Awesome PWDs Make Bitch Media’s Top 50Awesome PWDs Make Bitch Media’s Top 50

Senator Tammy Duckworth, activist Alice Wong and model Aaron Philip were among a number of prominent honorees with disabilities on the 2018 Bitch 50, a list recognizing “the most impactful creators, artists, and activists in pop culture whose imaginations extend beyond normalizing and affirming the same mainstream messages.” See the list at bit.ly/2RTgcTn

One Small Roll for Mankind

Eddie NdopuSouth African disability rights activist Eddie Ndopu spent International Day of Persons with Disabilities with his wheels firmly planted on the ground, but if he has his way, next Dec. 3 he will boldly celebrate where no person with a disability has celebrated before. As part of the run-up to this year’s IDPD, Ndopu, 27, announced he is working with an aerospace company and the United Nations to realize his dream of becoming the first person with a disability in space. “The idea is to address the U.N. from the International Space Station for next year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities as a call to action on disability justice and to support the Sustainable Development Goals,” he explained to MTV. The cable station will chronicle his efforts for broadcast.

Born with spinal muscular atrophy, Ndopu takes great pride in pushing the boundaries of what is possible. “My biggest accomplishment has to be outliving my prognosis — I wasn’t supposed to live beyond the age of 5, and on November 29 I turned 27. I’m continuing to live a full life despite the predictions, aspersions and limits set for me both by society and medicine,” he told africanleadershipacademy.com. The first black person with a disability to graduate from Oxford, he heads Amnesty International’s youth activism program in Africa, started the Evolve Initiative and was named by Pacific Standard as one of its Top 30 Thinkers Under 30.

Model Representation

Jillian Mercado was one of three models with disabilities to grace the online cover of Teen Vogue’s September issue and to be prominently featured in the magazine’s in-depth look at “What it’s like to be a disabled model in the fashion industry.” Mercado, who has spastic muscular dystrophy, has modeled for Nordstrom, Diesel, Target and more while becoming one of the prominent faces of disability in modeling. “It’s such a beautiful moment in time now that we have the ability to voice our opinion, to voice our frustration that we’ve always been in the room but for some reason we’ve been invisible,” she tells Teen Vogue. “And for casting directors to finally put their glasses on and see us.”

Power Chair Power

End your device charging woes and stay connected and powered up while you are on the go with the Cheelcare USB Adaptor/Charger. Designed specifically for power wheelchairs and scooters, the charger clamps on and draws power from your battery without restricting your ability to drive. Starting at $45 at shop.cheelcare.com

Drive With Your Face

Remember when your mom told you that if you keep making that face it might get stuck that way forever? Well, now it might also help you drive your power wheelchair, thanks to a new app from Intel and Brazil-based Hoobox Robotics. Their new app, Wheelie 7, works with 95 percent of motorized wheelchairs and allows users to control their chairs by making 10 facial expressions, from smiling to winking. The app relies on facial recognition software and an Intel 3D RealSense Depth Camera that mounts on the chair. Endgadget reports the app is already being tested by 60 wheelchair users in the U.S. Watch a demo at youtu.be/okr-JY98iec

Bathe Better

If you’re seeking the safety and ease of a roll-in shower without the hassle of remodeling, the Shower Bay could be the solution. Designed by a brother and sister caregiving duo who were looking to improve the experience of the people they worked with while also making it easier to assist them, the Shower Bay provides an easy alternative to bed baths. With no tools or plumbing modifications required, just snap the roll-in unit together anywhere you can connect to a standard faucet, turn on the pump, and you’re set. If you decide to move, or simply want a new view while showering, it’s easy to disassemble and reassemble. Listed at $3,450 at showerbay.com

Wheelz Gets Hot Wheels

the first wheelchair user to have his own Hot WheelsAaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham is famous for inventing WCMX, holding four Guinness World Records and recording the world’s first backflip in a wheelchair, but his latest accomplishment may be even cooler — he is the first wheelchair user to have his own Hot Wheels. “It’s unreal,” says Fotheringham, who has spina bifida. “I always thought the wheelchair is like a toy,
and now it actually is.”

For over a year, Fotheringham worked with designers from Hot Wheels to refine the Wheelie Chair. “Right off the bat they made it look super cool,” he says. The actual toy is modeled on the green wheelchair with orange casters he made famous. The packaging depicts Fotheringham doing a handplant at the top of a skatepark bowl, with his “Wheelz” signature featured prominently below. “I think it’s really cool that little kids are now able to have a wheelchair to play with.”

Based on the social media response to Fotheringham’s reveal on Facebook, the toy is going to be a huge hit. Since Nov. 14, over 7,300 people have liked his post and over 4,500 have shared it. One wheelchair-using mom’s comment summed up Fotheringham’s impact. “Whenever my son wants me to jump a curb, he says, ‘Mom, Aaron Fotheringham it!’ You’re a verb in our house!!”

Fotheringham admits to being caught slightly off-guard by the reaction. “I guess I didn’t fully expect the response I got,” he says. “It’s been such a positive thing.”

The toy is available at retailers and online. Asked how he could top this, Fotheringham laughs. “I don’t know,” he says, “I think I’m just gonna retire.”

Watch

Over a year after it made its debut at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, The Upside, the Hollywood remake of the French quad-caregiver hit the Intouchables, is scheduled for wide release Jan. 11. Look for a full review of the Bryan Cranston-Kevin Hart film in our February issue.

Listen

The final United on Wheels podcast of 2018 covers all your cathing questions and a whole lot more about urinary health and SCI. New Mobility scribe Bob Vogel and United Spinal resource specialist/nurse Jane Wierbicky share best practices, helpful ideas and interesting anecdotes to help you stay healthy. Listen at unitedonwheels.blubrry.net