Our 2022 PSA campaign aims to inspire people to take actions that support inclusivity of people with disabilities of all ethnicities, ages and socio-economic status as they live, learn, work and play in our shared communities.
Appearing in an English-language PSA that debuted in April is actress and disability activist Nicole Evans—who has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a rare bone condition that necessitates her using a wheelchair—who also directed the Spanish-language version of the ad. Evans, an Easterseals Disability Film Challenge winner, has won three Best Supporting Actress awards in festival competition for her performance in the feature film Broken Dreams, had a recurring role on the hit TV series Superstore and has appeared in such other popular shows as Modern Family.
A new, Spanish-language ad released Aug. 15 features model/actor Danny Gomez—who was paralyzed from the waist down in a 2016 mountain bike accident that nearly killed him—best known for roles in such hit shows as New Amsterdam and All Rise. Winner of an international model search with more than 700 applicants, he has appeared in ads for such top brands as Target, Facebook and Zappos, is an Easterseals Disability Film Challenge winner and was awarded the Christopher Reeves Acting Scholarship in 2020.
The ad campaign, in both English and Spanish, appears on the CNN app, Hulu and on other online locations. It also appears on billboards and transit shelter posters in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. The campaign will run through the end of this year.
Disability in Pop Culture: Contestants with Disabilities Overcome Physical, Mental, and Endurance Barriers on CBS’ Survivor
Thursday, November 17, 2022, 2:59 PM
Take a look at how Survivor has made it their mission to create a more inclusive environment for con…
The popular and Emmy Award-winning reality competition series Survivor has dominated television for more than two decades, entertaining viewers and raising their adrenaline while watching 18 castaway contestants–with-and-without disabilities–attempt to outwit, outplay and outlast each other in isolated locations around the world. As the entertainment industry moves toward becoming more inclusive for people with disabilities, we’re excited to take a look at how Survivor has made it their mission to create a more inclusive environment for contestants with disabilities.
Over the course of 43 seasons, there have been 644 contestants on Survivor. So far, the franchise has cast 10 contestants with self-disclosed disabilities who have overcome physically and mentally taxing challenges.
Being a contestant with a disability on Survivor is not an easy feat. Their fellow tribe members’ knowledge of their disability may create uncertainty about their ability to contribute and add value to the challenges. This adds another layer of difficulty for the contestants with disabilities, as they must work even harder to prove their worth to the tribe.
The Survivor Wiki lists several contestants with disabilities, including Christy Smith, the first deaf contestant, Leif Mason, the first and only contestant with dwarfism, and Drea Wheeler, the first legally blind contestant. Their resolve and determination demonstrate that not even a remote and isolated area with few basic human necessities will deter individuals with the drive to compete and conquer.
A prime example is Christy Smith from season six of ‘Survivor: The Amazon.’ Christy was met with mixed reactions from her tribe when they found out she was deaf. Despite communication barriers, she made it to the final six! Before her elimination, she gained power as a swing vote; fearful of her power, the tribe turned against Christy and successfully voted her out. Similarly, season 41’s Ricard Foyé, the second hearing-impaired contestant in the franchise, won the most immunity challenges in his season and made it to the final five.
This year’s cast features Noelle Lambert, a 25-year-old from New Hampshire who competed for the U.S. Track & Field team at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo and set a new American record in the 100-meter dash. Noelle is the third amputee to compete in Survivor, following in the footsteps of season nine’s Chad Crittenden and Kelly Bruno from season 21.
Additionally, this season features contestant Ryan Medrano, who is a 25-year-old personal trainer and the first contestant with cerebral palsy.
Survivor has had multiple men and women with disabilities on the show, but former contestants have spoken out about a lack of diversity and inclusion, which led to CBS launching a series of initiatives aimed at creating more diversity on the show. These included a pledge that at least 50 percent of future casts will be Black, indigenous, and people of color, and host Jeff Probst modifying his classic catchphrase from, “come on in, guys!” to “come on in!”
With the implementation of these new diversity initiatives, it looks like Survivor will continue to include more castaways with disabilities to outwit, outlast, and outplay towards becoming the ‘Sole Survivor.’
Beginning in January 2023, the Bob Hope Veterans Support Program will transition its name to Veteran…
Since its inception in 2013, Easterseals Bob Hope Veterans Support Program has served more than 2,400 veterans and their families, with more than half of those attaining meaningful employment.
Beginning in January 2023, the Bob Hope Veterans Support Program will transition its name to Veterans Employment & Transition Services, or VETS. It has been a privilege and an honor to represent the legacy of Bob Hope and the financial commitment of the Bob and Dolores Hope Foundation for the past 10 years.
Veterans and our community partners can expect the same great service from the same great team of staff, and as always, our mission is to assist post-9/11 veterans to attain meaningful employment.
We look forward to hearing even more veterans say, “The Easterseals program is the reason why I’m working where I am now.”
VETS provides employment services for Southern California Veterans.
About Our Veterans Services
VETS will continue to provide one-on-one employment services, as well as referrals to other resources, to meet the unique needs of military personnel and veterans transitioning out of the military into a civilian job or starting their own small business.
Built off of the success of Easterseals’ WorkFirst customized employment services model, the objective is to help veterans and their family members successfully return back into communities and pursue healthy, productive lives. This service will also continue to be provided to spouses/registered domestic partners of veterans.
Check out our stories of success featuring veterans who have found meaningful employment with the help of Easterseals.
Watch Now: Army Veteran Jonathan Transitions to Civilian Employment
Navy Veteran Shares How Easterseals Helped Him Find Purpose
Monday, October 24, 2022, 12:53 PM
Navy Veteran Anderson found a new career thanks to the Easterseals Bob Hope Veterans Support Program…
After serving in the military for 20 years, Navy Veteran Anderson learned countless transferable skills, but there’s one thing the military did not teach him: how to get a job as a civilian.
Anderson was a logistics specialist in the Navy.
When Anderson retired from the Navy in 2021, fellow Veterans warned him how difficult it would be to find a job, but he wasn’t too concerned, especially with his years of military experience as a logistics specialist on multiple deployments.
“Once I got out of the military, it was a shock,” laughed Anderson. “My biggest issue was how to translate my skills and what I gained in my military career to a civilian life. That’s where Easterseals came in.”
“They didn’t give me that one-on-one support,” said Anderson. “But at Easterseals, my amazing (ESSC) coach Cynthia Marinaccio really gave me that one-one-one I needed to translate my skills to civilian terms and sat down with me on many occasions to do practice interviews so I could learn how to sell myself as an employee. The Easterseals program is the reason why I’m working where I am now.”
Anderson served in the Navy for 20 years.
Thanks to the help from Easterseals SoCal, Anderson is now happily employed at the Veterans Administration in La Jolla, CA as a supervisor in Environmental Management Services.
“It was an absolute pleasure to assist Anderson in his transition,” said Cynthia Marinaccio, ESSC Employment Specialist. “He took the guidance I provided him and thrived to the best of his ability. I knew he would be an amazing employee no matter where his next opportunity would be.”
Anderson is grateful he was referred to Easterseals by his Veteran friends, and he has in-turn continued to tell other Veterans about the support he received at Easterseals.
“We think we’re ready once we retire from the military, but regardless of the skills we have, we’re not,” said Anderson. “I know for a fact, Easterseals is one place that can prepare Veterans to face this new reality.”
Anderson was the Veteran honoree during a CVS Pharmacy check presentation to Easterseals’ Bob Hope Veterans Support Program at a fall 2022 San Diego Padres game.
Severe Behavior Services Program Presented With $1 Million Secured From Assemblymember Steven S. Choi, Ph.D signing of AB 179
Friday, October 21, 2022, 8:04 PM
One-of-a-Kind program on West Coast offers help and hope to Families. Looks to double the size of th…
On Tuesday, Oct. 11 California Assemblymember Steven Choi, Ph.D. (68th District) visited the Irvine Therapy and Disability Service Center for a check presentation of $1 million for ESSC’s Severe Behavior Services. Assemblymember Choi had introduced Assembly Bill 179 that secured the funding. The presentation kicked off a $6-7 million fundraising effort with the goal of doubling the size of the program at a new Orange County facility.
L-R: Mark Whitley, president & CEO, Easterseals Southern California (ESSC); Dr. Joyce C. Tu, Ed.D., BCBA-D, VP, Clinical Transformation, Autism Services, ESSC; California Assemblymember, Dr. Steven S. Choi, Ph.D., 68th Assembly District; Dr. Paula Pompa-Craven, PsyD, Chief Clinical Officer, ESSC; and Carrie O’Malley, District Director, Office of Assemblyman Steven Choi.
L-R: Nancy Weintraub, Chief Development Officer, Easterseals Southern California (ESSC); Carrie O’Malley, District Director, Office of Assemblyman Steven Choi; Dr. Shaji Haq, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Clinical Director, Autism Services, ESSC; Mark Whitley, president & CEO, ESSC; California Assemblymember, Dr. Steven S. Choi, Ph.D., 68th Assembly District; Beverlyn Mendez, Chief Operating Officer, ESSC; Dr. Paula Pompa-Craven, PsyD, Chief Clinical Officer, ESSC; and Dr. Joyce C. Tu, Ed.D., BCBA-D, VP, Clinical Transformation, Autism Services, ESSC. , pose with million dollar check in front of Easterseals building
The History of Employment Awareness for People with Disabilities
Thursday, October 13, 2022, 6:25 PM
Recognizing National Disability Employment Awareness Month
The post The History of Employment Awaren…
As we recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), it’s worth noting that the disability rights movement, and the Easterseals organization, began with the objective of improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
A disabled German ex-serviceman working as a carpenter with the aid of a prosthetic arm, Germany, circa 1919. (Photo by FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A Little History
In 1918, Congress passed laws creating a rehabilitation program for World War I soldiers with a disability. Providing support for people with disabilities became more widespread, and it was in this environment that the Ohio Society for Crippled Children, which would eventually become Easterseals, was founded one year later. Disabled World War II veterans once again raised public awareness around the movement, and in 1945, Congress enacted Public Law 176, establishing what we know today as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
George H. W. Bush signing the Americans with Disabilities Act into law in 1990
The disability rights movement achieved a major victory when President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law in 1990. While this has led to increasing opportunities for people with disabilities, studies show that there’s a lot more that must be done.
Disability Employment Today
According to this report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 60 million people in the U.S. have a disability. These Americans face various employment-related challenges such as being passed over for jobs they’re qualified for, making a career transition due to disability, and/or wage discrimination.