim enjoyed Off Balanced, sending me the following promotional blurb.

“Off Balanced is an inside look on someone growing up with cerebral palsy. Zachary writes in such a descriptive way that the reader can’t help but feel like they know him personally. Zach’s never give up attitude is something to envy!”

Anyways, to abbreviate a long story Tim and I developed an acquaintance based off mutual respect for each others’ works and ambitions. That acquaintance led to a friendship, but this all occurred following my aforementioned Handicap This mentions. When you read my How We Roll book review or Handicap This “Personality Profile” blog post, know I completed these objectively refrained from bias.

Finally, let’s come full circle. That respect I discuss my acquaintance with Tim grew from sparks the excitement I feel regarding joining the Handicap This team as their Guest Blog Coordinator. I’m honored Tim offered to add me to the team and I eagerly anticipate helping Handicap This educate, empower, and entertain their website visitors.

If you wish to share a message which educates, empowers, and/or entertains, contact me at zach@handicapthis.com. Also checkout www.zacharyfenell.com to decide if I could prove an asset to your company or organization.       

Tracking New Year Resolutions: March ’13 Recap

With the second quarter now here, those New Year resolutions you set back in January may increasingly seem like distant memories. I will continue to avoid this occurrence personally by keeping to my monthly recaps. Hopefully through my own determination to stay accountable, you become motivated to regularly assess your own New Year resolutions.

Resolution #1- Utilize My Youtube Channel Via Vlogging
Specific Goal- Vlog Twice a Month

So far I’m easily achieving my Youtube resolution. I pretty much adopted an informal structure where I record and post a vlog the second and fourth week in each month. Maintaining such a schedule prevents what happened in January, where I felt rushed to get two posts up in the month’s last five days. My March videos discussed Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month and setting e-book prices.

Resolution #2- Post Here on a Weekly Basis
Specific Goal- Post every Friday
Accomplished? YES

I ended March missing my Friday posting deadline by a little over 24 hours. However the most important fact remains, I successfully posted weekly. Plus once I knock out a “bonus” post for April I’m fully compensated for the two February posts I missed. If the right motivation keeps coming to me every seven days, I feel confident in my ability to precede accomplishing resolution two.

Resolution #3- Keep to Due Dates
Specific Goals- Don’t Receive Any Inquiries About ETAs
Accomplished? NO

Okay, I’m halfway there towards meeting my third 2013 resolution. I nailed all my deadlines for my freelance clients. Unfortunately I faltered with the guest blog posts I arranged. I’m still in the process writing submissions for Rebelle Society and then my second guest blog post for Big Tent Jobs. Meanwhile you can read my first Big Tent Jobs post from last year, “We Hold the Power: A Perspective on Disability Employment.”

Back to the present, I can list multiple reasons explaining why I failed achieving goal three. Yet I’m not interested in dwelling on these. I’m concentrating on submitting my guest posts and moving forward with 2013 and any new guest posts I can secure.