Programs For Schools: Making Minds Handicap Accessible


Since 2010 Mike Berkson and Tim Wambach have toured the United States with Handicap This!, a two man stage show with a message of tolerance and inclusion. Mike is a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy; Tim has served as Mike’s aide for over 14 years. The pair have captivated and motivated educators and students with their motto: “Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.”

At a time when bullying is under increased scrutiny, Handicap This! brought a dimly lit auditorium of 9th-, 10th-, 11th-graders from a sympathetic quiet to laughter and applause of encouragement, all while sharing a message of acceptance, understanding, and tolerance.

– Newsday

To date, nearly 100,000 people have seen Mike and Tim LIVE on stage. They’ve received standing ovations and rave reviews across the country. Making Minds Handicap Accessible: The Digital Classroom Experience is a revolutionary educational product that promotes Social Emotional Learning and creates inclusion and acceptance one school at a time.

 This Unique Academic Experience will enable your students to:

  • Understand the Power and Benefit of Community Service
  • Appreciate Differences Within Others and Themselves
  • Tap into their own Abilities and Strengths

The Middle School – Junior High Experience:

  • The complete Handicap This! show with full-access for 1 school year
  • Pre & post discussion ideas
  • Downloadable forms
  • Google hangout with Mike and Tim*

Click Here for Middle School Product Info

The High School Experience:

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Sketching with her mouth

Robaba Mohammadi

The story of Robaba Mohammadi, a 16 year old artist from Kabul with partial paralysis of her limbs, is an inspirational one. Robaba has big dreams and is not about to let her disability stop her.

Unable to control her hands and feet except for a few toes since an early age, Robaba taught herself to draw with her mouth. She began to draw less than two years ago after years of hopelessness about her situation. You see, in conflict and poverty stricken Afghanistan, disability is viewed as a weakness and medical help is difficult to obtain.

Robaba began drawing less than two years ago and now dreams of an exhibit at Aga Khan museum, one of the largest art museums in Canada.  She even drew life-like sketches of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Afghan-born Canadian politician, Maryam Monsef.

With her dreams of holding an art exhibition, Robaba offers hope to people with disabilities in Afghanistan where discrimination runs rampant. Life can be very hard, especially for a disabled artist, but it is still possible to achieve goals with a lot of hard work and determination.

images from Huffington Post

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What a Financial Advisor in Granbury Learned from His Dad’s Disability

I recently met Mike McGowan, CFP®, a Financial Advisor, at a Granbury Chamber of Commerce breakfast. I sat at his table and was immediately drawn to his easy smile and friendly demeanor. I asked about his private label practice, McGowan & Associates, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., and it was clear he enjoys helping families identify and work toward achieving their long-term goals. I then told him about my latest venture, Accessible Granbury.  When I explained my desire to create a world in which everyone can participate equally, one location at a time, we realized we had a common interest. Mike shared with me that his dad has muscular dystrophy and needs accommodations to perform basic activities he used to take for granted.

Mike’s father, Sam, led an active and asymptomatic life until well into his fifties when he was diagnosed. Muscular dystrophy is characterized by progressive muscle degeneration caused by abnormal genes that interfere with the production of proteins necessary for healthy muscle formation. Unfortunately no cure currently exists, but medication and therapy can manage symptoms and slow the course of the disease.

Sam’s life changed dramatically since the diagnosis, but a positive attitude, sharp mind and loving family helped him adjust to his new “normal” and continue to enjoy life. Now in his mid-seventies and happily living in an assisted living facility, Sam gets around using a power chair or walker. Family members visit often and make themselves available to drive him to appointments and social events in their accessible Toyota Sienna minivan. He never misses his Wednesday evening dinner group with his wife and friends!

When Mike decided to build a new house for his family in Granbury, he incorporated accessibility into the plans even though his dad was not yet at the point where he needed the accommodations. He thoughtfully anticipated what the future might look like, and knew the expense to build an accessible residence from the start was significantly less than the cost of later renovations. It made sense, especially considering by doing so he was providing himself with the option of aging comfortably in the house should he choose to stay there. The open concept house features 3 foot wide doorways, extra wide hallways, ADA compliant toilets, walk in shower, no steps, and more.  Sam is able to comfortably visit knowing the house is without barriers to access for him.

Mike’s participation in caring for his dad provides him with unique insight into working with older adults. Providing personalized wealth management services to seniors and individuals with disabilities involves special considerations, and Mike is compassionate, knowledgeable, and familiar with issues such as long-term care, Medicare, and local eldercare resources.

Michael McGowan CFP®, a Financial Advisor, is the president of McGowan & Associates, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. He is licensed and registered to conduct business in TX, AL, CO, WA, AZ, WI, FL, CA.

Address: 606 Fall Creek Hwy, Granbury, Tx 76049
Phone: 800.687.4159


The information in these documents is provided by a third party and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. While the publisher has been diligent in attempting to provide accurate information, the accuracy of the information cannot be guaranteed. Laws and regulations change frequently, and are subject to differing legal interpretations. Accordingly, neither the publisher nor any of its licensees or their distributees shall be liable for any loss or damage caused, or alleged to have been caused, by the use or reliance upon this service.


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Five Easy Almost-Free Ways To Be More Accessible-Friendly

People tell me often they want to cater to individuals with mobility issues, but are intimidated and overwhelmed by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and perceived costs involved. Major structural changes might not be possible right now and that’s OK. You may not realize the American Disabilities Act is based on common sense and recognizes altering existing structures is time consuming and costly. The law actually requires only that public accommodations remove architectural barriers when doing so is “readily achievable” and can be done “without much difficulty and expense“. So let’s talk about what you might be able to do without a lot of fuss.

Five Simple Suggestions to Improve Accessibility:

  • Put up clearly visible signs! So many buildings with an inaccessible front door have an entrance somewhere that’s wheelchair accessible, but no one knows!  Patrons might simply leave unless you have a sign that tells visitors to “Go around to the left side of the building for a wheelchair accessible door” or “Press this bell for assistance with the door.” An expensive custom made sign is not necessary; the information can simply be printed from your computer on an 8 1/2 x 11 inch piece of paper, laminated, and posted near the door!
  • Post on your website that your business is accessible-friendly Also, provide the details in your outreach materials, brochures, and registration forms in addition to your website! If you don’t advertise yourself as accessible-friendly, people assume you aren’t. You will lose the business of those with a disability AND their families. If people are not asking for accessibility, check how you advertise your efforts before deciding you don’t need to provide it. This population may simply be going elsewhere.
  • Offer curbside service Your business may not be profitable enough this year to build a ramp, but a staff member assigned to provide assistance as needed for individuals with mobility issues to comfortably get into the building will get the job done for now. A smiling face and a willingness to cheerfully go the extra mile with a patron who needs help promotes good will. You may earn a loyal patron for life. If profits are better next year, perhaps you can revisit the idea of a ramp at that time.
  • Provide a valet service No designated handicapped parking? No problem. Valet service is a great way to address this issue until you are able to create a lot with designated parking!
  • Provide a 10 minute in-service for staff about appropriate interactions with individuals with disabilities. Your employees may not have experience with people with disabilities, and their attitude may not come across as positive when dealing with this population. Role play situations to increase their comfort level. For example, discuss what to do if a person with a disability comes in to the business. Instead of awkwardly saying nothing, ask “Have you been helped yet?”. Talk about how people consider a cane, walker or wheelchair to be an extension of themselves, so not to touch these items without permission.Finally, emphasize the importance of speaking directly to the individual with the impairment and not only to the companion.Small attitude adjustments are tremendously important in the treatment of people with disablilites.
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    UberWAV – Uber and Ambulatory Disabilities

    Uber is sensitive to the needs of riders with ambulatory disabilities. They’re using technology to make transportation more accessible and reliable for riders.

    The innovative company is currently piloting several models in various cities across the country to determine which wheelchair accessible vehicle options best meet the needs of  riders and driver-partners. These pilots range from making their technology available to wheelchair accessible taxis to providing wheelchair accessible options through partnerships with commercial providers (e.g. in New York, Houston, Chicago, London, Portland).

    By launching uberWAV, Uber offers people requiring wheelchair accessible vehicles the opportunity to request an on-demand ride with the touch of a button. Way to go, Uber!


    resource:    1/12/17 read more