The International Day of Disabled Persons started back in 1992. The UN estimate that a billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, live with a disability of some kind. A fifth of that figure deal with serious issues.
We’re celebrating the resilience and energy in and around this community with a roundup some of the best projects dealing with disability.
Wheelchair dance company
Who are they? Marisa Hamamoto’s stated aim is to make Infinite Flow the Alvin Ailey of wheelchair dance. Her LA-based organisation describes itself as a ‘social movement’ aiming to bring dance to as many people as possible – especially wheelchair users and people with disabilities. She’s got a personal connection to the subject too: briefly paralysed during a dance class, she knows better than most what it’s like to lose your mobility.
What’s so special about them? Hamamoto’s videos have racked up a lot of views – 5.5 million on one alone. They’re preaching a new gospel – and getting heard.
What’s next? Infinite Flow run regular flashmobs and fundraisers, all updated on their Facebook.. And more incredible videos, of course.
Creating professional dancers with Down Syndrome
Who are they? Brazilian dance school and company focusing on contemporary dance for people with Down Syndrome. Founder Flora Bitancourt realised that dance wasn’t just a nice thing to do – it also had a major impact on motor skills, language development and confidence in her dancers.
What’s so special about them? The idea that supporting creativity in people with disabilities can help society as a whole runs through the company – promoting respect, empathy and resilience for all. They’re getting worldwide attention: Movimentarte’s dancers were invited to attend this summer’s major European dance festival ImPulsTanz.
What’s next? Applications are now open for their 2018 musical.
Khof and Khuk Bakery
Muffin-making employment for people with disabilities
Who are they? 19 year old Thato Mafokwane set up his bakery specialising in that township favourite – muffins – using local bakers with disabilities.
What’s so special about them? The bakery produces tasty treats but also trains young people from the township how to bake and make a living for themselves. They hire people with and without disabilities – and two of their four employees have gone on to university.
What’s next? They’re planning to run courses with local schools and roll the bakery out nationwide.
Som da Pele
Drum school for deaf percussionists
Who are they? Irton ‘Batman’ Silva set up Som Da Pele (it translates as ‘skin sound’) in Recife, northeastern Brazil to bridge the gap between hearing and non-hearing communities with his troupe of incredible deaf drummers.
What’s so special about them? The drummers are guided by an innovative line of lights which flash and change to dictate rhythm and intensity. They were selected to play in the closing ceremony of the recent Paralympic Games.
What’s next? One of their drummers, Gabriel, loves heavy metal and they’re planning a new metal-focused project for deaf musicians.
Hacks for DIY adapted products
Who are they? Tech heads using their skills to create affordable DIY hacks for people with disabilities who can’t afford high-end adapted products.
What’s so special about them? They hold over 80 open-source designs on their website, along with step by step instructions on making them. Products range from portable wheelchair ramps to the Eyewriter which uses eye movement to dictate writing.
What’s next? More opportunities for hackers, makers and people with disabilities to come together in tech creativity.