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10 Actors With Disabilities You Should Know About

While some Hollywood productions feature characters with disabilities, actors with disabilities are often sorely under-represented in entertainment media. Today, we’ve compiled a list of 10 actors and actresses with disabilities that we think you should know about. 

Hugo Weaving – Epilepsy

Weaving has held major roles in movies such as Lord of the Rings, The Matrix Trilogy, and V for Vendetta. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including two Australian Film Institute Awards (AFI) for Best Actor in a Leading Role and three total nominations. The AFI is the Australian equivalent of an Academy Award.

Learn more about Weaving on his IMDB page.

 

Michael J. Fox – Parkinsons

Best known for his role as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future trilogy, Michael J. Fox has been in the starlight since adolescence. He has won five Primetime Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, a Grammy Award, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Fox developed Parkinson’s disease at the age of 29, and has since become a major advocate for research toward finding a cure, and founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2000.

Learn more about Fox on his IMDB page.

 

Peter Dinklage – Dwarfism

Dinklage is a beloved American actor and producer, who received widespread acclaim for his role as Tyrion Lannister in HBO’s Game of Thrones television series, a role which would see him win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series a record four times.

Learn more about Dinklage on his IMDB page.

 

Sylvester Stallone – Partial facial paralysis and a speech disability

Stallone is an American actor, director, screenwriter, producer, and artist. He is best known for his roles as Rocky Balboa and John Rambo. He has been nominated for three Oscars, two Academy Awards, and has won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for Creed. Stallone is still active in the film-making community.

Learn more about Stallone on his IMDB page.

 

Christopher Reeve – Paraplegia

Reeves is best known for his role as Superman, which he won a BAFTA for. He was also nominated for an Emmy, and won a Primetime Emmy Award in Outstanding Informational Special for his 1996 film Without Pity: A Film About Abilities.

Reeve was injured in a horse-riding accident at the age of 42, and was paralyzed from neck down. He became a staunch advocate for the disability community, speaking nationally about paralysis. He created the Christopher Reeve Foundation (now the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation) to aid in funding research about paralysis, and using grants to better the lives of individuals living with disabilities.

Christopher continued his career in Hollywood post-injury as a director, producer, and author.

Learn more about Reeve on his IMDB page.

 

Warwick Davis – Dwarfism

Warwick is an English actor, television presenter, writer, director, comedian, and producer. He has had roles in major motion pictures like Star Wars and Harry Potter.

Davis is the co-founder of Little People UK, which provides support to people with. dwarfism and their families.

Learn more about Davis on his IMDB page.

 

Millie Bobby Brown – Partial deafness

Best known for her breakthrough role as Eleven in Netflix’s Stranger Things, for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. She is the youngest person to be featured on Time 100’s list of the world’s most influential people.

Learn more about Brown on her IMDB page.

 

Daniel Radcliffe – Dyspraxia

Beloved for his role as Harry Potter in the 8 movie series, Radcliffe has been in the international spotlight since the young age of 12. He has been nominated for numerous awards, and continues to act in genres ranging from horror to comedy. In 2008, Radcliffe reveled that he had a mild form of the neurological disorder, developmental coordination disorder, or dyspraxia.

Learn more about Radcliffe on his IMDB page.

 

Lauren Elizabeth Potter – Down syndrome

Known for her role as Becky Jackson on the FOX series, Glee, Potter is a devoted advocate for the disability community. She is partnered with organizations like, AbilityPath, Best Buddies International, the Down Syndrome Association, the American Association of People with Disabilities, and Special Olympics.

Learn more about Potter on her IMDB page.

 

R.J. Mitte – Cerebral Palsy

Mitte is best-known for his role in AMC’s Breaking Bad. He continues to work in films and television series, and is also a successful model. He is a celebrity ambassador for United Cerebral Palsy.

Learn more about Mitte on his IMDB page.

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Meditation: A Motivational Guide to Unlocking the Magic of Mindfulness

Joseph Maley Foundation Communications Associate, Lauren Maley, is a dedicated meditator. She has found solace from a number of ailments, both physical and mental, from the practice of meditation, and she is excited to share what she knows with our community. If you are experiencing increased anxiety or stress during these difficult times, or if you’re simply interested in what meditation is and what it may offer, we hope you find some valuable information within this week’s blog.

Hello, there. I’m Lauren, and I am here to tell you about the basic information, my personal journey, and the little known ideas and secrets behind meditation.

Now, I cannot make any real promises, but if you are already here and reading this, congratulations. You are on your first step towards achieving, what I believe to be, a real-life superpower. One you have already had inside you this entire time.

So, sit up tall with your back straightened, take a deep breath in and out, close your eyes (wait, no, don’t close your eyes if you’re reading this!), and let’s begin.

 

Let’s start with the basics. What is mindfulness and meditation?

You probably picture mediation to be sitting with your legs crossed on a cushion humming “Ommmm,” or some variation on that theme. You aren’t totally wrong, but there’s more to it than that. There are many definitions for meditation, but we are going to focus on Mindfulness Meditation.

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be aware of our present moment, everything happening around us, the sensations, feelings, and thoughts within us, and our ability to control our reactions and not be overwhelmed by them.

At first, this idea seemed utterly impossible to me. Think about the world we live in right now. We are all under extraordinary circumstances brought on by COVID-19. Suddenly, we have found ourselves worrying much more, confronting the unknown. You may feel like you’re living in a state of fear, overwhelmed by sadness, loneliness, or the increased responsibilities and hurdles that we now must navigate.

Whether it is a never-ending to-do list, a fight with a friend, a bad headache, the wifi going out, or something more permanent like chronic pain, anxiety, or depression, mindfulness and practicing meditation may help you navigate these experiences and sensations, and in turn find them to be much more manageable.

“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally,” says Mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Meditation is the practice of taking a moment to withhold judgement, explore the curiosities of our own mind with a loving, gentle approach.

Through various tactics and approaches, we can turn our attention inwards and learn how to better manage these unwanted feelings and stressors in our lives. Not every tactic works for every person, but there is such a range of ways to meditate, and so much to explore, that with practice and curiosity, you will likely find a way of meditation that works for you. Let’s explore some of the most popular and basic ways to meditate.

 

The most basic form of meditation focuses on the breath. Breathing is something that is always there, it is steady, and something very easy to anchor yourself to. The physical sensation of breathing can help you stay focused on the present moment.

Throughout your meditation practice, you may find yourself drifting away. Thoughts will arise, sounds will distract you, a sensation inside may irritate you, an emotion may overcome you…this is okay. As soon as you notice it, take that moment and return to the practice of focusing on the breath and the moment. This is important. We will come back to this. 

Here is a step-by-step example on how to begin meditating from Mindful.Org: 

A Simple Meditation Practice

  1. Sit comfortably. Find a spot that gives you a stable, solid, comfortable seat.
  2. Notice what your legs are doing. If on a cushion, cross your legs comfortably in front of you. If on a chair, rest the bottoms of your feet on the floor.
  3. Straighten your upper body—but don’t stiffen. Your spine has natural curvature. Let it be there.
  4. Notice what your arms are doing. Situate your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Rest the palms of your hands on your legs wherever it feels most natural.
  5. Soften your gaze. Drop your chin a little and let your gaze fall gently downward. It’s not necessary to close your eyes. You can simply let what appears before your eyes be there without focusing on it.
  6. Feel your breath. Bring your attention to the physical sensation of breathing: the air moving through your nose or mouth, the rising and falling of your belly, or your chest.
  7. Notice when your mind wanders from your breath. Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. Don’t worry. There’s no need to block or eliminate thinking. When you notice your mind wandering gently return your attention to the breath.
  8. Be kind about your wandering mind. You may find your mind wandering constantlythat’s normal, too. Instead of wrestling with your thoughts, practice observing them without reacting. Just sit and pay attention. As hard as it is to maintain, that’s all there is. Come back to your breath over and over again, without judgment or expectation.
  9. When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.

Seems simple enough, right? Not so much. The ability to meditate freely like this takes a lot of practice. This is why I thought I would never be able to meditate or it could never work for me. I hate focusing on my breath, because I have anxiety. The irregularity of it made me so much more uncomfortable when I tried to focus on it. It was not until I discovered that there are alternative ways to achieve a meditative state that I began to fully appreciate the practice of meditation.

 

By now, I have explored meditation thoroughly, and I’ve learned a few things along the way that I believe could be helpful to beginners. I am a former meditation skeptic, but I now credit the practice as the most impactful tool I have found to help me function with a chronic autoimmune disease, cognitive impairment, anxiety, ADHD, and impulsive tendencies. Meditation has also allowed me to develop a passionate attitude towards life.

Below are some of the things I wish I’d known as a meditation beginner:

  1. Meditation is not the sensationalized moment of clarity, but the process of acknowledging your wandering mind, and the active intent and pursuit to bring yourself back to attention. Meditation is a practice, a difficult one. Meditating is achieved in the moment when you realize you have drifted into your thoughts or sensations and you bring yourself back to your focal point that is anchoring you to the moment. The more you get distracted, and the more you have to bring yourself back, the better you become. It is this awareness and active choice to refocus that is what meditation is all about. 
  2. Meditations that take you on a guided imaginative story are a great place to begin. Listening along to someone telling you to imagine doing, feeling, sensing, and exploring different things is a very easy way to learn how to focus the mind. This is the key to most mediations for children, as well. 
  3. Your focal point does not have to be the breath. It can be a sound, the feeling of air on your skin, a sensation inside of you, and even – this one is cool – the lack of sensation either somewhere around or inside of you. 
  4. Meditation is not just a useful tool to use when you are stressed out, it actually fundamentally changes your brain and behaviors.Taking 20 minutes to meditate, no matter how inconvenient or overwhelmed you are, can be an extraordinarily beneficial habit. However, the real benefit to meditation comes from daily practice. The more you practice meditation, you may get frustrated and think that you aren’t getting any better. How do you even tell if you are getting any better? Well, my friends, it isn’t in your meditation practices that you can tell if you are getting better. It is in your everyday life. Mind Blowing, right? The skills you practice in meditation can make your every day life easier. That is the purpose of it. You think before reacting, you are more aware of sensations and can notice them. Meditation allows you to practice the skill of reeling your attention back in, so that you do not get caught up in negative thinking. This can make stress less of a burden, and moving through the world may feel easier and kinder.

 

Be comforted in the fact that there are endless resources available to you as you begin your journey into meditation.

Guided meditation is a great first step for beginners. There are guided meditation that focus on anxiety, sleep, pain, focus, self-love – you name it! It is out there. Below are links to several videos, apps, and websites that can help you get started.

Personally, I highly recommend to anyone, beginners, or even practiced meditators: “How To Meditate” by Jeff Warren. This is a simple 30-day program available for free on the Calm app, which can be accessed via computer as well. Here is the desktop-friendly link

Calm also has countless guided meditations for beginners and specific topics like the ones mentioned above (and much more). They also have excellent meditation programming for kids. Calm has inspiring guest meditations led by stars like Lebron James, meditative music from Diplo, Kygo, Disney, Sam Smith, and Moby, and my personal favorite, a sleep story narrated by Harry Styles. 

 

Another app that is quite popular is Headspace.

 

Helpful Websites:

And of course, Youtube has a virtual cornucopia of meditation content. 

I wish you the best of luck in your meditation journey!

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Meet Our Interns!

 

JMF is excited to introduce our Fall 2020 Interns! These IUPUI and UIndy students are giving their time this semester to help JMF create new and engaging digital content for our program partners. Keep reading to learn more about all three of these impressive students.

Tell us a little about yourself! What’s your name, what do you go by, what’re your pronouns, where you’re from, etc.

My name is Marissa Legault and unfortunately there aren’t many good nicknames to come out of that so I go by Marissa (she/her). I grew up in New Carlisle, a small town in northwest Indiana. I completed my undergraduate degree at Indiana University in Bloomington where I majored in exercise science and minored in psychology. I moved to the Indianapolis area for graduate school in the spring of 2018. I am an IU Occupational Therapy Clinical Doctorate Student at IUPUI.

 

Why did you decide to volunteer at JMF?

When searching for a site to be paired with for my capstone project, I was looking for an organization that shared my passion for educating youth with a basis in holistic values. JMF provides invaluable services to their community and I am continually inspired by the selfless work they do to encourage and support youths and their families in the Indianapolis area. Working with the Foundation is allowing me to connect my passions with my work in a way I have always dreamt of.

 

What does JMF mean to you?

To me, JMF means bringing people together to assure that each member of the community receives equitable treatment and opportunities. 

 

How do you think your talents and skills help serve JMF’s mission?

Occupational therapy is a profession which is client-centered and evidence-based. Through my studies I have gained the skills to observe and research various aspects impacting the daily lives of individuals, and apply that knowledge to interventions which are aimed to improve quality of life.

 

What are you doing for JMF during your internship? And what are you most excited about for this project?

I am working with JMF to adapt their programs so that they are able to be implemented into the new, socially distanced, structure in schools. This will look like assessing various aspects of the curriculum, creating virtual learning materials, and implementing evidence-based interventions. I am most excited about getting to work and interact with members of the community who are passionate about what they do. 

 

What’re your plans post-internship?

I will be graduating with my doctorate in occupational therapy in May of 2021. I currently don’t have anything specific lined up, however I hope to be in a pediatric setting that allows me to pursue my interests of working with the mind-body connection and sensory integration.

 

How do you think the skills used in this internship will serve you in the future?

There are many skills I will gain from this internship such as experience working in a community setting, program assessment, curriculum planning, virtual education, and leadership skills.  

 

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to say?

 I would just like to thank JMF for being so welcoming and making me feel supported in my work. It is a pleasure to be paired with an organization which values each of their team members.

Tell us a little about yourself! What’s your name, what do you go by, what’re your pronouns, where you’re from, etc.

My name is Darby Culp and I am a Doctor of Physical Therapy student at UIndy! My preferred pronouns are she/her and I graduated with my Bachelors in exercise science from UIndy in 2019. I am from Cicero, Indiana and family is very important to me. I have 10 nieces and nephews so I travel home quite frequently.

 

Why did you decide to volunteer at JMF?

I decided to start volunteering for JMF in 2016 when a representative came and spoke to my class. I felt very connected to the mission of JMF and specifically adapting any and all exercise modalities so children of all abilities could participate. I volunteered for two summers with the Joseph Maley Fitness program and their swimming and cheerleading sessions. I loved it and knew when another volunteering opportunity came up in my DPT program that I wanted to work with JMF again! I think that my enjoyment of working with kids, combined with my growing skill set as a student physical therapist allows me to help create new content including physical activity for JMF and their programs.

 

What are you doing for JMF during your internship? And what are you most excited about for this project?

I am working with the other interns to create videos that can be used in classrooms to get kids moving and to supplement JMF’s disABILITY Awareness program. These exercises are going to be a wonderful resource for teachers to use in these stressful COVID-19 times, and hopefully will also be a great way to get kids of all abilities active and engaged while at school!

 

What’re your plans post-internship?

My plans post internship are to continue my DPT program, which I will complete in 2022, and become a licensed physical therapist! My time with JMF will certainly help me learn how to be more creative, and fine-tune my skills of working with a pediatric population!

 

Tell us a little about yourself! What’s your name, what do you go by, what’re your pronouns, where you’re from, etc.

Hi! My name is Allison Ketcham, and I am from South Bend, Indiana. I am currently in graduate school at the University of Indianapolis working on my Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Before UIndy, I went to Valparaiso University for my bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. I played volleyball at Valpo and really love to play any sports or games in my free time!

 

Why did you decide to volunteer at JMF?

I decided to volunteer at JMF to fulfill my service-learning project in the physical therapy program. Service-learning gives me the opportunity to learn from, and about, an organization that I may have never encountered. At the same time, I am able to use my knowledge and abilities to help the organization with a project they would like to accomplish. I had never heard of JMF before this opportunity, but I love JMF’s mission and what it stands for. To me, JMF acts to empower children of all abilities.

 

What are you doing for JMF during your internship? And what are you most excited about for this project?

During my internship with JMF, I will be helping to create video resources for schools and programs to use during the COVID-19 crisis when many things cannot be done in person. I am excited to help JMF continue with its mission during these hard times, and I am excited to hopefully impact the lives of many children. For many of these videos, I will be helping brainstorm activities that target movement and physical development. 

 

How do you think your talents and skills help serve JMF’s mission?

I believe that what I have learned at UIndy about the physical aspects of the body will help me serve JMF’s mission. While I will bring my skills and knowledge to this internship, I believe that I will learn a lot from interacting with all of the staff at JMF. 

 

What’re your plans post-internship?

After this internship, I will have about a year and a half left of graduate school. After that, I hope to find a job in the Midwest as a physical therapist!

 

How do you think the skills used in this internship will serve you in the future?

One of the skills I will use most after this internship will be the ability to adapt exercises and skills for people of all abilities. As a physical therapist, this will be a large part of my career as every patient I see will have different abilities and health concerns.

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JMF Virtual Content

  1. Self Care Jar – This activity teaches students about the importance of self-care and shares an on-going, interactive strategy for tracking self-care.
  2. Yes, I Can! – This lesson emphasizes the importance of having a growth mindset and encourages students to practice changing their thinking from “No, I Can’t” to “Yes, I Can.”
  3.  Brain Breaks and Calming Activities for Everyone – This resource shares easy, fun, and calming activities that can be incorporated throughout the day to promote mental and physical health.

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JMF’s E-Learning Content

Now, more than ever, Joseph Maley Foundation recognizes the need for social-emotional learning opportunities for everyone. During this time of social distancing, students may be experiencing an increase in anxiety, stress, loneliness, and fear.

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COVID-19: Resources for Families at Home

Is your family looking for ways to keep active and entertained during the recent Shelter in Place order? We know this can be a stressful and difficult time for families to navigate, so we’d like to provide you with a list of resources and activities to keep your family engaged and happy!   

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Disability Awareness Month: An Interview with Chelsea McCloskey

To celebrate Disability Awareness Month, JMF will be releasing new blogs each week that focus on the impact of our disABILITY Awareness program. This week, we interviewed disABILITY Awareness Manager, Chelsea McCloskey, and asked her to share her experience with this program, and why she is so passionate about disability awareness education for all.

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Chili Cook-Off: Team Feature

JMF’s annual Chili Cook-Off is just days away! We hope you’ll join us for this family-friendly event, and help us serve children of ALL abilities while tasting delicious chili, and helping us crown the 2020 champ. Before the big day (this Saturday, Feb. 8), we’d like to introduce you to just a few of our teams this year. If you’d like to attend this year’s Chili Cook-Off, you can purchase your tickets online here.

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Program Update: Winter 2020

Each quarter, JMF likes to take the time to update our followers and supporters on  each of our five programs. We have a lot of exciting things coming our way in 2020, so don’t forget to check back in every three months, and see how JMF is serving children of ALL abilities in central Indiana! For now, keep reading for our winter 2020 program update:

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Butterfly Ball: How to Participate in this Year’s Silent Auction from Afar

We are just two days away from the Joseph Maley Foundation’s Butterfly Ball. Can’t join us for the festivities on Saturday? No worries! You can still participate in our silent auction. Read on to find instructions for downloading and setting up your mobile bidding app, and a sneak peek at some of our auction items and raffle prizes. If you have any questions, please contact JMF’s Event Manager, Courtney Basso: cbasso@josephmaley.org

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