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Meet Joey from The Broward Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization

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Register TODAY to be on Captain Lee’s FITTEAM at the Buddy Walk in Markham Park in Sunrise, Florida: October 15, 2017 – 8:30am. Register here to walk with Captain Lee: BGCdownsyndrome.org/BW All funds and donations raised will support the Broward Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization: www.bgcdownsyndrome.org Joining Captain Lee with be: • Olivia Dissman of Olivia’s Angels Foundation: https://www.oafl.org • Garrett Holeve of Garrett’s Fight Foundation: https://www.garrettsfight.org Please join us for a lot of FUN and to raise funding and awareness for Broward Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization – October 15, 2017 954-825-0400

John Tucker & Rachel Osterbach Born This Way Interview

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Los Angeles, Calif., Sept. 11 – A&E Network’s critically acclaimed and award-winning original docuseries Born This Way’s honors keep adding up – showing that disability is a winning theme. This series starring a cast with disabilities, which received six Emmy nominations this year, won two Emmy’s at Saturday night’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards for Casting for a Reality Program and Cinematography for a Reality Program – after bringing home the Emmy for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Series in 2016.

Produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, Born This Way, an unscripted reality show on A&E, follows a group of seven young adults with Down syndrome along with their family and friends in Southern California. Because its focus is on showing their everyday lives, including employment, efforts for independent housing, loves and more, Born this Way breaks down stigmas surrounding disability.

A Focus on Diverse Casting

Casting Director Sasha Alpert holding her Emmy
Born This Way Casting Director Sasha Alpert

Show creator Jonathan Murray, the innovator behind the first-ever reality-show, The Real World, and many other hit shows including Keeping Up with the Kardashians, said the cast members of Born This Way remind all of us that “every individual has something to contribute.”

“In thinking about the show, we wanted to focus on the ability within the disability and I think that is what is exciting to see,” said Murray. “We also are very proud of the fact that our cast is very diverse. Born This Way has a cast that includes people who are African American, Hispanic and Asian. This is a breakthrough for those minority communities as well.”

This is the first year the Television Academy presented an award for Casting for a Reality Program, which Sasha Alpert and Megan Sleeper won for Born This Way.

Bruce and Sean wearing tuxes, posing for the camera. Bruce holding an Emmy.
Cinematographer Bruce Ready with Born This Way Cast Member Sean McElwee

“Everyone experiences powerful stories,” Alpert said. “By not including a diverse group of people, we are limiting our ability to tell compelling stories. If we make television that doesn’t embrace the various populations around us, we limit the narratives we tell.”

Also during Saturday’s first half of the two-night Creative Arts Award presentation at the Microsoft Theater, Bruce Ready, Born This Way‘s cinematographer, took home the Outstanding Reality Cinematography Emmy. The awards on Saturday evening were presented for reality, documentary and animated programs.

Making More History

Born This Way cast members Rachel Osterbach and John Tucker made history when they became the first individuals with Down Syndrome to present at any major awards ceremony when they presented awards in three categories at the Creative Arts Emmys.

Rachel Osterbach and John Tucker posing in a gown and a tux
Born This Way‘s Rachel Osterbach and John Tucker

“Rachel and John graced the stage like true professionals to rousing applause,” said Gail Williamson, a talent agent who focuses on clients with disabilities at Kazarian, Measures, Ruskin and Associates Talent Agency. “When doctors told their parents about the diagnosis of Down syndrome and listed what they thought their children’s future would be like, they never thought to include they would be presenters at the Emmy Awards some day.”

“In an evening that emphasized ‘inclusion’ and ‘diversity,’ it was powerful to have Rachel and John, who both have Down syndrome, included in the diverse group of award presenters,” Murray added.

RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, has been honored to consult during the creation of Born This Way and congratulates the entire team for its hard work in achieving this continued recognition.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, RespectAbility’s president who herself has a disability and who knows what it means to raise a child with multiple disabilities, said: “I am thrilled that the Emmy’s see the value in showing real people with disabilities and their powerful lives on TV. For generations TV-viewers saw people with disabilities through the lens of the Jerry Lewis telethon. Though it was well intended, it showed people’s inabilities and used a lens of pity. Born This Way is empowering and uplifting. It shows, as one member of the cast frequently says, that the public should not ‘Limit me.’”

Increasing Disability Inclusion in Television

The Ruderman White Paper on Disability in Television shows that disability often is absent from mainstream film and television – both the depiction of and, even when a character has a disability, the actor often does not. According to the report, an actor pretending to have a disability plays more than 95 percent of characters with disabilities. Furthermore, according to a recent report by The Media, Diversity, & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, only 2.7 percent of all speaking or named characters in film were shown to have a disability in 2016 (up from 2.4 percent in 2015). None of the leading characters were from an underrepresented racial/ethnic group or the LGBT community.

“By winning the Emmy for casting, A&E’s Born This Way has broken the glass ceiling for people with disabilities of all backgrounds,” Mizrahi added. “Programs like Born This Way that feature people with disabilities, or that tackle disability issues, in a positive light can be successful both critically and financially. Audiences want to see strong, capable role models with disabilities. By focusing on showing these young individuals’ everyday life choices regarding employment, living independently and dating, Born this Way breaks down stigmas surrounding disability.”

Murray agrees that shows like Born This Way and more diversity in Hollywood are good business.

“Hollywood has been really, really slow to recognize the diversity of this country,” he said. “I think it is catching up fast now. And I think it’s realizing that diversity is good business. I don’t think it’s necessarily because it is altruistic. I think they are recognizing that TV shows will do better if they reflect what the country is.”

According to the U.S. Census, one in five Americans has a disability. Currently 70 percent of working-age people with disabilities are not working – even though most of them want jobs and independence. The numbers are even worse for people with Down syndrome. According to the National Down Syndrome Society, there are more than 400,000 people with Down syndrome. Many studies show that people with disabilities, including those with Down syndrome, can work successfully and live relatively independently. The individuals on Born this Way prove that since several are productive employees and one is a business owner herself.

“We have a long way to go in how television shows people with disabilities,” Mizrahi said. “For almost five decades, the Jerry Lewis telethon stigmatized people with disabilities by showing what people with disabilities CAN’T do. Now is the time to show what people with disabilities CAN do.”

Recently, Born This Way was chosen as one of six honorees for the 2016 Television Academy Honors, an award that recognizes “television programming that inspires, informs and motivates.”

“By honoring and embracing diversity on television, Born This Way is uniquely redefining the art of honest storytelling and altering the way society views individuals with differences,” Elaine Fontain Bryant, EVP and Head of Programming for A&E said.

“What I would like to see is that more shows have a diversity to them where the diversity is not the point of the show,” Murray added. “I’d like to get beyond the labels to accurately reflect what is going on in our country today.”

Watch the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on FXX on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 8:00 p.m. ET before the highest-profile categories are awarded in a ceremony telecast live on CBS on Sunday, Sept. 17.

 

Article credit: www.respectability.org.

Employment, Health Care and Disability Policy Update: August 2017

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The LEAD Center’s Policy Update – Employment, Health Care and Disability provides policymakers, disability service professionals, and individuals with disabilities and their families with information about relevant policy developments regarding Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and related topics, with a focus on improving employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

The August 2017 update includes information about the release of the National Autism Indicators Report from the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute; upcoming bipartisan hearings the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) will hold in September; various ways the government celebrated the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); HCBS transition plan updates; the release of the 2015 Annual Evaluation Report from Mathematica Policy Research; and more. Download the August 2017 Employment, Health Care and Disability Policy Update.

The LEAD Center Policy Update – Employment, Health Care and Disability is a project of the LEAD Center in collaboration with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

Please share this important and timely resource with your network, via social media, etc. Want to share feedback or topics you would like to see addressed in a future issue? Please write us at info@leadcenter.org.

 

FVDD Annual Statewide Conference

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Florida’s Voice on Developmental Disabilities (FVDD) announces its annual statewide conference which will take place on Saturday, October 28, 2017, at Holy Cross Hospital, 4725 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. This will be an all-day conference, registration will include breakfast and lunch, and the theme will be “Empowering You to Be the Best Advocate Possible.”

The program is open to the general public, although CLE’s will be offered to attorneys who attend. Please help promote this Conference by forwarding this information to prospective attendees.

We will have a variety of superb speakers – including a morning town hall meeting of legislators, and other professionals, including self-advocates, will be there to train attendees in advocacy skills, legislative updates, etc.

You may register on line at www.floridasvoice.org – the entire program and registration fees are posted on our website.

Questions? Please call 954/975-5159 [Arlene Lakin, Esq.].

Florida’s Voice on Developmental Disabilities
PO Box 24531
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33307
954/975-5159
www.floridasvoice.org
E-mail: FVDDorg@aol.com

Calling All Teachers

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Broward Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization, Broward County Public Schools and Exceptional Student Learning Support Division
are proud to present

TEACHER TRAINING

Practical Solutions for Educating Students with Down syndrome
Designed to enhance teachers’ ability to educate students in the least restrictive environment

Download Brochure

Special Needs Scholarship

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The Gardiner Scholarship helps families customize education plans for their children with special needs.

The Gardiner Scholarship is available for qualified Florida students beginning at age 3 through 22 or high school graduate, whichever comes first. To qualify students must be diagnosed with one of the following: autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy, Phalen McDermid syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Spina bifida, Williams syndrome or an intellectual disability (severe cognitive impairment). Also, students who are deemed “high risk” due to developmental delays and who are not older than 5 on Sept. 1 may be eligible for the year they are applying.

The Gardiner Scholarship allows parents to direct their scholarship funds toward a combination of approved programs and providers they think will best meet their children’s unique needs. These include approved private schools, therapists, specialists, curriculum, technology— even a college savings account.

We are currently accepting applications for the Gardiner Scholarship for the 2017-18 school year. Scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. To apply for the Gardiner Scholarship for the 2017-18 school year, please click here.

Please note: Scholarships are awarded to eligible students on a first-come, first-served basis once their applications are completed. Please be sure to advise families early, in order to receive a 100% award scholarship students must be deemed eligible no later than August 1st.

Another option is the Income-based Florida Tax Credit Scholarship (FTC), a program that empowers low-income families to find the K-12 school that best meets their children’s learning needs. Families may choose between two scholarship options: one that helps cover private school tuition and fees, or one that assists with transportation costs to attend a public school in another county. If a family’s household income qualifies for the free or reduced-price school lunch program (185 percent of the federal poverty guidelines), or, if the family receives SNAP (food stamps), TANF, or FDPIR, the student may be eligible.

We are currently accepting applications for the Income Based Scholarship for the 2017-18 school year. Scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. To apply for the income-based scholarship for the 2017-18 school year, families may click here.

Please note: Income-based scholarships for new students are limited. Scholarships are awarded to eligible students on a first-come, first-served basis once their applications are completed. Please be sure to advise families early, as we anticipate going to a waitlist much earlier than usual.

Children who are in foster care or out-of-home care, or who are homeless may also be eligible for either of these TWO scholarships.

To learn more about the scholarships, please visit www.StepUpForStudents.org.

You may also view our current flier at www.StepUpForStudents.org/flier.

Thank you for helping us reach children who may benefit from our two K-12 scholarship opportunities.

Courtney Studios Donates Photography to Gold Coast

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Meet Courtney Ortiz

PREMIER FAMILY & CHILDREN’S PHOTOGRAPHER

Hi! I’m Courtney. Mother, wife, photographer, and owner of Courtney Studios. I started Courtney Ortiz Photography when my son Owen was 10 months old. I was an elementary school teacher for the 6 years before kids and the idea of starting a business to give me more flexibility and time to be with my son was exciting. Fast forward eight years and 3 kids later, Courtney Ortiz Photography is now Courtney Studios — a gorgeous natural light portrait studio located in the heart of downtown Hollywood, and voted “Best Family Photographer” by South Florida Parenting Magazine 2014 & 2015. Since the studio began in 2007, I still hold strong to the ideal that portrait photography is an art that should be enjoyed in your home, in the rooms where you feel the most love.

Gustavo Earns Green Belt

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Gustavo has come a long way since he started training at Mixed Martial Arts Center!

Gustavo’s coach, Sensei Pedro Font, says he’s a great student and one of his best students. He does’t consider him a great kicker, a great grappler or a great striker as a great student. Those are all great skills to have but Gustavo excels in Mindset, Mastery, Attitude & Character says Coach Font. Those are the qualities that, to his coach, make a student great. All qualities that Gustavo displays.

More than anything Coach Font is impressed by his personality. Gustavo is a gentle warm hearted boy who is 100% courageous, limitless and has such a beautiful outlook on things. He has an undeniable ability to tackle multiple tasks with ease. He finds it remarkable to see him take on, and excel, two different martial arts styles simultaneously.

Coach Font firmly believe that Gustavo can even become one of our volunteer instructors and is excited about that possibility.

Great job Gustavo! BGCDSO is very proud of you! Keep up the great work!