Great Stories of Achievements of the disabled

Actress in a Wheelchair Ali Stroker May Be the First to Score a Leading Role in a Professional Musical.

Actress Ali Stroker says she, "may be the first actress in a wheelchair in American Musical Theatre to have a leading role in a professional musical." Ms. Stoker will play the role of Olive in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Paper Mill Playhouse, which ran at the Millburn theatre through February 13, 2011. "As a kid growing up in Jersey, it was my lifelong goal to perform at Paper Mill Playhouse," said Ali. "Now my dream has come true."

Stroker is a graduate of Paper Mill Playhouse's Summer Musical Theatre Conservatory, and has long been a champion for the Christopher Reeve Foundation. Stroker has starred in several productions at New Players, Playwrights Horizon and American Theatre of Actors.

Actor James Huffman says, "Injured in a car accident at the age of two, Ali grew up in a wheelchair. Recently, she graduated from the Musical Theatre Conservatory at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. The summer before her senior year, she made the cut for an summer theater program in Amsterdam. She played Sister Aloysius in a European production of 'Doubt.' She is an actress, singer, writer and dancer...

"Ali Stroker found her gift at a young age and never let go.... In her final months at school, Ali signed with a talent agent and has since filmed a commercial for MasterCard. Disney casting has an eye on her, according to her agent, Jed Abrahams of NYC's The Talent House. Abrahams remembers that the first time he met with her, she dropped her pen. He recalled feeling uncomfortable, not sure whether he should help her. But she quickly spun around and picked up the pen. "She's totally comfortable in her own skin, that's something non-disabled people should aspire to," he said."

A deaf man takes a chance on a risky surgery in hopes of hearing for the first time in his life.

The award-winning documentary film FROM SILENCE TO SOUND (WINNER - Best Inspirational Documentary, New York International Independent Film & Video Festival), from Brooklyn Girl Productions, teams up with Cinesouq at this year's American Film Market (AFM), which starts today and runs through Wednesday, November 10, 2010 in Santa Monica, California.

FROM SILENCE TO SOUND is an extraordinary film that documents the quintessential life-changing moment of Justin Garrett, a man who has been profoundly deaf since birth, making history as the first recipient of a bilateral, or double, cochlear implant in Oklahoma on March 13, 2006. Prior to the surgery, Justin had less than two percent hearing in both ears. Today he has nearly 98 percent hearing, thanks to the miracles of modern medical technology delivered via his Nucleus® cochlear implants made by industry leader Cochlear™.

FROM SILENCE TO SOUND is available for licensing through Cinesouq, which is owned and operated by Hollywood Wizard LLC, a member of the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA). Cinesouq's office during AFM is located at the Loews Hotel, 1700 Ocean Avenue, Suite 501, Santa Monica, California 90401. The award-winning documentary is available online for private screening to registered buyers at Total running time: 48 minutes. English subtitles.


Director Chase Matthews offers this moving documentary about Justin Garrett, a completely deaf young man who agreed to undergo radical cochlear implant surgery that could possibly make him hear for the first time. Matthews follows Justin as he prepares for, submits to and recovers from the high-stakes surgery. Success will reverse Justin's condition, but failure will irrevocably destine him to a lifetime of total silence.

Awards & Accolades:

* WINNER - Best Inspirational Documentary (New York International Independent Film & Video Festival)

* WINNER - Best North American Documentary (International Film Festival Egypt)

* WINNER - Best Documentary USA (Everglades International Film Festival)

* BEST DOCUMENTARY nominee (Trail Dance Film Festival)

* BEST DOCUMENTARY nominee (International Film Festival South Africa)

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Why Avatar Didn't Win the Oscar: Psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Fine Asserts the Corporate World Is Bulldozing America...

When Katherine Bigelow's The Hurt Locker won for "Best Picture," many believed that James Cameron's Avatar had been robbed. Speculation focused on Oscar politics and the directors' ill-fated marriage. But noted psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Fine says the reason is simpler: Avatar didn't win because the Academy missed the movie's deeper meaning and chose a "real life" film instead.

Those who've argued that Avatar mimics Dances With Wolves or Pocahontas prove Dr. Fine's point. "The message in Avatar is not a simplistic return to nature or to a previous evolutionary stage," he argues, adding, "It may be the next leap in the evolution of consciousness, and the only one that may hold the promise of survival."

Pointing to the greed and cynicism that not only mark much of American culture but have hardened American hearts, he says that unless we wake up to Avatar's message, humanity will be lost. "This film should be seen by every man, woman and child," he says, suggesting that parents should take their teens and tweens to see it and discuss hidden meanings. "I see you," for example, comes from the Sanskrit Namaste, which translates to: "The God in me sees the God in you" or "I see myself in your eyes."

Like Star Wars, Avatar also appeals to our collective unconscious, or world soul. The Na'vi experience of unity of consciousness with other beings -- all of which (themselves included) are really just manifestations of One Awa, or Yahweh -- echoes our ancestors' belief in an interconnected, ever-changing intelligent web of life, symbolized by the World Tree.

Unfortunately, says Dr. Fine, Avatar's "everything is connected" message lies in glaring contrast with the culture of separation most Americans experience. Focusing on a rise of the feminine, and the importance of bonding, this movie offers a blissful alternative to a world where mothers are devalued and babies sent to day care at the ripe old age of six weeks.

In the end, Dr. Fine concludes, this film is about standing at a crossroads: What do we choose for our children -- commercial materialism or reconnection with all life? "Sadly," says Dr. Fine, "the bulldozers in Avatar represent what corporate, modern life have done to us -- steamrolling our soul and consciousness."

A former student of the famed Joseph Chilton Pearce, and a member of the Association for Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health, Dr. Fine says we can help combat this separation by engaging in conscious child-centered parenting. He suggests that new mothers breastfeed, sleep with their babies, connect with nature, and engage in simple low-tech creative play.

His book, THE ART OF CONSCIOUS PARENTING: The Natural Way to Give Birth, Bond with, and Raise Healthy Children (which he wrote with his wife, Dalit Fine, M.S.) has been praised by child development experts worldwide.

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