I reflected back on a constant love of mine- travel. I have traveled the world and knew that I could use my first-hand knowledge and love of our world to become a successful travel agent.
Serendipity was at play when a local position was posted in the newspaper; a “full-time travel agent-must be well traveled and a people person’. This fit me like a glove and I began the following week. I learned the travel industry on the job, and it was not until my MS began to create a barrier in my own travel, that I began to take notice of the travel industry’s relationship with the disabled traveler. I recall people left on cruise ships, as there was not a system yet to lower them onto a tender to take them to shore. Ship staff would lift passengers up and place them in the tender. I recall a gentleman who was of larger build proclaim that there was no way that he would have 6 or 7 crew members lift him! This was the first incident in a long line of what I refer to as ‘travel atrocities’… ‘Wheelchair accessible’ room at a resort in Mexico whose door was not wide enough for a wheelchair, showers deemed ‘wheelchair accessible’ with a lip at the entrance, cruise lines who meet ADA requirements on board, however, leave disabled passengers ashore without any accessible shore excursions…
These stories had me do some further snooping which led me to open my own agency four years ago. Inclusion in travel has been my mission and through the channels of social media (and my nosiness) I chimed into conversations on Twitter, and LinkedIn. Here is where I have met amazing people that also want to create a positive change in travel. There is what I refer to as ‘An Access Revolution occurring’; globally more and more travelers are demanding inclusion, and not just those with ‘visible’ barriers, but the ‘invisible’ ones as well i.e. developmental disabilities. It is so wonderful to know that some of my favorite places in the world; which are geographically challenging i.e. Machu Picchu, Ecuador offers some beautiful accessible trips. Inclusion is on the minds of many countries and the travel industry will have to accommodate governed by the sheer numbers of disabled people globally…
The Inclusive Tourism market has been estimated as being worth US$134 billion annually. Already a major tourism sector, it is a market driven by the retirement of the baby boomers, who command almost 60% of net U.S. wealth and 40% of spending. In travel, boomers represent over 50% of consumption. The impact on the Inclusive Tourism sector is significant as over 40% of them will be retiring with some form of disability, raising the total value of this sector to over 25% of the tourism market by 2020. This is not a niche market!
Follow Tarita Karsanji Davenock on Twitter: www.twitter.com/taritatravel
Nike Launches Flyease, Changing The Game For People With Disabilities
The company’s groundbreaking shoe technology is the first of its kind.
For college sophomore Matthew Walzer, simply putting on his shoes was an impossible task. Lacking the dexterity to get his foot in and out of his shoes, the Florida teen, who was born with cerebral palsy, had to enlist the help of his mother and father or others. While he could dress himself, Walzer, 19, told The Huffington Post, “shoes were the one issue” he had learned to deal with and accept.
Until he wanted change.
“By the time you turn 16,” he said, “it gets frustrating or embarrassing if you’re out with your friends and your shoe comes untied and you have to ask your friend, ‘Hey, can you bend down and tie my shoe for me?’”
So he decided to do something about it. Walzer, then in high school, sent a letter to Nike, first reaching out in 2012. He was intimidated, he said, but persistent.
“It took me a couple years to kind of just figure out exactly what I wanted to say in the right way,” he said.how
But luckily for Walzer, his letter ended up in the hands of Nike CEO Mark Parker, who in turn passed it along to Tobie Hatfield, the company’s senior director of athlete innovation. Coincidentally, Hatfield had just embarked on his own journey to explore what Nike could do to help athletes facing physical challenges as well as the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
What resulted in the three years since was a partnership between Walzer and Hatfield’s team at Nike that culminated Monday with the company’s unveiling of the Zoom Soldier 8 Flyease. http://www.broadenedhorizons.com/blog/wp-admin/post.php?post=1919&action=trash&_wpnonce=5cf0f68745The shoe is the first of its kind for the company, and perhaps any athletic brand specifically designed and dedicated to help those with disabilities and difficulties of buying and wearing shoes. It will be available July 16 in limited quantities at Nike.com for North America.
“We used Matthew as a muse, which was awesome because he couldn’t believe that a big company would do something for him,” Hatfield told HuffPost.
Hatfield began his work in developing shoes and technology for athletes with disabilities back in 2006 with Sarah Reinertsen, a professional paratriathlete, whose leg was amputated when she was 7 years old.
“She was mentioning how much of a hassle it is to buy a pair of shoes, cut the shoe … and fit it and glue it on, velcro it on, tape it on, all that kind of stuff,” Hatfield recalled. “She was like, really sheepishly, ‘Do you think, you could maybe help?’ And I looked at it and I said, ‘Damn, Sarah, you have to do all of that?’”
Hatfield said that while Reinertsen struggled, she acknowledged the greater difficulties faced by other amputees she worked with who didn’t have the support system of a professional athlete.
“She said the hassle factor was too high, that they wouldn’t even get out and be active because of it. And I said, ‘That’s just not acceptable. We can do better,’” Hatfield said.
Nike Sole, a foam cover for the carbon fiber prosthetic blade developed in 2012, is now used by amputees like Reinertsen and others while competing or participating in physical activity.
However, the technology that wasn’t the only groundbreaking factor. The company’s distribution of the product proved innovative as well. For the first time in its history, Nike handed over the intellectual property of a design to another organization — Össur, an orthopaedics and prosthetics company.
“They know their consumer base way better than we do,” Hatfield said.
From there, he began to learn about other challenged athletes — “not just amputees, but people with cerebral palsy, people with diabetes” — and to work toward solutions to make their lives easier. It was also an area that hit close to home for the Nike family, after Jeff Johnson, the company’s first employee suffered a stroke in 2004, subsequently losing use of the right side of his body.
“He couldn’t put his shoes on because of that, he couldn’t tie them. So, similar to cerebral palsy where you lose your dexterity, you lose the feeling and you the ability essentially — what we take for advantage, to put shoes on and to tie them — they couldn’t tie them,” Hatfield said.
With Walzer’s letter, success with Reinertsen and the motivation to help Johnson, Hatfield created Flyease technology, which, he says, allows for rear entry and no laces to tie, while still managing to provide support.
“Easy entry, easy access, easy adjustment, easy closure,” he said of the shoe.
Hatfield demonstrates the Flyease easy entry technology. (Credit: Nike)
The first iteration of Flyease appears on the Zoom Soldier 8, a LeBron James Nike series. (The Cleveland Cavalier star also happens to be Walzer’s favorite athlete.) The structure of a basketball hi-top shoe also provides the ankle support needed by people who may have cerebral palsy.
“It just made sense that we connected all of those dots,” Hatfield said.
“There is a real need for a solution like this and it feels good to be a part of something that is going to help so many people,” James said on Nike.com.
As part of the Zoom Soldier series, Flyease technology will stay with Nike and be sold and distributed by the company. For Walzer, the ability to buy a shoe from Nike rather than a specialized company is a transformative experience.
“Up until working with Nike, when I needed a new pair of shoes, we had to go the mall and make a day out of it. We’d go to every store,” Walzer said. “Before even seeing if they were comfortable, it had to be easy for my parents to get my foot into the shoe.”
Hatfield echoed Walzer, saying selling the shoe will give the opportunity for many others “to be able to utilize something that really wasn’t ever designed for them before until now.”
For Nike, it could mean more partnerships, Hatfield said, particularly with the military, which is also at the forefront of progress for injured veterans. Working with Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio, Texas, which helps military amputees and burn victims, Hatfield said Nike helped shoes fit better with medical braces.
Hatfield underscored that while Nike is excited about what it’s been able to accomplish so far for people with disabilities, the company “want[s] to do it right.”
If Walzer can, he’ll be a part of that team. His dream is to be working for Nike in the future in some capacity, he said. For both men, the Zoom Soldier 8 Flyease means, in a way, more than the company has ever achieved before for any major star or athlete.
“It’s so important for quality of life, it’s not always about trying to win a gold medal or achieve a world record,” Hatfield said, before invoking Nike’s mantra: “If you have a body, you’re an athlete”
With the release of the Zoom Soldier 8 Flyease, Hatfield said the company is already working on further developments, including a running shoe that incorporates Flyease technology. The Zoom Soldier 8 Flyease will be sent to the two U.S. basketball teams participating in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles from July 25 through Aug. 2. Hatfield added that Nike has also been working with the U.S. Paralympic Rugby Wheelchair team on technology that makes it easier for athletes to remain in the chair while competing.
“It’s basically kind of kickstarted a lot of work in this area,” Hatfield said of the shoe and the company’s hopes to continue innovating.
“Once you start down this road, I don’t know how you could ever go back,” he said.
Filmmaker Heath Cozens hopes to smash stereotypes about the disabled with his new documentary “Doglegs,” about a handicapped pro-wrestling league in Japan.
TORONTO: Filmmaker Heath Cozens hopes to smash stereotypes about the disabled with his new documentary “Doglegs,” about a handicapped pro-wrestling league in Japan.
The New Zealand-born director discovered the wrestlers, who sometimes fight able-bodied opponents despite their physical and mental disabilities, while living in Japan for 18 years.
The film premiered at the Canadian International Documentary Film Festival in April.
Cozens said he wanted his first feature-length documentary to take the audience on the same emotional rollercoaster he felt when he saw a Doglegs match for the first time.
“I wanted to laugh, then I felt bad about myself wanting to laugh and ashamed,” Cozens explained in an interview. “I just didn’t know how I should feel about it.”
“Doglegs” follows five members of the Tokyo league as they confront their disabilities and demons in the wrestling ring and in their personal lives.
The film shows fans cheering as fighters bash one another mercilessly and a female announcer spices up her commentary with personal details about the combatants.
Cozens said exploitation was a valid concern and initially he thought about doing an expose. But as he watched a match he saw what a positive environment it was and that they were changing peoples’ attitudes about the disabled.
“I realized that what they are doing was performing brain surgery, heart surgery on the audience, changing the audience from inside out,” Cozens said. “I felt the transformation.”
Doglegs started in 1991 as a volunteer group for the disabled and morphed into its present form after two disabled men had a fight over a woman.
The skirmish gave the group’s able-bodied volunteer leader Yukinori Kitajima the idea of forming a wrestling league that would challenge how the disabled are perceived.
“Doglegs” follows “Sambo” Shintaro, a sanitation worker with cerebral palsy and a star fighter for 20 years, as he approaches his retirement match against Kitajima.
Another fighter, Yuki Nakajima, who suffers from depression, seems to feed off the power he gets from climbing into the ring and facing down his demons.
“We have to keep fighting with our own weakness to move forward and get strong, even if we keep losing,” Nakajima explained in an email.
Cozens, who now lives in New York, spent five years making the film that looks at disabilities in a new way.
“Handicap is in the eye of the beholder,” he said.
(Editing by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Christian Plumb)
Father fights for funding to support paralysis research
Published: March 3, 2015
When Indian filmmaker Shonali Bose asked her sister — who was born with acute cerebral palsy — what she wanted to do for her 40th birthday, she was completely “taken aback” by her response.
“She said — loud and clear with rare distinct speech, slamming her fist down on the table — I want to have sex!” Bose wrote in an email to Vancouver Desi.
While Bose admits she gave her sister a “trite” response and said something like “it’s not all it’s made out to be” — the thought stayed with her.
“It was an aspect of disability I hadn’t ever considered,” said Bose. “She was a gifted writer, double MA’s from England, award winner … how the hell did sexuality matter in the face of such achievement?”
It wasn’t until her sister’s defiant 40th birthday wish that Bose realized “this had been a driving need her whole life, which had been suppressed by society and her family.”
With that realization, Bose’s latest film, Margarita, With a Straw — the opening night film at Vancouver’s Women in Film Festival on Wednesday — was born.
The film follows the story of Laila, a young woman in India who’s undeterred by cerebral palsy. After facing rejection from an able-bodied boy at her Indian school, she leaves it all behind and moves to New York City, where she ends up navigating the world of dating — experiencing a lesbian relationship and sexual discovery.
“Sexuality in and of itself is pretty taboo and rarely seen in Indian cinema,” Bose said of the film, which is yet to release in India. “The sexuality of the disabled is taboo the world over and definitely bold.”
So Bose hopes the film “changes the way (the audience) views people who are ‘different’ from them — whether gay or disabled. That they see them as human beings.”
According to Carolyn Combs with Vancouver’s Women in Film Festival, Margarita, With a Straw was chosen as the opening night film because it’s “a look at something that we don’t normally see.”
“It touched upon important issues,” said Combs. “We don’t have a lot of exposure to the life and thinking of people with disabilities.
“So it’s refreshing to see that. And it’s a strong female lead.”
According to Combs, it’s “a rarity” to see such a strong female lead in a film outside of “hero films” (for example, like the female lead in the Hunger Games).
“To see ordinary and strong female leads is rare — and this is really rare to see a woman with cerebral palsy as a lead,” she said. “It’s a feel good film and the main character is so delightful that you just want to watch her.”
Margarita, With a Straw screens Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at VIFF’s Vancity Theatre. The Women in Film Festival runs March 4 to 8. For more information on screenings, scheduling and to purchase tickets visit womeninfilm.ca
Tunç Tonger is one of the most successful businesspeople in Turkey who was paralyzed over twenty years ago. Together with architect Hacı M. Hekim, Tonger has designed a three-story wheelchair accessible yacht to provide the disabled with a comfortable and stylish atmosphere to travel at sea in calledWell-abled. Access to the three stories is accomplished with a hydrophilic elevator which measures 21m can even lower disabled guests into the water if looking to swim. Impressively, the yacht uses renewable solar and wind energy to power all electricity onboard. On board is one captain, seafarer and cook and all have a lot of hospitality experience.
There are three bedrooms (one VIP and two guest rooms) that are suitable for handicapped people and located on the first (ground) floor of the yacht. All three rooms are equipped with touch pad controls for the lights, music, HVAC system and even the doors. Furthermore, all the beds are hospital-style beds with controls for the feet and head and are at a height is 50cm from the floor to the top of the mattress. No matter what room you are staying in, disabled guests will find the comfort of grab-bars, a roll-up sink and roll-in shower in the bathroom. One can sit on the toilet or a portable padded stool to shower. The height of the mirror can be adjusted according to guest. In the VIP room there is one king-size bed (2m in length) and is composed of two independent bases to provide a comfortable arrangement for both our handicapped guest and his/her companion who may or may not be handicapped. In both guest rooms, there is only one twin bed but an air-bed can be provided for non-handicapped guests. One Roho airbed can also be provided (90cm X 200cm).
To ensure safety and peace of mind, panic buttons have been installed in every room on the yacht in case guests need assistance of any kind. In the main room, there is a sitting area for six people and the table’s height can be electronically adjusted; all other tables can be manually adjusted. There are even two cockpits (main and top floor) designed for handicapped guests to be able to drive as it is equipped with an electronic rudder and gas control lever. Although the kitchen (main floor) is not specially designed to be wheelchair accessible, some may still find it manageable. Plus, there will not be much need to prepare meals yourself because a professional cook accompanies the yacht. Guests are welcome to shop for their own food for the duration of the voyage or the staff can assist or do it completely. The kitchen also includes a ground level dish and clothing washer. A deck is also found on the main level with reclining lounge chairs for tanning and a misting system to help regulate body temperature.
The yacht’s main level (third floor) has even more reclining chairs for tanning as well as a misting system. On this floor is also a Jacuzzi (2m round) which can be filled with either fresh or sea water. If needed, the staff can assist in transferring handicapped guests into the Jacuzzi; simply use the panic button for help. From the Jacuzzi, guests can watch entertainment on the 180cm by 180cm HD screen. A portable Karaoke machine can be enjoyed on every floor; each floor has its own sound system so if a guest does not want to hear then he or she can move to another floor. Scuba diving can also happen right off the yacht but guests need to inform the crew well ahead of time so that a professional instructor can be on board. Scuba diving is only available for a minimum 3-night cruise.
Well-abled has an accessible vehicle with a lift and the ability to transport three disabled people along with some abled body people. Airport pick-up and drop-off is included in the price of renting the yacht. This vehicle also follows the yacht’s route, connecting at every port the yacht does. This allows Well-abled to take guests to attractions and other places of interest. For such day tour the cost is 400,00€, including fuel costs.
Currently, the yacht is in Istanbul but after May 2013 it will be available to handicapped guests on the coasts of the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. All tours start at 10am but can be adjusted if needed. Guests can rent the yacht for a maximum of one month or as little as one night. Renting the yacht for just a day cruise (10am-10pm) is also an option and costs 1.000,00€. One overnight trip costs 2.000,00€. Guests need to inform Well-abled how many days and nights they wish to use to yacht and figure out food menu details. Food, beverage, fuel expenses are not included. One hour of cruising on the boat consumes an average of 70 liters of fuel which costs approximately 70€ per hour. Reservations must be made two months in advance and require a 20% deposit.
Please email wheelchairtraveling.com to receive 15% off the total price.
EMPOWERMENT IN ACTION 2014 – A LOOK BACK AND AHEAD…
From August 22nd to 24th, 2014, we brought together a group of amazing people for a weekend of fun, inspiration and empowerment to move forward in one of life’s many possible directions, thanks to the generous support of Canada Safeway and many other donors. Original Post
“What is empowerment? It’s not something bestowed on you. Empowerment comes from within.” – Mark Felling, keynote speaker
50 youth and 16 adults affected by neuromuscular disorders, along with 81 caregivers, came together with Muscular Dystrophy Canada Board Members, staff and volunteers, along with a powerful group of speakers in Richmond BC for this motivational and engaging summit on life transitions, personal leadership and neuromuscular disorder management.
Words cannot explain the outcomes of this great event. See some of the smiling faces that made EIA 2014 such a success.
Check out the accessible arcade, and #EIAyouth hashtags to see the updates and photos others have been posting about the event.
Empowerment in Action 2014 Keynote by Mark Felling for Canadian National Muscular Dystrophy Association Biannual Conference
Even though there are way too many to mention, here are just a few of the impacts that came as a result of this unforgettable weekend:
- Delegates became empowered through listening to experts and there pears during interactive workshops, educational sessions and panel discussions on such topics as independent living, financial planning, respiratory health, sexuality, maintaining a positive state of mental heath, manage your neuromuscular disorder as you transition through life, travelling with a disability and building partnerships in the community, all while learning about Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s programs and services and how each and everyone of us can have an impact
- We experienced our ability to participate in active living and recreational activities through integrated dance and power soccer at the beautiful Richmond Olympic Oval
- The group connected with really cool people from all over Canada, hung out in the youth and adult lounges and participated in fun, adapted recreation activities. Experiences were shared and networks and relationships were built that will last a lifetime!
- Individuals impacted by neuromuscular disorders embraced their independence by seeing the Richmond Area through a community walk about including a number of accessibility challenges.
- Vendors helped us to discover community resources, supports, programs and technologies that can enhance our quality of life.
- We raised awareness of neuromuscular disorders and the Muscular Dystrophy Canada brand through our presence in the community and the use of social media. Through the use of Twitter we reached over 10,000 accounts and had exposure of over 60,000.
“It’s easy to get caught up in labels & stigmas of what others think. Don’t do that.” – Maayan Ziv, speaker
Thank you to everyone who helped to fund and organize or participated in EIA2014. Without you, it wouldn’t have been the same. We look forward to continued educational and empowering events to enhance the lives of people affected by neuromuscular disorders.
– See more at: http://www.muscle.ca/we-can-help/educational-events/empowerment-in-action/#sthash.tVCaJ62F.dpuf
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