Portrait of the Whole Person: Biographies and Paintings, November 2015

Paintings and Biographies

Presented by Bertschi School in Partnership with
Disability Rights Washington

November 16 to December 14, 2015

At Montlake Public Library
2401 24th Avenue E, Seattle, WA 98112

painted portrait of Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo painted by Tanvi

Bertschi School, in partnership with Disability Rights Washington, presents PORTRAIT OF THE WHOLE PERSON to celebrate disability history and culture.

Through the art show, we hope to heighten awareness of the disability rights movement and culture with the broader community.

Disability Rights Washington, a private non-profit organization protecting the rights of people with disabilities in Washington State, developed the concept and curriculum, taught disability history and culture to the students, and facilitated the art. Bertschi Fourth Grade teachers, Caitlin Bunnell and Robin Cheyney, and Dustin Groshong, assistant teacher, guided the students in researching and creating biographies about individuals with disabilities, both historic and current. Maria Grade, the Bertschi School art teacher, instructed each child on portraiture and facilitated the presentation of the show.

The Portrait of the Whole Person project provides an integrated approach to teaching youth to: perceive disability as a reflection of societal views of differences; treat people with disabilities with respect and dignity; and understand how disability rights fit into the broader civil rights movement. Additionally, this project contains an anti-bullying and self-confidence component.

Washington recognizes the importance of educating youth about disability history through its enactment of a state law establishing October as Disability History Awareness Month. This Act requires each public school to conduct or promote educational activities that provide instruction, awareness, and understanding of disability history and people with disabilities. By educating youth, we can ameliorate negative stereotypes and perceptions that can easily lead to exclusion, bullying, low-self esteem, and discrimination. Perceptions of disability should include concepts of dignity, liberty, autonomy, and strength instead of fear, pity, weakness and paternalism or maternalism.

For more information about this project, please contact Disability Rights Washington at 206-324-1521 ext. 206.

Please enjoy the show!


addisonSusan Boyle by Addison

Susan Boyle is a Scottish singer who shot to fame when she sang in Britons got talent singing I dream a dream. On November 2009 she released her fist album which according to the charts was the bestselling album. Susan Boyle has a mezzo-soprano voice that means half soprano. Then in 2013 she received 2 Grammy awards.

Susan has a disability called Asperger’s witch the public found out a year ago. When Susan Boyle was a kid people claimed she had brain damage witch Susan claims is the wrong label to be called. Her “brain damage” led to being bullied for several years at school for being “different”. Since being diagnosed with Asperger’s Susan feels more relaxed for now she has a clear explanation of what’s wrong. I would say I have relationship difficulties and communication difficulties witch lead to lots of frustration if only people could be a bit more patient it would really help she told the newspaper.

Despite being bullied because of her differences Susan looks past it showing courage and perseverance. Courage for being bullied all those years but looking past it and perseverance by not being pushed back because of her disability.

Susan Boyle is a remodel to me because even though she was doubted by her look by the judges at Britons got talent she persevered and showed everyone that she was a fabulous singer.


painted portrait of Tim HowardTim Howard by Amelia

The cheering fans went silent in my head. I got in my ready stance. I put my hands out; I bent my knees just a little bit. It was down to just the attacker and me. It was a tense penalty kick. I put all of my focus on the ball. “Dive left, you can do it. You are one of the best goalies ever.” I said in my head. The attacker backed up and swung his leg back and slammed the ball. I dove to the left. I felt a lump in my hand. All the fans cheered louder than ever. I had done it, blocked a penalty kick!

That is Tim Howard, the goalie for Everton, England and the USA National Team. He was born on March 6, 1979 in North Brunswick Township, NJ. He is #24 for Everton and #1 for USA. He has Tourette’s syndrome and OCD. Tourette’s Syndrome is where you have to make a noise or do a movement and you can’t control yourself from doing it. OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder is where you have to do something or touch someone in a specific way or order. He started developing Tourette’s syndrome when he was ten. He would walk through the house and tapped certain things. He has two kids with his former wife Laura Howard. His kid’s names are Alivia his daughter and Jacob his son. Jacob loves to mimic his father’s moves, which Tim loves. Alivia plays forward. When Tim is not playing soccer he lives in Memphis, TN.

Tim shows the virtue of perseverance because he is focused on being a good goalie not on his Tourette’s syndrome or OCD. It is like he doesn’t even have a disability, because he is not stopped by it or he doesn’t show it. He actually uses his keen focus to help him become a better soccer player. It also might be hard because if he says something he doesn’t mean to say to someone, people might think he’s mean or weird. You should never think of someone with a disability as weird, you should think of him/her as a regular person, because they are a regular person; they just have something a little bit different about them, like you or me. That’s what makes them unique and special.

Tim Howard inspires me to think more about how people feel when they have a disability and how much they are the similar to us.


painted portrait of Theodore Roosevelt with US flag in background

Theodore Roosevelt by Anders W.

The blinding spotlight illuminated the podium, the excited crowd clapped and cheered as Teddy Roosevelt strode up onto the stage… “I hope I don’t have an epileptic fit while I’m talking,” he thought.

Teddy Roosevelt had epilepsy, a brain disability where you would experience fits caused by surges of electricity. He was also blind in one eye. But having a disability didn’t stop Teddy Roosevelt from becoming the amazing 26th President of the United States. He became President when the previous President, William McKinley, was assassinated.

I think Teddy Roosevelt was a great president. Before he was elected, he wanted to be president so much; he didn’t even give up his hopes of becoming one when his loving mother and wife both died on the same day! If he had given up, the handy dandy Panama Canal might not have been constructed. If you wanted to go to Australia by boat from the east coast of the United States, you would have to journey all the way around the bottom of South America to get there!

I think that everyone should use Teddy Roosevelt as an example to show that everyone with a disability should be treated the same way as people without a disability. I think it is awesome that he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Overall, I think that he was an amazing person, disability or not.


painted portrait of Mordecai BrownMordecai Brown by Aniket

Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown, (October 19, 1876- February 14, 1948) nicknamed “ Three Finger Brown” or “Miner” was an MLB pitcher during the first two decades of the 20th century. He grew up on a farm in Nyesville, Indiana.

Mordecai Brown’s disability was with him after a farming accident caused him to lose two fingers to a corn shredder. What I found amazing about him is that he uses this to his advantage, because he had to learn a different way of holding the ball, which resulted in an exceptional curve/fast ball. Before and after the accident he would throw rocks at the side of the barn. This shows he has been pitching since he was a boy.

He has shown perseverance because despite of being “Three finger Brown” he was a better pitcher than most MLB pitchers because of practice and not giving up. We can tame his disability by reminding our selves that he used this to his advantage.

Mordecai Brown inspires me to be a better baseball player. He was elected in to the hall of fame one year after he died. This guy has changed my thinking because he made me look at people with disabilities differently. For example, I used to think a person with a disability wouldn’t be able to make the hall of fame, but now I’ve realized its possible.


painted portrait of Adam LevineAll about Adam Levine by Asher

Adam Levine is the lead singer for Maroon Five. He was born in Los Angeles California. Adam has won 3 Grammy awards and been nominated 4 times for Grammy awards. Out of all the awards he has won he has won 82 awards and been nominated 127 times. Adam Levin’s wife is Behati Prinsloo.

Adam was born with ADHD, ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder it is hard for him to sit still and focus if you have ADHD then you are suppose to have more energy then regular people.

Adam showed perseverance because he kept his ADHD controlled I didn’t even know he had a disability I look at him as crazy awesome singer instead of a disabled person.

In conclusion Adam Levine shows me to perverse because he works so hard to overcome challenges. He has inspired me because he was so successful and he has ADHD I think that is amazing to be able to do that.


painted portrait of Jackie Joyner-KerseeJackie Joyner-Kersee by Ava Sc.

Did you know that Jackie Joyner-Kersee won three gold, one silver, and two bronze medals? She was a basketball player in college for four years. She is one of the greatest female athletes. Sports Illustrated for women voted her the greatest female athlete of the twentieth century.

Most people don’t know that actually Jackie Joyner-Kersee has a disability, asthma. She found out that she had asthma when she was only 18, and she tried to hide it. Also, she went to hospital a few times because of her asthma. She almost died with asthma in 1993, so she said that it was like a pillow on her mouth and as hard as she tried to breathe she could not breathe. Asthma is a breathing problem, and it was hard for her to practice for the races.

I think that she is kind and joyful and enthusiastic and she is always tying her hardest in all she does. After she retired, Jackie Joyner-Kersee set out on a mission to help kids. She started at a youth center in her hometown to help underprivileged kids. Also she worked with other athletes to make positive changes in the world.

She inspires me because I want to be a great track and field player. Also she spent her time and money on kids to help them have opportunities to play sports.


painted portrait of Walt DisneyWalt Disney by Ava So.

Boom! Crank! That is the sound of Walt Disney building Disney Land Flash! Flash! Three, two one action! Walt Disney was an American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice, actor and animator. Walt Disney was also the cartoon artist of comic books and newspaper comic strips. He was also the creator of Disney Land. Disney Land has been around for 60 years! It wasn’t always easy for Walt Disney.

Many people think that Walt Disney suffered in school because he had dyslexia. Dyslexia has to do with your eyes when you read. In 1918 Walt Disney dropped out of high to join the army, but he was too young, so he joined the Red Cross. When he came back from France in 1919, he tried to make a career as an artist. Walt Disney started a company, but his small company went bankrupt, so he moved to Hollywood with a suitcase and twenty dollars.

People should treat everyone the same even if they have a disability. Walt Disney is the same as someone who does not have a disability. He is kind and he became famous. People who don’t have a disability can be kind and if they work hard they can become famous someday too just like Walt Disney. If you are walking around and you see a person who has a disability be kind to them, treat them as you do everyone. Sometimes you don’t now if someone has a disability. Walt Disney has dyslexia and if someone sees him they wouldn’t know if he had a disability or not.

Walt Disney inspired me because he is famous and good at a lot of things. He invented Disney Land! How cool is that! Walt Disney had the idea of Mickey Mouse, which is a show on the Disney channel. Walt Disney did many things. It is amazing how he didn’t give up. I think that Walt Disney is an incredible person.


painted portrait of Wilma RudolphWilma Rudolph by Charlotte

Go! Go! Go! Wilma Rudolph is running down the track. She blasted through the red ribbon like a lightning bolt. She finished the race and she won. Wilma Rudolph is an outstanding person she inspires me a lot. Wilma was the first American and youngest girl runner to win three shinning gold metals in the Olympics.

Wilma Rudolph was born on June 23, 1940 in Bethlehem, Tennessee. She was born early and only weighed 4.5 pounds.

The first minute she was born, she had a horrible disease, polio (then she developed pneumonia). Polio is a deadly disease that is very contagious. Wilma had polio in her legs. When Wilma was about three the doctor told her she might never walk again, but by the age of twelve she was running faster than a cheetah. I think that polio would probably affect her interest in running because her legs hurt.

Wilma showed perseverance when she had polio because she overcame her disease. She knew if she kept training she would be able to walk again. I think Wilma Rudolph is the same as any one else, except she proved she could do whatever she made her mind up to do. It probably was hard for her in the 1950s, because she was an African American and she was poor. So she didn’t have a lot of money to go to the doctor or get food.

Wilma Rudolph is very inspiring because she knew she wanted to be a runner and she became an outstanding racer. I was a little sad when she decided to be a teacher, because I think she should have still been a runner. Overall, I loved learning about Wilma Rudolph because she is really fascinating. The reason I wanted to learn about Wilma is because I wanted to learn more about running.


Painted portrait of Jean DriscollJean Driscoll by Cooper

Jean Driscoll is an amazing athlete. She won two Olympic gold medals and 12 Paralympic medals: 5 gold, 3 silver, and 4 bronze. She has broken many world records. Jean Driscoll has won every race but one. When she was in elementary school she started to use a wheelchair, because she had spinal bifida, which is an open spine.

Jean Driscoll was born with spinal bifida. Her disability is her greatest success, because it led her into wheelchair racing and many Paralympic medals. One of her many world records is the fastest racer in Boston. One of her races is the 4 by 100 relay race, that’s where they go 100 meters and pass a baton to the next person. Her favorite race was the only race she had in her hometown.

Jean Driscoll started teaching people wheelchair racing in Ghana. This experience changed her life. She thought they would all come in on wheelchairs, but some came on wheelchairs, some limping, and some were wearing sandals on their hands and crawling on the ground. In my opinion we should treat people with disabilities better. We should try to see their passion. Jean Driscoll persevered by helping people, showing courage, racing and never giving up.

Jean Driscoll inspired me to never give up on something no matter how hard it is. My thinking has changed a lot like remembering not to stare, and looking beyond the disability to see the whole person.


painted portrait of Hans Christian AndersenThe Amazing Hans Christian Anderson by Dominic

In the old days, when people drove carriages and read books by famous authors, before disabilities were diagnosed, there was a writer named Hans Christian Anderson. Hans Christian Anderson may or may not have had a non-verbal learning disability. Some sources believe he did. Investigators have looked in letters Hans wrote to close relatives. There were many spelling errors and mistakes but no one knows if it was a sign of a disability or not.

Born in Odense, Denmark, Hans Christian Andersen was an amazing writer. The start of Andersen’s fame was in 1829 when he published a book called, A Journey on Foot From Holmen’s Canal to The East Point of Amager. It was a big success and then the people of Denmark started noticing him as a writer.

Some of Hans Christian Andersen’s most famous books were the Ugly Duckling, which was an interesting story about a little bird that was bullied about many things. Then one day he changed into a beautiful swan and all the other birds were amazed. Another interesting story he wrote was called, Thumbelina. Thumbelina is an exciting children’s tale about a little girl who has an exciting adventure with a lot of cool animals.

Hans Christian Andersen was an interesting person to study about. He inspired me by not giving up at becoming a writer. Also when he couldn’t think of anything to write or no one was reading his books he kept trying and eventually succeeded. If he did have a disability it must have been very hard to write. Even if he didn’t have a disability, writing is a hard job, but Hans Christian Anderson did not give up!


painted portrait of Lionel MessiLionel Messi by Eleanor

Did you know that Messi is often considered the best soccer player in the world? He also holds many records. Lionel Messi is an amazing soccer player who plays for Barcelona. Messi plays forward for both Barcelona and the national team from Argentina.

You might have not known that Messi suffers from a disability but he does. He has a growth hormone that makes him not grow very well but he took a medicine that helps him grow. He was born with the disability on June 24th 1987 in Rosario Argentina. When he was 13 he moved to Barcelona, Spain to get the treatment that he needed. I think that his disability helps him succeed because smaller soccer players you can turn very easily.

I think that Messi has persevered because kept on playing soccer even though people laughed at him when he was a kid. I think that we can make it less of a disability by looking at him as a person first. He has made a positive change by being a role model for many soccer players all over the world.

Did you know that Messi has scored over 400 goals in his career? Messi was the only player in history to win the FIFA Bollon D’Or 4 times and the first ever player in history win 3 European Golden Shoes. With Barcelona Messi has won 7 la liga titles and 4 UEFA champion titles, as well as Copa Del Ray titles. Messi is the captain for both Argentina and Barcelona. Messi became the youngest Argentine to score a goal in the FIFA World Cup during the 2006 edition.

Messi inspires me to be a better soccer player. I think that my thinking has changed because it made me look at people with disabilities differently. For example people with disabilities are capable of achieving big accomplishments.


painted portrait of Agatha ChristieThe Struggle for Agatha Christie by Ella

My name is Ella, and I have a disability called dysgraphia. That means I have trouble spelling and recognizing words, so it would be very difficult to be an author I thought, until I found out about Agatha Christie. She was a very clever woman who changed my perspective on this topic.

The day was September 15,1890 when Agatha Christie, soon to be one of the best authors in the world, was born. Agatha Christie was born with dysgraphia, but the world found out after she died. She is famous for her mystery books. She sold over four billion books. In 2013, seven billion people on earth were counted. That means almost half the world has read her books! You may have heard of a famous romance author named Mary Westmacott. Well that was Agatha Christie under a penname. Agatha Christie dealt with her disability very wisely. She hired a typist. That means she said from the very start to the very end of what she wanted the book to say and the typist typed it. That went very well for Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie inspires me and many others to be whatever we want, to keep going when times are rough, and to take on challenges, not toss them away. So the next time you see a book by Agatha Christie or Mary Westmacott, pick it up and read it! I know I will!


painted portrait of Chelsea McClammerChelsea McClammer by Flora

Chelsea McClammer is the daughter of Rebecca and Charles McClammer. Chelsea plays basketball, tennis and track. She was in a car accident at the age of six and that made her paralyzed. She was born in Richard, Washington in 1994 and she might have a dog.

Her dream is to move back to Seattle and work at Seattle Children’s Hospital and help kids like her. I think that it is a sweet dream because I think that it will make kids more comfortable. I like her dream it is very nice and I think she will follow it.

She won 5 GOLDS in wheelchair races!!!!!! I think that is impressive because not many people win golds. Nobody thinks that she would make it in a race but she did.

I think that she is a nice fun girl and that we should support her and be kind to her. I like her!!!!!!!!


painted portrait of Magic JohnsonMagic Johnson by Hudson M.

People thought that Magic Johnson would never be a good basketball player, but he turned out to be one of the seven best basketball players of all time, including being part of the Basketball Hall of Fame twice! Magic’s real name is Earvin Johnson Jr. He was born on August 14, 1959 in Lansing, Michigan, which would make him 56 years old right now. He comes from a big family of 9. He got his nickname “Magic” in high school when he scored 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 16 assists in one game!

Even though Magic has dyslexia and HIV he never let it stop him. He played for twelve years in the NBA before he found out he had HIV and retired because it was not good for him to work so hard. When he was younger it was hard for him to learn to read because he had dyslexia. He went to summer school and after one day the school security guard said to him, “You will never amount to anything.” He used that as motivation to prove him and everybody wrong that he could be successful.

After Magic retired he became an author, real estate agent, and he was the founder for the Magic Johnson Foundation. The Magic Johnson Foundation helps people with HIV and goes to schools and they talk to the school and teach them about HIV and that people with HIV deserve the have the same respect as every one else.

Finally Magic Johnson inspires me to take what people say that’s mean and use it to motivate you. Did you know that he has a star for the Hollywood hall of fame? Magic Johnson went through a bunch of hard things and he persevered through all of them.


painted portrait of Keira KnightlyKeira Knightly by Hudson H.

Did you know that Keira Knightly has starred in 34 movies? She was the second highest paid actor in Hollywood in 2006. She was born in Teddington, London on March 26, 1985. She has been an actor since she was 10.

Her disability is dyslexia; she was not born with it. She was diagnosed with dyslexia at age six. She said dyslexia did not affect her ability to read lines. She made a bet with her parents that if she could learn to read that her parents would hire an agent.

There are many ways that Keira Knightly has made positive changes on the world. She is a role model to people that live UK because she is a British actor. She was born in the suburbs of London and that shows that you don’t have to be surrounded by money to become famous.

To end it off, she inspires all people to become an actor and no matter your disability you can still become rich or famous. I think that Keira Knightly has shown a lot of determination and fought through dyslexia and become pretty famous


painted portrait of Bethany HamiltonBethany Hamilton by Isabelle

Lying on a board feeling nothing, being pulled back and forth, you look at the water, its red, your friends looking at you very worried. You hear the ambulance coming for help, you feel you’re friends tears.

Bethany Hamilton, was only thirteen years old when she was attacked by a fourteen-foot tiger shark off the north shore of Kauai. On her way to the hospital she lost sixty percent of her blood and was in hypovolemic shock, which means there isn’t enough blood for your heart to pump through you’re body. This disaster happened on October 31, 2003 around 7:30 a.m. She was surfing, just lying on her board with her left arm swaying in the water when it happened. The shark attacked and her left arm was bitten off. You would think she would never surf again. This accident was very horrible, but amazingly she is surfing with only one arm.

After a month of recovery, Bethany was determined to keep surfing, and she never gave up. She started competing again and continued following her dream, she won first place two times in 2005 in the United States. In 2009 she won second place in Australia. Bethany competed against people with two arms and still did a great job. She helped people in Thailand when there was a flood. She helped them not be afraid anymore.

Bethany Hamilton inspires me because even though she lost an arm, she never gave up. She helped other people and inspired other people too. Bethany Hamilton is a kind person, she never gave up her dream, and that’s what I love about her.


painted portrait of Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking by James

At age 21 Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He was told he would die in two years. Surprisingly, he is still alive to this day!

Stephen Hawking was born in 1942. A.L.S is when you are paralyzed and your brain isn’t functioning right. He was a physicist, astronomer, teacher and a scientist and more. Stephen Hawking used to be able to walk and play with his friends, but now he is in a wheelchair. He uses a computer to talk. Now all he has is his Mind.

If you had ALS, you wouldn’t be able to interact with other people as well, and you wouldn’t be able to do simple things like pick up a book or drive. People made Stephen Hawking devices that allow him to talk and move around. But things were still very hard in his life. He didn’t quit and he doesn’t let his disability take over his life. He has written a lot of books, including kid’s books, chapter books, and he’s been in TV shows. He even discovered black holes and figured out how they work. He has solved really hard math problems.

Stephen Hawking inspired me because he had a really difficult disorder, but he fought through his disability and survived. Even if someone has a disability it doesn’t mean that they can’t think like a person without a disability or be as smart as anyone else.


painted portrait of Itzahk PerlmanItzahk Perlman by Jeremy

Itzahk Perlman performed his first music piece at age ten! He was born in 1945 in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Itzahk wanted to play his melodious violin since he was 3 years old, so his dad bought him a violin for six dollars. I think that having polio would be hard, but it didn’t stop Itzahk Perlman from following his dreams. Even when he had polio he still practiced violin every day.

Itzahk’s legs are paralyzed from the polio, so he uses a wheelchair most of the time. Even though his legs are paralyzed he is one of the best violinists in the world!

I think that Itzahk showed perseverance because even though he had polio he kept following his dream to be a violinist. He even got to play at the White House, and that is a once in a lifetime opportunity! It is important that people treat each other the same. Once Itzahk Perlman was on a plane and the flight attendant ignored him and asked his wife if he had a wheelchair. Perlman later told a reporter from the Wall Street Journal, “This person did not talk to me because I was the problem. People think if you are in a chair, you have a problem digesting information.”

The reason I studied Itzahk Perlman was because I have always loved music, and the violin has always interested me. I think that he plays wonderful music. My mom has even been to one of his concerts.


painted portrait of Marlee MatlinMarlee Matlin by Kate

Actress Marlee Matlin won the Golden Globe award for her career on TV and the news. Marlee was born August 24, 1965, in Morton Grove, Illinois.

Marlee became deaf at 18 months old and lost all
hearing in her right ear and 80% in her left ear. It affects her career because she is an actress ad she can’t hear the instructions that the movie director tells her. Also, some people in plays have to hear a cue to come on stage, like something someone says.

I think she showed a lot of perseverance because she stayed in her job as an actress even though it was hard for her. There are some things we can do to help people who are deaf feel accepted. One thing that will make them feel equal is not calling them things like retarded, and instead call them by their names.

Marlee inspires me to keep going even if something seems impossible and you feel like giving up.


painted portrait of Alicia AlonsoAlicia Alonso by Makie

On December 21, 1921 a very famous person was born. She didn’t know it at the time but she would make a very positive change in the world. Her name was Alicia Alonso. She started dancing at the age of 7 or 8 and her first time preforming publicly was at the age of 10.

Unfortunately when she was only 19 she was diagnosed with detached retina. [When your retina gets detached from the rest of your eyeball and the eye gets all red and swollen.] She went too the doctors to fix it, and they told her that she had too have surgery to possibly heal it. So she had surgery. After the surgery she was forced to lie in her bed for 3 months. She was not allowed to do many things, not crying too hard, chewing food too hard, or playing with her daughter Laura, they were all unacceptable she also was not allowed to move her head at all. After 3 months past Alicia was allowed to move again she roamed the streets with her dogs. She soon went to her dance studios to practice even though the doctor had forbidden it. Just as her hopes were rising again… she was in her house when a tornado passed through, spraying glass all over her face. Things really couldn’t get worse, could they? Thankfully they got much better when she went to the doctors to see if anything was injured when the glass sprayed all over her face. Surprisingly nothing was badly damaged so the doctor cleared the way for her to begin dancing again.

Alicia traveled back to New York to begin dancing in 1943. Before she settled, out of the blue she was asked too dance as Giselle to replace the injured prima ballerina. She accepted. She gave such an amazing performance that critics immediately declared her a star. She played Giselle from 1943-1948. In 1948 she went to Cuba too develop a ballet company. It was called the Alicia Alonso ballet company. It was very successful.

So in conclusion Alicia Alonso is a great role model too many people dancers or not. She followed her dreams despite the challenges along the way, and she is especially a great role model to me. I am also a ballet dancer, and she taught me to persevere through any challenges.


painted portrait of Daniel RadcliffDaniel Radcliffe by Matty

Daniel Radcliffe is an amazing actor now revealing he struggles with dyspraxia. Daniel was born in Felltham United Kingdom 23rd of July 1989.

Daniel Radcliff reveals that he has the disability dyspraxia. Dyspraxia is a thing where people have trouble with movement coordination, judgment processing memory, and the body’s immune nervous systems. Dyspraxia affects what you are doing in everyday life.

Daniel has been through some hard times but he has still powered through. He still has a hard time tying his shoelace. Daniel has been in many movies despite his disability, like Harry Potter! For years, he has been in the film production industry. Harry Potter is one of his most popular movies. I have watched all of them! And I don’t know how he gets through all that activity and action. I know I couldn’t do it in a million years!

This person is inspiring to me because he never gives up and always seems so real in the movies. When I learned what dyspraxia was I didn’t get how he could do that. Now I know that his perseverance got him through all of the movies that he made and everything he went through.


painted portrait of Stevie WonderStevie Wonder by Max

Did you know that Stevie Wonder was born May 13, 1950, as Stevland Hardaway Judkins? He is the third of six kids. Wonder is a songwriter and musician, he plays piano, harmonica, and drums. Some of his songs that you may know are called “I Just Called to Say I Love You”, “Sir Duke”, and “Isn’t She Lovely?”

Wonder is blind. He was born in Motown and he became blind from stunted growth of blood vessels in the back of his eyes which made his retinas detach. And so as a baby, he was blind. He pushes his blind eyes back to make great music.

Stevie Wonder showed lots of perseverance because he is blind and he makes great music. He made people know that people that are blind are still capable of many things and there are so many things that blind people can do.

Stevie Wonder inspired me by showing that people who are blind can still accomplish things that other people do. In fact, I’ve heard that most people that are blind have better hearing and smelling than people without. This might be one of the things that made Stevie Wonder such a great musician. He shows lots of perseverance, respect, responsibility, and friendliness.


Painted portrait of Derrick ColemanDerrick Coleman by Meg

Derrick Coleman is a unique football player, he was born on October 18th in Los Angeles California. He went to UCLA collage and he went to Fullerton (CA) Troy high school.

Derrick is the only Seahawks player who is deaf. In fact, there are only three deaf players in league history, and the he is the first to play offense. When it gets loud he feels like he has an advantage, he can tune the noise out. Quarterbacks know to look at him and he will read the QB’s lips and he is good to go.

I think he inspired kids with disabilities so that they know that they can become amazing athletes. When he was little he was teased about his hearing, he showed perseverance by ignoring them and kept going.

He inspires me because now I know that enyone can become an amazing athlete or person.


painted portrait of Helen KellerHelen Keller by Myra

She was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. At 18 months she was struck with brain fever leaving her blind, deaf and mute.

Helen Adams Keller was born with full sight and hearing. She started to walk at the age of one. The true nature of her illness is still a mystery, but some doctors thought that it was scarlet fever. She spent her life trying to help kids. This is a quote from her about how she was struggling to learn new words and how her first one triggered more and more words. “The mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that ‘w-a-t-e-r’ meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!”

Helen Keller went to Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston, Massachusetts. Then she met Anne Sullivan. They started a 49-year relationship. Anne and Helen became life long friends. Helen Keller became the first deaf-blind person to graduate from college. Another quote from Helen Keller is, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you can not see the shadow.” She showed perseverance, dedication and intelligence as she went through a bunch of challenges. Helen Keller died in her sleep a few weeks away from her 88 Birthday.

Helen Keller taught me that even if you can’t see or hear, you could still achieve great things and follow your dreams. Helen Keller made a HUGE difference by changing the world’s way of thinking about people with disabilities. Helen Keller inspired me to think about how many people have brain fever? And how many schools for the blind are there?


painted portrait of Curt MarshCurt Marsh by Nathan

Curt Marsh was pushing the defenders down to the ground, not letting anyone past him, giving the quarterback time, lots of time. The quarterback throws the ball deep…touchdown! The Raiders win the Super Bowl. There is a flag on the play. The medics are helping a player off the field, and I think it is Curt Marsh.

That injury eventually ended Curt Marsh’s career in football. He was born in Tacoma, Washington on August 25, 1959. The ankle injury, he got while playing for the Raiders, got worse and worse. Finally after many operations his foot was cut off eight inches below the knee. He got a prosthetic leg after he quit football. When he got his prosthetic leg it helped him win a gold medal in weight lifting. That’s right he did weight lifting even with a prosthetic leg.  Curt Marsh realized he was worrying too much about how he looked. Weight lifting pulled him out of the dumps.

Curt Marsh persevered through all the surgeries and pain he had in his life. He had 30 surgeries; hips, right arm, right leg, and other body parts were operated on. After he started weight lifting, he jumped back onto his feet and started being active in other ways too. He went around talking to high schools about drugs and other problems. He is a motivational speaker and helps troubled youth. He wears his Super Bowl ring most everywhere he goes, even to restaurants.

Curt Marsh inspired me to never give up no matter how much my legs hurt (swimming for me).  If you have an injury while playing a sport, you should try to get back into that sport if you can. I have also learned to be proud of my accomplishments. I also learned to never stop dreaming. If someone says you can’t do something, don’t listen to him or her and try harder.  Try as hard as you can, and if you accomplish your dream, tell them that they were wrong.


painted portrait of Lionel MessiLionel Messi by Peter

He goes left, and then he goes right and shoots and scores. Lionel Messi scored the game-winning goal. The fans go wild! What a shot by Lionel Messi. Messi is the top scorer in the world, and he started playing in 2004 in Spain. He is strong and can use his strength to get past players. He is 5 foot 7 inches tall. He plays for Barcelona.

Messi was born with a growth disorder in Argentina, and he needed expensive medicine to grow. His parents wanted to help Messi, but they could not afford the medicine. Messi was called “the flea” because he was little and fast like a shadow. His family moved to Barcelona when he was 11, and he got he got his medicine paid for by his new team. If he had not had a problem growing, then he would have not gotten on Barcelona. If he did not play soccer, he would have no medicine. He would probably not be growing. With the help of the team, he was the youngest person to score for Barcelona when he was 17 years old in 2004.

Even when Messi was little, he always tried his best. Now he is the highest paid soccer player in the world. I think that every one should be treated the same. Disabilities can make people better at what they do. It must have been hard for Messi to leave his home when he was 11 years old. He is close to Ronaldo for best soccer player in the world.

I play soccer too, but I don’t play the same position as him. I play mid and defender. Messi plays forward and sometimes I imitate Messi when I score.


painted portrait of David BeckhamDavid Beckham by Quinn

Hi, I’m here to talk about the great soccer player named David Beckham and his ability to bend the soccer ball! David Beckham is known for his great soccer skills. You might not know but David Beckham also has OCD.

OCD is a brain condition that makes you repeat stuff again and again. It must be pretty hard to have OCD. One thing people might not know is that David Beckham gives his time during his busy days to help others. He works for free with UNICEF to help feed the poor kids around the world. Some people might think that soccer is his most important thing, but David Beckham says that working with UNICEF is his “number one priority”.

David Beckham changed the history of soccer! He is one of the best soccer players in the world! So lets all try to think of him as a person first instead of a man with a disability. And we can learn about other people with disabilities and how amazing they actually are. So people with a disability can be very amazing and change the world like David Beckham did as an amazing man would! And he really inspired me. It might be hard to have teammates that might disapprove of playing with someone with a disability. But they should not. David Beckham is an amazing man that changed the world and no one should doubt him.


painted portrait of Ginny RuffnerGinny Ruffner by Rosy

Did you know that Ginny Ruffner is a glass artist? Ginny Ruffner is a famous artist that has had 40 of her very own solo shows! She also has had a couple hundred group shows! That’s amazing. She even was on the NPR show, Weekend America!

Ginny Ruffner was in a coma for 5 weeks, in the hospital for five months and in a wheelchair for five years. Her doctors thought she would never walk or talk again. But she did! She got in that coma because she was in a car crash that almost killed her! So she was not born with her disability.

Ginny Ruffner is an artist. She was in a wheelchair for five whole years! I think we can help people using wheelchairs by making buildings wheelchair accessible. I think we can achieve that by putting in elevators into buildings that have stairs. We can also make taking walks easier by making wheelchair ramps on the curbs.

In conclusion, I think that Ginny Ruffner is a very inspiring person.


painted portrait of Franklin D. RooseveltThe Amazing Life of Franklin D. Roosevelt by Sadie

From his amazing birth to his dreadful death Franklin D. Roosevelt was a very extraordinary man. He was born in Hyde Park, New York 1882. He was our 32nd president. On St Patricks’ Day March 17, 1905 he married Eleanor Roosevelt. Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt gave birth to six kids now that’s a lot.

On January 30, 1882 in New York, he was struck with polio. Polio affects leg muscles, so that means he could not walk. When he was president he was in a wheelchair, but he still inspired people because they kept voting for him.

He led the U.S.A. through World War II. In 1896 he attended Groton School for boys in Massachusetts. After graduating from Gorton in 1900 he entered Harvard University. He was only eighteen when his father died. President Roosevelt died when he was 63.

Roosevelt inspired me because I did not know so much about polio. I thought I would like learning about that kind of stuff. Roosevelt changed my thinking. Now I’m thinking more about how people with disability’s feel and how I can make them feel better and not feel sad that they have a disability.

I think Roosevelt showed perseverance because even though he had polio he still kept trying and I think he was the best man who ever lived.


painted portrait of Muhammad AliMuhammad Ali by Sayka

“Knockout!“ That’s what the referee shouted when Muhammad Ali knocked out his opponent. The crowd screams and chants, “Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Ali.” He was one of the greatest heavyweights in sports history. Muhammad Ali became a boxer when somebody stole his bike when he was a kid. When he told a police officer about the bike getting stolen, the officer talked him into boxing to let off steam.

Muhammad Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was 42 years old. Parkinson’s Disease is when your nervous system gets messed up in your brain. People have different theories about how he got Parkinson’s disease; blows to the head may have caused it during boxing matches. Muhammad Ali’s original name was Cassius Marcellus Clay Junior. Muhammad Ali got his name changed because a prophet’s last name was Muhammad. He changed his religion to Islam so that’s when Muhammad changed his name. Muhammad Ali was born on January 17, 1942. Because he converted to Islam, he wouldn’t fight in the Vietnam War. He got sent to prison for this and got stripped of his belts. He also couldn’t box for three whole years.

In 1971 the Supreme Court reversed his draft-evasion conviction, and he got back his titles. Muhammad Ali was successful because he was a dedicated athlete. He still is successful, because he does a lot to raise money for Parkinson’s disease research. Muhammad Ali showed perseverance because even though he has a disability, he rose above his disability. Muhammad Ali is really similar to other boxers and heavyweight champions except for Muhammad Ali has Parkinson’s disease. I think that you should treat people with disabilities the same way you treat other people.

Muhammad Ali is a great person and he taught me that a person could be whatever they want to be, even if they have a disability. Muhammad Ali is currently living in Arizona and is 73 years old.


painted portrait of Michael PhelpsMichael Phelps by Sienna

I was flying off the diving board into the cold smooth water and felt the water speed by me and the time was running out. I took one last push, and I touched the wall. Then the time stopped… I had won!

Michael Phelps has ADHD. He developed ADHD when he was nine. Michael Phelps was born on June 30, 1985. He is 30 years old. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland. His full name is Michael Fred Phelps. His occupation is swimming. He won 19 medals, and he went to his first Olympics at age 15.

Michael acts like he does not have ADHD when he is in the pool. He shows perseverance by swimming in the Olympics. The first stroke he mastered was the backstroke! Some quotes of Michael Phelps: “Records are made to be broken no matter what they are.” “Dream as big as you can dream and anything is possible.” “Anybody can do anything that they set their mind to.” I think people should show respect to people with disabilities.

A question I still have is why does swimming help with ADHD? Michael Phelps inspired me to swim more. My thinking changed when I found out that the first stroke Michael Phelps mastered was the backstroke!


painted portrait of Frida KahloFrida Kahlo by Tanvi

Vibrant colors. Careful shading. A woman in the picture whose eyebrows you could stare at for hours. This painting belongs to one incredible woman, Magdalena Carmen y Frieda Kahlo. The incredible artist went by ‘Frida’ Kahlo for the rest of her life. She had horrible blackouts and her fingers sometimes moved uncontrollably. Did this stop her? No way.

Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907, in Coyoacán, Mexico City to Matilde Calderón and Guillermo Kahlo. She had two older sisters named Matilde and Adriana, and her younger sister, Cristina, was one year younger than Frida. When Frida was six years old, she was diagnosed with polio. Her right leg was thinner than the left, so her father enrolled her in many sports that only boys were allowed to do at the time, including swimming, boxing, and wrestling, to help her regain her strength. Frida was always a bit of a tomboy, her sister Cristina noted later. Then on September 17, 1925, when Frida was eighteen years old, she was riding in a bus when suddenly a trolley car smashed into her bus. She broke her pelvis, her collarbone, had eleven fractures in her right leg, and a pole pierced her right hip and stomach. During the long recovery, Frida started to paint to put her life down on a canvas. It helped her to have something to believe in, to pursue.

Frida Kahlo showed strength, willpower, and perseverance in her life. She kept painting when life gave her one tragedy after another. We should treat humanity the same whether they have a disability or not. Even if they look different from you, never laugh or point fingers, just think of how you would feel. But some people, like Frida Kahlo, were extremely smart and had an amazing talent. We shouldn’t think about people by referring to their disability. We should think about what their personality is.

Today, Frida Kahlo is one of the most renowned and distinct artists, and she had a disability—polio. She blew minds all around the world. And adding a bus accident to polio—well, that’s not easy to overcome. But she did, and now everybody should know that disabilities do not matter. What we have on the inside matters, not what is on the outside.


painted portrait of Jay CutlerThe Great Jay Cutler by Toby

Jay Christopher Cutler taught me never to judge a book by its cover. Read more to know why. Jay is an NFL quarterback who was drafted in the first round in 2006 by the Denver Broncos. And his first game was a loss to the Seahawks. He was born in Santa Clause, Indiana and went to Heritage Hills High School in Lincoln City Indiana and college at Vanderbilt.

Jay has type I diabetes and he had it for his whole life but he got diagnosed in April 2008. This is how it happened, he had been continually tired for the whole season and lost 35 pounds then his quarterback coach said “we need to go to a doctor I think you have Type I Diabetes”.

Jay does a lot of charity work with kids that have disabilities and gives lots of money to charities for kids with disabilities. Diabetes is a disease where your body can’t produce insulin. Insulin is something in your body that helps your body get sugar for energy. It is really hard for Jay because pro athletes need lots of energy.

Jay taught me not to judge a book by its cover because pro athletes seem to have it all: fame, wealth, a great job and health but not all athletes have health.


Painted portrait of Ludwig van BeethovenBeethoven by Tyler

You know the great composer Beethoven, right? Well did you know he was deaf? He wasn’t born with it; he developed it fully at around the age of forty.

Beethoven was deafened by a problem with his stomach; it is mostly unknown what was wrong with his stomach area that caused his deafness. This must have been very hard because most of his musical pieces were created when he was developing his deafness, so he couldn’t hear his pieces very well. He also was a pianist so he also couldn’t hear himself play.

He was deaf and a composer and pianist and he had to make masterful pieces while being deaf we can focus on his beautiful music instead of his disability we can also focus on how he grew up and what his background is.

Beethoven inspires me by composing while being deaf. He inspired me to continue playing a musical instrument no matter what. My thinking has changed about how Beethoven composed, while not being able to hear his own music, I thought he just thought up random pieces and fit them together. Instead he actually had to think about the sound and imagine it being played on an instrument instead of just having someone play it for him to hear.


painted portrait of Tom CruiseTom Cruise by Vinay

Tom Cruise is a famous actor that has done an amazing 61 movies. Tom is known as Tom Cruise but his real name Tomas Cruise. Tom started acting at age 19. He is one of the highest payed actors witch makes him worth $470 million USD.

Most people don’t know this but Tom has dyslexia. Born in New York and diagnosed at age 7, Tom could barely read in high school. Tom moved houses very often due to his dad’s work which made him scared that the new kids would make fun of his learning disability.

I think Tom is a very talented man despite his disability. I think we could think of him as a person not a person with a disability. He persevered to become one of the most famous actors of all time.

I have learned that you can persevere though anything and you can do anything if you try. I really think he is a great person.


painted portrait of Eleanor SimmondsEleanor Simmonds by Walker

Did you know that when Eleanor Simmonds was thirteen she won her first gold medal in Beijing, Eleanor was born November 11th 1944. Eleanor was born in Washall UK.

Eleanor was born with dwarfism and anchrondropalis. Eleanor was a successful swimmer in the Paralympics She wouldn’t have been able to compete in the Paralympics if she didn’t have a disability, and she wouldn’t have achieved 2 gold, 9 silver, and 3 bronze medals.

Eleanor has inspired many younger swimmers with or without a disability to reach for the stars and follow their dreams. We can focus on her as a smaller person not a dwarf. You can also see her for her achievements.

Eleanor Simmonds has inspired me by going to the Paralympics and has shown me that I should follow my dreams no matter what. She also inspired me to work hard and to achieve my dreams.


painted portrait of Jim AbbottJim Abbott by Wesley

Throwing a pitch ninety-five miles per hour isn’t easy for everyone, but one-handed pitcher Jim Abbott was able to do it. Ever since birth Jim had no right hand; He only had his left hand. Before he played baseball he played lots of other sports including basketball and he won a gold medal in the summer Olympics. Jim pitched in the MLB for ten seasons. The way he pitched was very interesting. He called his signature move the Abbott switch. Jim would balance his glove on his arm. Once he pitched the ball, he got his glove on within one to two seconds, so if the batter hits, the ball Jim could quickly get it and throw the ball.

Growing up, Jim Abbott learned how to do things with one hand, because he never wanted to use the prosthetic hand his parents bought him. He used baseball to push past his disability and do things he might not have done if he had two hands.

Jim Abbott was brave to pitch in the majors with his left hand and he batted with his left hand. He is better at baseball than most people with two hands in the MLB. Just like other people with disabilities, he wants to be treated normally and do the same things that people without a disability can do.

Jim Abbott’s story has inspired me to never to give up. Even though some people said that he couldn’t pitch in the MLB or go to the Olympics, he did both.

After learning about him my thinking has changed. People with disabilities can do things that people without disabilities can do. You just have to work hard and never give up on your dreams.


painted portrait of Lou GehrigLou Gehrig by Win

Crack, the ball sails out of the park and the crowd goes wild. That was Lou Gehrig’s 2,130th game. After that he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Lou Gehrig had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis an incurable disease that weakens the muscles and eventually shuts down your lungs and kills you. Lou Gehrig was the son of two German immigrants. He was the only one out of four children to survive. He was born on June 19, 1903. From a young age Lou Gehrig showed intense skill in both football and baseball. I think Lou Gehrig was very committed to all of his sports his whole life.

Lou Gehrig set multiple world records including most career grand slams (23) and most consecutive games played. He was honored many times in his carrier: he was on All Stars seven consecutive times, won the Triple Crown once and was selected as American league’s most valuable player twice. He was a member of six World Series champion teams. When Lou Gehrig quit baseball he gave a famous speech almost immediately. In 1938 he started having trouble tying his shoe and also batting. Later that year he was diagnosed with ALS and was forced to quit baseball at age thirty-six. Sadly, two years later he died in his sleep.

Lou Gehrig never stopped playing baseball or football his whole life and wasn’t discouraged when he knew he was dying. Lou Gehrig was always playing in the shadow of Babe Ruth and he was almost as good. I think that Lou Gehrig was a much better person than babe Ruth because he was very humble and he didn’t stop trying. After Lou’s Gehrig was diagnosed with ALS, he gave a famous farewell speech. He said, “I may have had a bad break but I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” People with disabilities should be treated the same as people without disabilities. It shouldn’t matter how smart you are, or if you have lost a body part. That should not effect your dreams or your life.

Lou Gehrig inspires me because at the end of his career, when he knew he was dying, he kept playing another year. At the start of this project I had know idea who Lou Gehrig was but know I think he is the one of the most courageous baseball players ever to live.


painted portrait of Howie MandelHowie Mandel by Yasmine

Did you know that Howie Mandel was the host of Deal or No Deal? He was born in rural Willowdale, Toronto, Canada. He has been marred for 30 years to his wife Terry. His full name is Howard Michael Mandel. He started out as a used carpet salesman then he became a stand up comedian. Then he got his spot as a host on Deal or No Deal later he was a judge on America’s Got Talent.

Howie Mandel has overcome a lot of things like he was born with ADHD and OCD. When he was young he had no friends because of ADHD. Howie Mandel has a very hard time sitting down. He has a hard time reading TV scripts because it takes a long time and he doesn’t have a long attention span. Did you know Howie Mandel wrote his own book? Its called Here’s The Deal Don’t Touch Me. Most of it is about his disability. When Howie Mandel was younger, he had his first show people started to laugh at his jokes he got inspired to help people with ADHD and OCD.

I think Howie Mandel showed a lot of perseverance because it’s really hard to sit through a show of America’s Got Talent. Finally Howie Mandel ran around the set of Deal or No Deal to help with his ADHD. He also brought life to the show.

Howie Mandel inspires me to persevere even when things are hard. At first I did not know he had a disability. I think he is an amazing person. Because he got through a lot and he used his disability to his advantage.


Bertschi School is an independent elementary school committed to providing children a balanced education that nurtures their intellect, imagination and character. Bertschi School’s mission is to educate children to become compassionate, confident, and creative learners in a global community. 

Disability Rights Washington‘s (DRW) mission is to advance the dignity, equality, and self-determination of people with disabilities. We work to pursue justice on matters related to human and legal rights. 

© Disability Rights Washington 2012