Actors With Disabilities Take Center Stage at the Globe Theatre

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Learning difficulties won’t stop them acting Shakespeare“Unless you’re given a fair chance then they will not know what you, the individual, can do.” Meet the actors with Down’s Syndrome and other learning difficulties challenging expectations by performing Shakespeare.

Posted by Channel 4 News on Tuesday, March 22, 2016

 

The Blue Apple Theatre group is an organization based in Winchester, England that presents high quality theater, dance and film by performers with learning disabilities.

On Monday the group performed a Shakespeare play at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe Theatre in London, and they allowed Channel 4 News cameras to tag along before they took the stage. The actors gave viewers a sneak peak at some of their performances, and they also chatted about how acting has improved their lives.

“I think people out there in the world need to see that people are capable of doing Shakespeare, even with a learning disability like we’ve got,” actor Laurie Morris said in the video.

Fellow actor Tommy Jessop also discussed his take on the disability benefit cuts that have recently made the news in the U.K., noting that it’s not helping people with disabilities find jobs.

“Unless you’re given a fair chance, then they will not know what you, the individual, can do,” actor James Bensfield added.

Watch the video above for behind-the-scenes footage.


Have you seen the first film with a national release to star a person with Down syndrome? Check out the film “Where Hope Grows” today!

Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.

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Animation Offers a Glimpse Into the Life of a Child With Learning Difficulties

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This animated video offers a glimpse into what a day in the life of a child with learning difficulties can be like.

Erik Rosenlund, 40, is an animator and director based in Stockholm. His latest video, called “Bokstavsbarn” in Swedish and “Falling Letters” in English, focuses on a young child who has difficulties paying attention in school and socializing with his peers.

Rosenlund says the film isn’t really about a specific diagnosis but does admit the opening scene is a reference to dyslexia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The tittle, “Bokstavsbarn” is an affectionate Swedish term that means “letter children (or child)” and refers to any kind of diagnosis, according to Rosenlund. His inspiration for the project came from his recently becoming a father, as well as his own experience as a child.

“The little boy drawing in class is pretty close to myself as a child,” Rosenlund told The Mighty via Facebook message. “I always had a very vivid imagination and was never very good at paying attention in class.”

ADHD affects 11 percent of school-age children and symptoms continue into adulthood in more than three-quarters of cases, according to Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), a nonprofit aimed at improving the lives of people affected by ADHD.
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Dear Teachers, Here's What Kids Who Learn Differently Want You to Know

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Kids who learn differently and think differently have something to say to their teachers in a video created by Brain Highways, an educational program based on neuroplasticity — the concept that the brain has the ability to reorganize itself and change.

I know it doesn’t always seem like it,” says a young boy in the video below, “but I really do want to listen and learn.”

A young girl continues, “It’s just my brain is kind of different.”

Brain Highways offers programs for people with a whole range of disabilities and learning differences, including ADHD, autism, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, depression and dyslexia. Programs are for families, teachers and even adults interested in learning how the brain can change.

In this adorable video, Brain Highway kids tell their teachers what they want them to know and how they can use that knowledge to help them learn.

Listen and learn in the video below: 

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These Mentors With Learning Differences Have Messages for Kids Like Them

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If you’ve ever been discouraged because of a learning disability, these counselors have a message for you.

Camp Eye to Eye, run by the national organization Eye to Eye, is a week-long day camp for students with learning disabilities and/or ADHD entering 4th to 8th grade. The counselors are college and high school-aged mentors with similar learning challenges. Activities at the camp include creating motivational art projects, zip-lining, swimming and even creating their own Eye to Eye My Advocacy Plan, a tool they can use in their upcoming IEP or 504 Plan meeting. The program also holds daily hour-long seminars for parents.

We’re creating mentor memories for a lifetime,” Fred Miggins, Eye to Eye’s director of marketing and communications, told The Mighty. “Seeing there are people in your shoes who have gone to college and have accomplished so much is so important.”

According to Miggins, Eye to Eye focuses on the social-emotional piece of living with a learning disability/ADHD — encouraging self-esteem, self-advocacy and hope. Eye to Eye has 50 mentoring chapters in 20 states, as well as diplomats who speak throughout the country.

Because we know having a learning difference/ADHD doesn’t mean you can’t succeed, The Mighty asked Camp Eye to Eye counselors what messages they want to send those with learning disabilities. Here’s what they had to say:

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“You are not alone.”

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“I dream big.”

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“You can excel!”

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“Confidence”

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“You are awesome!”

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“Never give up!”

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“Thinking different rules.”

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“LD/ADHD – proud to be!”

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“Be YOUrself!”

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“Own your label!”

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“You think in amazing ways.”

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“Think outside the box!”

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“Thinking different is cool!”

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“The struggle makes you stronger.”

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“Your L.D. [learning difference] does not define you!”

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Fred Miggins from Eye to Eye

For more information about Eye-to-Eye and their programs, click here or find them on Facebook.

Editor’s note: Fred Miggins’ position was previously stated incorrectly.

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Town Elects the United Kingdom's First Mayor With a Learning Disability

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There’s a new mayor in town, and he’s making history for people with learning disabilities.

Gavin Harding, former deputy mayor, was recently elected to be the mayor of Selby, North Yorkshire, making him the United Kingdom’s first mayor with a learning disability.

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I had to keep pinching myself, saying is this real,” Harding told The Guardian. 

Harding, who has a form of cerebral palsy, has lived in Selby his whole life, where he was only one of six people with disabilities to attend a mainstream school, according to The Guardian. In 2011, he was elected to represent Selby’s North Ward on the Selby Town Council, and two years ago he was chosen to be the Chair of the National Forum for people with learning disabilities.

His advocacy resume goes on. Earlier this year he co-wrote the United Kingdom’s “green paper of proposals,” which gives people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health conditions more rights around the care they receive. He’s one of the founders of Voices for People, a group from Selby that supports adults with learning disabilities and promotes self-advocacy. In 2014, he was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours and awarded his MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his services in the disability community.

According to the Selby’s Town Council website, he will “continue to be the champion for people with disabilities throughout his term.”

There is nothing stopping people with learning disabilities,” Harding told The Guardian. 

We agree.

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The Unforgettable Moment My 3-Year-Old Showed Me What Unconditional Love Looks Like

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My son showed me what unconditional love looks like when he was only 3 years old. He showed me how unfaltering love can be. He did this all through one tender moment that I carry with me every day.

That year, my sister Mary was sick with cancer. She’d just started her second round of chemo, and we were all sort of falling apart inside. This round had been tough on her system and left her skin raw and covered in a rash. I remember feeling so heartbroken to see my beautiful sister so ravaged by this horrible disease and the medicine that was supposed to make her better.

One summer afternoon she was sitting in my sister Annie’s sun-drenched living room beside the giant picture window. We were all lounging around talking and just taking in the lazy summer day. My son, Cosmo, came running in to see Mary, his beautiful blonde curls shining in the sunlight. I remember feeling that pit in my stomach, worried he would see her and be startled or say something that might hurt her feelings. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Cosmo climbed up into Mary’s lap. He cupped her face in his chubby little hands and peered into her eyes, which were the same bright blue as his own. “Boo boos?” he asked her. “Yes, Cosmo, I have boo boos,” she whispered back. He then leaned in, gave her two gentle kisses on each cheek and nestled in her lap. Mary held him close and planted a dozen kisses on his little head. He reached over for a book and asked her to read to him. They could spend hours together lost in storybooks.

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Mary and Cosmo

Tears spilled out from my eyes. I had to leave the room and collect myself. I was so amazed by my spirited, rough-and-tumble little boy, by the love and kindness he displayed with such a little gesture. I could see how much my sister was moved by his little words, his little hands, his sweet little kisses.

A few months later on Christmas Eve, surrounded by her family, my sister passed away. We miss her every moment of every day. We keep her spirit alive, we play her favorite Bruce songs, we read her favorite stories, and we tell our children how much she loved them and how that special love is a gift.

Seven years have passed since that day. Cosmo is 10 years old. He struggles with a learning disability and sensory disorder. Some days are difficult for him and frustrations build… for all of us. But I hold that moment from seven years ago in my heart. I know his capacity for love and kindness. I’ve seen it with my eyes and felt it with my heart. It isn’t something you can learn in school. It’s a gift he was born with… and he will share it with all of us.

For all of December, The Mighty is celebrating the moments we gave or received a gift that touched our lives in a special way. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post describing this moment for you. Include a photo and 1-2 sentence bio to [email protected].
Hint! Some gifts don’t come in packages.

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