New Film Features Comedian with Cerebral Palsy

A new film released on Friday features Josh Blue, a stand up comedian with cerebral palsy known for winning NBC’s Last Comic Standing competition in 2006 and subsequent comedy specials on Comedy Central and Ron White’s Salute to the Troops on CMT. Dat Phan, who also competed to be a Last Comic Standing also stars.Josh Blue

“108 Stitches” follows a baseball team with one of the longest losing streaks in college history as they come to the realization that the school, led by the corrupt and unethical President of the University, has plans to disband the entire program.  Hilarity ensues as the misfits have just one afternoon to execute a plan to fill the stadium, sign the top recruit on the planet, and help send their coach out with a bang. Josh Blue stars as an unlikely pitcher who spins wild throws in just about every direction but the batter’s.

Affiliate UCP of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties was invited to the exclusive Hollywood premiere of the film this week and got a chance to speak with Josh Blue and the producers of the film about the character.

“Josh Blue said what he most liked about the character is that he is treated equally.” said Amy Simons, Chief Development Officer of UCP of LA. “Pretty much every one in the film is made fun of and Josh’s character is no exception. He’s not singled out because of his disability.

Order your copy now through this link and the producers of “108 Stitches” will donate a portion of the proceeds to UCP to help provide services support for people with disabilities.

Enabled by Design-athon Happening This Fall

Design-athonUnited Cerebral Palsy is bringing you another great event this fall! Sign up now to attend Enabled by Design-athon: D.C. Edition November 5-7. UCP’s Life Labs initiative is hosting this dynamic event to encourage innovation by designers, inventors, hackers and makers for the benefit of people with disabilities.

Spread the word to those you know who have the big ideas and perspective that have made three previous events in London, D.C. and, recently, Sydney, Australia, such a success. We’re looking to bring together teams of dreamers, including people with disabilities, to design and prototype accessible products which provide innovative solutions for the everyday challenges faced by people with various disabilities.

We’ll kick things off Wednesday evening, November 5 at the Great Hall at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library, where the public is invited to network and hear from keynote speaker Adrienne Biddings, Policy Counsel for Google. Adrienne will bring her expertise in making communications media accessible, diverse and responsive to the needs of all segments of the community. Other speakers include Brett Heising of www.brettapproved.com and Maria Town, the influential blogger who created http://cpshoes.tumblr.com/ and representatives from iStrategy Labs. Also participating is the Corcoran/GWU School of Arts + Design.

Thursday, November 7, begins the two-day design workshop at Google’s D.C. offices where team will compete to come up with the best design. A $25 registration fee is required for the workshop, however, the Wednesday evening event is free and you do not have to participate in the full workshop to attend (registration is required and space is limited)

“This is an opportunity for designers, technologists, engineers, students, caregivers and people with disabilities to collaborate and learn from each other how to use human-centered universal design concepts to solve every day challenges,” said Marc Irlandez, Director of Information, Technology and Life Labs at UCP. “We believe good design goes a long way towards helping people live as independently as possible by making day-to-day tasks just a little easier.”

The event is sponsored by Google, Sprint Relay, PCS Engineering, Sugru and the CEA Foundation.

Registration opens today! Get more information at http://ucpdesignathon.org/.

Google LogoSprint RelayCEA-Foundation-Logosugru-a496657ae9f8fc8b31a1207b5202ff56pic0_44331

New Event Series for Young People with Disabilities and Young Veterans

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) and Student Veterans of America (SVA) announce a unique partnership that will allow both young adults with disabilities and young veterans to network and increase engagement and collaboration. The project was developed with the support of the National Youth Transitions Center and the Youth Transitions Collaborative (www.thenytc.org).SVA Circle JPEG

An educational series of events called “Engage: A Diverse Event Series” will take place between September and December 2014, covering finance, adaptive sports, disability and military history and wrapping up with a social evening of networking. The events will be open to youth and young adults with disabilities from ages 14-26 and veterans under the age of 35 in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Each event will have a specific subject of focus, addressing key social and educational components and offer a welcoming atmosphere.

The events are free but space is limited for each event, so registration is required. The hope is that by bringing together people from different backgrounds, they will be able to better learn from one another about their individual and shared experiences. Overall, the event series is designed to be a basis for further collaboration within the D.C. area, and serve as venue to further spread best practices.

EVENT DETAILSAdaptive Sports

Wednesday, September 24 from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

National Youth Transition Center at 2013 H Street NW in Washington, D.C.

Financial Education
Network and share your challenges with optimizing financial resources with financial planning experts including representatives from TD Bank, who will offer advice and guidance through interactive budgeting activities. Food and drinks will be provided!


Tuesday, October 21 from 6:00-8:00 p.m.

National Youth Transition Center at 2013 H Street NW in Washington, D.C.

Adaptive Sports
Continue to network while learning about adaptive sports with representatives from Disabled Sports USA who will share their stories, answer questions and demonstrate equipment. Food and drinks are provided!


Wednesday, November 19 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. (Date subject to change)

American History Museum at 14th & Constitution Avenue, NW.

Disability and Military History
Hear from the curatorial staff of the Division of Armed Forces History and the Division of Science and medicine at the Smithsonian Institution Accessibility Program followed by behind-the-scenes tours of collections of armed forces and disability history. Snacks and drinks will be provided. And, of course, enjoy networking!


Wednesday, December 10 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

National Youth Transition Center at 2013 H Street NW in Washington, D.C.

Networking Reception
Enjoy an evening filled with networking, food, beverages and music, as we wrap up our event series.

 

REGISTER BY CLICKING HERE!

 

Please contact O’Ryan Case, UCP’s Director of Membership and Public Education at (202) 973-7125 or ocase@ucp.org if you have any questions.

UCP’s STEPtember Challenge Begins Today!

10,000 Steps Daily Minimum

 

2,000 participants across the U.S.       are taking 10,000 steps a day from September 3-30                 in support of UCP.

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) is pleased to announce the launch of the third annual STEPtember fundraising event today, formerly known as the World CP Challenge. STEPtember is an international health and fitness event that aims to raise awareness and support for individuals with disabilities and their families.

From September 3-30, STEPtember participants will get active while supporting a great cause. Throughout the event, more than 5,000 teams worldwide will challenge themselves to take 10,000 steps a day. Each of the steps—or bike rides, yoga classes, or physical therapy sessions, as nearly any activity can be counted—will propel the teams up virtual mountains and track their progress. Teams can compare their fundraising and step activity against others from around the world, racing each other up the seven tallest mountains and spurring their efforts to new heights. Together, the teams will help to raise critical support for the nearly 180,000 individuals with disabilities that UCP serves each and every day.

Already, more than $115,000 has been raised in the U.S., and well over $1 million internationally through thousands of participants. 

“UCP is very excited to kick off this year’s STEPtember event! This month promises to be an incredible, worldwide effort to raise awareness and support for people with disabilities. Steptember is such a great way for anyone, regardless of ability, to get active and truly impact our organization in the process,” said Stephen Bennett, President and CEO of UCP.

“Our family is personally affected by disability and we know first-hand what perseverance can accomplish. Joining in the STEPtember campaign, like a of Team Hoyt, a father-son racing duo who have volunteered to be UCP’s STEPtember ambassadors this year. Team Hoyt

Here’s how to get involved in the STEPtember Challenge: 

1) Learn More –  Check out the FAQ section on the STEPtember website, learn more about the communities that UCP serves, and understand how to get started!

2) Register Today – It’s not too late to get involved! Register today at www.steptember.us and we’ll connect you with a local affiliate that can provide an event packet and information to jumpstart your involvement.

 

3) Donate Now – Even if you don’t want to take the challenge and register, support the cause by donating to the UCP National team. We’re aiming to raise $10,000. Every dollar donated will provide critical funds to sustain community programming, and purchase much needed equipment for individuals with disabilities and their families.

Steptember will culminate on October 1st with World Cerebral Palsy Day, a global innovation project to change the world for people with cerebral palsy. 

Change the World, Win Prizes

WCPD14_Logo_USA_HRThe World Cerebral Palsy Day “Invent It” contest is heating up and there are big prizes out there for the best idea. Do you have an idea that could “Change the World in One Minute” for someone with a disability?

World Cerebral Palsy Day is a global awareness and innovation project designed to gather ideas from people living with CP and their supporters and to make the best of those ideas a reality. The first World CP Day in 2012 generated more than 470 ideas for a global competition to prototype them. The winning idea was a solar powered wheelchair inspired by a submission from a man in Turkey and turned into reality by a team at the University of Virginia. World CP Day represents people-power at its best. Who knows, your idea could the one that changes the world for a person with a disability and earn you up to $30,000 in prize money!

All you have to do it submit your idea via text or a short video that can be read or viewed in one minute by October 31. Just visit www.worldcpday.org to submit your idea for what might change the world for a person living with CP or another disability. Ideas will be judged this fall and a call will go out for inventors, innovators and engineers to create designs or prototypes for the winning ideas in January. Winners will be announced in June and awarded their prize.

However, winning it all is not the only way to win. Spot prizes of Apple iPads will be given away during September and October to the most creative and innovative ideas to date and a popular vote contest will be held via social media in October will receive a $500 People’s Choice Award. So, don’t dealy – get your ideas in to www.worldcpday.org today.

Family Ties Ensure a Life Without Limits

The following is a guest post by Betsy Mays, 24 who has three older siblings including Blake (31), Lauren (30), and Jamie (26). Lauren has Cerebral Palsy. 

Mays Family at the Beach

Mays Family at the Beach

“My sister Lauren is one of my best friends and she has Cerebral Palsy. Growing up I don’t think I realized that there was anything too different about my sister. I knew that she couldn’t walk, but that didn’t stop my brothers and I from wheeling (or dragging) her around. I knew she couldn’t talk, but my family created a type of communication that worked for us; we are all REALLY good at 20 questions. I knew she couldn’t care for herself, but that’s what we were all there for!

I loved and still love being around my big sister at every waking moment. She is my audience when my parents or brothers couldn’t stand to watch one more of my performances. She is my go to person when I want to go swimming, and she is the one person in my family that knows all my secrets!

Mays Family PortraitGrowing up my mom always told my brothers and I that not everyone would always be as kind to my sister as we would hope or that people may stare at her because they simply didn’t understand what Cerebral Palsy is. So, being the outspoken little ball of joy that I was, I loved to educate my friends (and strangers who loved to stare) about my sisters condition! I would let everyone know that my sister wasn’t “crippled” but that she was just like everyone else, and she just so happened to have Cerebral Palsy.  My sister has always, and continues to, live a life without limits.

I remember when my siblings and I were little we would put her on a sleeping bag or a bean bag and pull her around the house so she could play with us. My brothers and I made sure to always include her, and my parents made sure that Lauren was involved in anything she wanted to! She was an excellent student, participated in school plays, Special Olympics, and and graduated with a regular high school diploma!

She loves to go to the beach, swim, and loves to be around the whole family. My nephews and niece are growing up around my sister and they love their Aunt LaLa. At such a young age they have learned that a person is not defined by a disability!

Now that we are all older, my sister has developed health problems that my family was not quite prepared for. We have never really needed any extra assistance because my sister’s health has never been an issue that we couldn’t handle on our own. Lauren was the person in our family that was virtually never sick! Thankfully my family is really close and we have great friends who continue to show us love and support, and my sister is tough as nails!

Mays Halloween

Halloween

I am thankful that my sister has always been treated with respect and compassion by everyone she encounters. All of my siblings have grown up to be in helping professions- go figure! Blake is a police officer, Jamie is currently in school for health promotion, and I am a social worker. We all try to be advocates for people living with disabilities and I hope that other families out there are doing their best to educate family, friends, and strangers about what it means to live with a disability. I cannot speak for everyone, but my family lives to ensure that Lauren can live a life without limits!”

An Open Letter to Weird Al Yankovic

Dear Mr. Yankovic (may we call you Weird Al?),

Thanks for your catchy summer hit “Word Crimes.” We were having a lot of fun bopping to the beat of this parody of “Blurred Lines” and laughing along with your clever lyrics. That is until we reached the final chorus, where you sang “cause you write like a spastic.”

You may not be aware, but “spastic” can carry a very un-funny meaning for people born with cerebral palsy (CP) and other disabilities and their families. We understand you were poking fun at people who don’t use proper grammar by implying that they lack intelligence. There are only so many ways you can say that – “moron,” “clown,” “stupid” – so we understand you have to reach a little for more examples.

But, you should know that “spastic” is a term that describes certain aspects of CP and it has no bearing at all on a person’s intelligence. The term is far too often used to insult people with disabilities, instead of simply describing a condition. Similarly, the word “retarded” long ago moved from the realm of clinical jargon to disrespectful slang for someone with an intellectual disability. It is now rejected as being not only outdated, but also incredibly offensive. When you go on to say “get out of the gene pool, try not to drool” in your song, you are portraying people with disabilities (inaccurately) as somehow less intelligent and less valuable than other human beings.

Here are some facts about CP that you might want to know: there are 17 million people in the world who have CP; it is estimated that 1 in 323 children is born with CP (that’s a pretty big fan base); CP results when an injury to the brain occurs before, during or after birth; and CP can affect mobility, speech and other functions specific to which part of the brain was injured. While people with CP sometimes have other co-occurring disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, it doesn’t automatically mean that they lack intelligence (or a good grasp of the English language). And, it certainly doesn’t mean that they are not deserving of your respect.

Weird Al, we hope you will take this into consideration when you’re writing. We all love a  good laugh,but not at the expense of people with disabilities and their families and friends.

Thank you,

United Cerebral Palsy 

Albert Pujols “Pinch Hits” to Support 20th Anniversary of the Toys“R”Us Toy Guide For Differently-Abled Kids®

 

Toys“R”Us® announced the release of its 20th Anniversary edition of the Toys“R”Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids®, an easy-to-use toy selection resource for those who know, love and shop for children with disabilities. Now in its second decade of annual publication, the complimentary shopping guide is a go-to for families, friends and caregivers involved in the special needs community, and is available in Toys“R”Us® and Babies“R”Us® stores nationwide, as well as online at Toysrus.com/DifferentlyAbledin both English and Spanish. This year, Toys“R”Us is teaming up with baseball World Champion, proud father and special needs advocate, Albert Pujols, who appears on the cover alongside Cameron Withers, a 5-year-old boy from Los Angeles.

While Pujols is known for his passion on the diamond, his dedication to the special needs community is even greater. As a parent to a daughter with Down syndrome, Pujols serves as a vocal advocate for children with special needs through the Pujols Family Foundation. Since 2005, the Pujols Family Foundation has worked diligently to provide children and families living with Down syndrome with the tools they need to thrive. As part of the launch of this year’s Guide, Pujols will bring that same devotion to his partnership with Toys“R”Us in helping to reach its customers nationwide and raise awareness of this one-of-a-kind resource.

“As a proud dad to my beautiful daughter, Bella, who lives with Down syndrome, I understand how important it is to have resources like the Toys“R”Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids to help in making informed choices to support a child’s development. And, as a professional athlete, I truly value the importance of play and recognize the impact it has in the lives of children who face everyday challenges – for these kids, playtime is not just about fun, it’s an opportunity to explore their strengths and experience success in reaching each new milestone,” said nine-time All-Star baseball player, Albert Pujols. “I have a tremendous amount of passion for this cause, and I’m excited to partner with Toys“R”Us to make it easier for gift-givers to find toys for the special needs children in their lives that will inspire their imagination, encourage inclusive play and help them develop new skills.”

Trusted Toy Recommendations Tailored to Children’s Individual Abilities

Serving as a trusted resource for family, friends and caregivers of children with special needs, the Guide is packed with everyday playthings selected for their unique ability to help kids build critical skills, such as creativity, fine and gross motor and self-esteem, during playtime. Each of the toys featured in the 63-page buying guide has been vetted in partnership with the National Lekotek Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making play accessible for children of all abilities. 

To equip parents with targeted recommendations as they set out in selecting a toy for their child’s specific set of abilities, each toy in the Guide is paired with skill-building icons, which help users easily identify the playthings that are most suitable for the child they’re shopping for. The following are examples of toys featured in the 2014 Guide, highlighted by the skill they promote:

  • AuditoryBaby Einstein Octoplush from Kids II®
  • CreativityMega Bloks Build ‘n Learn Table from MEGA® Brands
  • Fine MotorHot Wheels KidPicks Super 6-in-1 Track Set from Mattel®
  • Gross MotorMonster Dirt Diggers from Little Tikes®
  • LanguageDoctor Role Play Set from Melissa & Doug®
  • Self EsteemClassic Doodler with 2 Stampers from Fisher-Price®
  • Social SkillsElefun & Friends Chasin’ Cheeky from Hasbro®
  • TactileCyclone from Radio Flyer®
  • ThinkingConnect & Create Geometric Set from Imaginarium
  • VisualMarker Maker from Crayola®

Through the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund, Toys“R”Us, Inc. has long supported the special needs community through organizations such as: American Society for Deaf Children, Autism Speaks, the Pujols Family Foundation, HollyRod Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Down Syndrome Society, National Lekotek Center, National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, National Center for Learning Disabilities, Special Olympics, Spina Bifida Association and United Cerebral Palsy. For more information, please visit www.toysrusinc.com/charitable-giving/

Shopping the Guide, In-Store, Online and On-the-Go

Those who prefer to browse online can take advantage of the shop-by-skill option at Toysrus.com/DifferentlyAbled. Customers can narrow their toy selection by focusing on a specific skill to refine their search. Shoppers can also view the Guide via their smartphone by scanning the QR code featured on dedicated signage located at their Toys“R”Us store’s Customer Service Desk. Those searching for mobile apps can also download the official Toys“R”Us App Guide for Differently-Abled Kids. Using the same skills criteria featured within the traditional Guide, the App Guide provides a convenient, on-the-go resource for viewing, researching and comparing mobile apps designed to build individual development skills for children of all ages. All apps featured within this helpful resource can be found in the App Store for iOS or the Google Play Store for Android.

In addition to finding toy recommendations, parents can peruse the Guide’s “Top Ten Tips for Buying Toys,” prepared by the National Lekotek Center, as well as “Safe Play Tips for Children with Special Needs,” which were created based on research collected from leading safety and special needs organizations, to help avoid playtime injuries.

Join the Conversation Using #ToysforAll

Throughout the year, Toys“R”Us will continue to leverage its social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, to share toy-buying tips and recommendations found in the Guide, as well as exclusive behind-the-scenes content from the cover shoot with Albert Pujols. The company is encouraging fans and followers to join the conversation and support the power of play in the lives of all children by using hashtag #ToysForAll. For more information about the Toys“R”Us Toy Guide For Differently-Abled Kids, visit Toysrus.com/DifferentlyAbled.

UCP Seguin Volunteers Show Support for Vets at The Moving Wall

UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago paid a visit to The Moving Wall as it passed through Berwyn, Illinois August 7 through 11. The Wall, a smaller replica of the Vietnam Veteran Memorial in Washington D.C., has been touring the United States for 30 years. Berwyn Mayor Robert J. Lovero and the Berwyn Development Corporation sponsored the wall’s visit to the Chicago areas and and UCP Seguin’s “Community Connections” program jumped in to provide some of the many volunteers needed to ensure a meaningful experience for local veterans and others. 

A group of people, some older, some younger, posing for a picture in the middle of a field.

Seguin volunteers, including people with disabilities and staff members, helped loved ones locate the names of their friends and family members on the exhibit. Afterwards they assisted with routine maintenance of the exhibit.

“We are especially proud of the way people with disabilities and staff generously contributed to this poignant memorial,” stated John Voit, UCP Seguin President and CEO. “The Moving Wall brought together, side by side, people with and without disabilities to commemorate the brave souls we have lost to war. Not only do the people we serve benefit from this experience, but so does the whole community.”

The “Community Connections” program helps people with disabilities give back to their community. UCP Seguin of Greater Chicago is an affiliate of United Cerebral Palsy serving 1000 children and adults with disabilities throughout the Greater Chicago area.