Tagged with: ADA awareness disability health inclusive life sport wheelchair
In this month of July in which we celebrate the 25th year of the Americans with Disabilities Act, there have been many small events that are instrumental in reflecting the benefits of ADA. One of those events was the Academy Award nominated documentary film called “Murderball.” It was on July 8, 2005 that it was released nation-wide to mainstream audiences. The impact of this documentary is still being felt today.
It was ten years ago today that my life and lives of those who participated in the film experienced what I would characterize as an epiphany. By definition an epiphany is a “striking or sudden realization.” What was it that we realized? At the time, for those who participated in the film, it could be viewed as a smaller version of “Beatle mania. “As the years have passed it has become more of a wake-up call or a slam in the face of mainstream America.
The slam represents the impact that this film not only made in the eyes of the mainstream world but more importantly in establishing the importance of recreation and competitive sport in the lives of people with disability. It was the first time that America and the world could see how people with disability live independently. It showed how the need for recreation and competitive sport are vital in maintaining a healthy active life. From this perspective the growth of wheelchair sport has flourished since 2005. Wheelchair sport at a recreational and Junior lever has experienced much growth. Not to mention the success at a competitive and Paralympic level world wide. From an ADA stance, this has called for even more recreational and competitive opportunities would have to be addressed to benefit the most underserved population in the US.
“Murderball” is a platform to which our nation needed to focus on the health disparities for people with disabilities. It opened eyes to the secondary health conditions for people with disabilities due to obesity and lack of fitness opportunities. “Murderball” is a fine example of the benefits that derive from a healthy active lifestyle. It displayed the benefits of a barrier free environment within competitive sport. Many of the “Murderball” participants are educated athletes that attended universities, are employed full-time, and have raised families. This small Indie film revealed a utopia of what can happen in a country when people with disabilities are given opportunities to compete at the ultimate level and strive for the highest of integrity.
The sport of wheelchair rugby has become very elite. The United States Quad Rugby Association has over 550 athletes and 40 teams. Many of the athletes include women and military veterans. The competitiveness and the standards for team USA wheelchair rugby are even more arduous than when I played. Reaching the Paralympic level has become a grueling and demanding process. Yet, USAWR still has the best coaches, staff and athletes in the world. The Paralympic movement has also been propelled with more TV coverage in the states than every before. The social media movement itself has brought Paralympic sports to the mainstream world-wide.
For people with disabilities, “Murderball” brought awareness to a growing disability culture. It provides a glimpse of what could be possible without barriers. It empowers those to strive toward goals for the best health, competitiveness, and opportunity. Many patients in rehabilitation centers have said how “Murderball” was the starting point to move forward in their lives and dealing with their disability. Healthcare professionals and educators have also seen the academic benefits of the film. Many universities have classes and their syllabus specifically featuring “Murderball.”
At the end of the day, “Murderball” has been critical in changing the mindset of mainstream American in its view towards people with disability. America has responded in its commitment to inclusion, accessibility and universal design toward facilities and programs, which would benefit everyone. It has also expressed the need to provide inclusive opportunities in schools and in competitive sport. However, we have only just begun. There are still limited opportunities and barriers for many people with disability especially in regards to exercise, transportation, and employment. I guess we can use another wake-up call. After 10 years, “Murderball” is still slamming away ready to answer that call.
What are your favorite moments and memories from the film “Murderball?”