The other day I was hanging out with one of our physical therapists who does wheelchair assessments and fittings.
If you have been watching the famous reality TV show,” Dancing with the Stars” you should be very familiar with the name “JR Martinez.” Although, even if you haven’t you still may have heard the name or at least “the talk.” People all over are talking about the war hero that has “won America’s heart” on the reality TV show, but who exactly is this man and why is he on a reality television show that only has so-called “celebrities” competing?
Since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 3 ½ years ago I have learned and become to believe that I was diagnosed for a purpose and that purpose was to help others facing a similar situation as myself either through fundraising, words of encouragement, or motivation as they watch to see what I am capable of accomplishing.
Clay Walker, a multi-platinum country music artist discovered his passion for music at the age of 15 competing in community talent competitions. By the age of 17, he wrote and self-recorded his own song and hand delivered the tape to a local radio station. The radio station told the young boy that they did not play self-submitted tapes. However, they listened to his tape and confessed it was “too good to pass up.” He continued singing at local restaurants around Beaumont, Texas until the young singer’s talent was officially discovered in 1993. He has since released a total of 11 albums.
How would you like to be told you could be superman, the actual superman, a character that has been around since 1932 and known all around the world? Well, a man that did not take anything for granted had that very opportunity.
When you were a child, didn’t you grow up wishing you could “be somebody?” Somebody that people would recognize, look up to, admire, almost idolize. Ever since I was a small child I desperately wanted to be something great, probably as most children do. Maybe go to the moon, run for president, play professional sports, become an award winning singer or actor, anything!! Every child’s dream is to be: GREAT.
A few weeks ago I wrote a blog titled “Teaching sports to special needs athletes: A tripod of influences”. In that blog I discussed how pedagogy (how you teach), content (what you teach) and relationships all contribute to the effectiveness of the athlete’s participation and enjoyment of sports. Positive athlete –coach relationships are particularly important for special needs athletes. Coaches are in a powerful position to role model, mentor and advocate for athletes for whom the social aspects of sports present challenges. Research has shown that peer culture (especially in sports), when role modeled by a coach that values diversity, can support effective and authentic inclusion. The consequence is that athletes with challenges feel valued and accepted by teammates. Sadly, this is not the universal experience of some special needs athletes. Some of these athletes participate in “a culture of exclusion which posits that isolating and marginalizing someone is appropriate, acceptable and sometimes even laudatory” (Sapon-Shevin, 2003).
I recently attended a two and a half day retreat with my friend and colleague Aldea LaParr. Aldea works and volunteers in the disability field and we see each other approximately four times a year. Aldea is the mother of three teenage boys. She owns her own web design business. Aldea also has Cerebral Palsy.