Motivational Monday – Meet Muniba Mazari

Muniba Mazari sitting in a wheelchair. " I don't know how my story will end, but nowhere in my text you'll ever read, I gave up."


Muniba Mazari (born
March 3, 1987) is a Pakistani artist, model, activist, motivational speaker, singer, social reformer and television host. She uses a wheelchair due to injuries sustained in a car accident at the age of 21 which makes her Pakistan’s first wheelchair-using model. She is also the National Ambassador for UN Women Pakistan

Career Highlights & Awards:

2015 – One of the two Pakistanis to be named BBCs 100 most inspirational women

1st wheelchair-using model for the Toni & Guy chain of hairdressing salons in Pakistan

2016 – Featured in Forbes 30 under 30



The Disability Network Covenant articulates the commitment we have to work in a collective manner to advance independent living in Michigan.

We believe our collective vision will be achieved as we build, maintain and support a culture of Excellence, Trust and Passionate Action.

The following staff members are this quarter’s Living Our Covenant Award Winners:

Passion Award – Amanda Van Tubergen, Employment Navigator

Excellence Award – Brad Hastings, ADA & Advocacy Coordinator

Trust Award – Danna Pittman, Office & Communications Manager

Our congratulations to our award recipients!

Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month – By Jeffrey VanDyke

Written by Jeffrey Vandyke, Graphics Design Specialist with Disability Network West Michigan

Tomorrow (March 1st) is officially the start of what’s known as Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, so as a result… I wanted to share a little something beforehand.

Cerebral Palsy, the very nature of the two words used together in a sentence, (medically speaking) say that I am ‘Permanently Disabled’, which at 1st glance brings a certain sadness to those who read those words in correlation with one another. Realistically, the condition itself on the surface doesn’t leave much in the way of hope either, as the mere mention of Cerebral Palsy is grim being that the standard hopes of a ‘normal life’ are almost instantly eradicated and replaced by the fears of how bad will it become? The unnerving wait and see game begins.

Specifically of myself, my life has been a constant battle, I’ve literally been defined as a miracle baby as my life almost ended before it started…. born 3 months early, given 2 hours to live, and 30 something surgeries later, I’m still here!

The physical results? I cannot walk or stand at all, nor is it likely that I ever will be able too* my speech is occasionally slurred, and I have constant pain throughout the day as my body and as I age? The smaller tasks take up far more energy and require much more planning than in years before. As I’m often caught in the mental tug of war of what I want to do as opposed to what my body will allow me to do.
Yet, I do not view my struggle as a curse and I am in fact extremely lucky. Despite all the difficulties I have and what I cannot do, I’ve trained myself to try and focus more on what I can do and the gifts I have been given. The mental capacity to think, speak, and see life for myself, as well as an opportunity to prove that life with a disability or any other struggle for that matter is not a definition of who you are or what you can become.

You are more than your diagnosis or struggle your up against and while no amount of prayer, birthday wishes, nor medical intervention has granted the miracle I asked for… it gave me an entirely different gift. The ability to be grateful, accompanied by a certain strength to be able to not only continue on in my own life in spite of seemingly insurmountable odds, but more importantly, the ability to be a voice of experience, which has allowed me to touch others through my experiences and for that opportunity, I am forever grateful and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
#disabilityawareness #cerebralpalsy #cerebralpalsyawarenessmonth

Motivational Monday – Meet Nick Vujicic

Nick Vujicic: Nicholas James Vujicic (/ˈvɔɪtʃɪtʃ/ VOY-chitch; (Born December 4th,  1982) is an Australian Christian evangelist and motivational speaker born with Tetra-Amelia syndrome, a rare disorder (called Phocomelia) characterized by the absence of arms and legs. He is one of seven known individuals who are diagnosed with the syndrome.

2005 – Vujicic founded, “Life Without Limbs” an international non-profit organization and ministry. In 2007 – Founded “Attitude is Altitude”, a secular motivational speaking company

2010 – Awarded Best Actor in a Short Film, “The Butterfly Circus”

Motivational Monday – Stevie Wonder

Stevland Hardaway Morris (Born May 13, 1950), better known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist.

A child prodigy, Wonder is considered to be one of the most critically and commercially successful musical performers of the late 20th century. Wonder signed with Motown’s Tamla label at the age of 11, and he continued performing and recording for Motown into the 2010s. He has been blind since shortly after his birth. Among Wonder’s works are singles such as “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”, “Superstition”, “Sir Duke”, “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”, and “I Just Called to Say I Love You”; and albums such as Talking Book, Innervisions, and Songs in the Key of Life. He has recorded more than 30 U.S. top ten hits and received 25 Grammy Awards, one of the most-awarded male solo artists, and has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the top 60 best-selling music artists.

Wonder is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a holiday in the United States. In 2009, Wonder was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 2013, Billboard magazine released a list of the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists to celebrate the US singles chart’s 55th anniversary, with Wonder at number six.

 Career Highlights:

 1996: Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award

2014: Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

2016: the City of Detroit recognized Wonder’s legacy by renaming a portion of his childhood street, Milwaukee Avenue West, between Woodward Avenue and Brush Street, as “Stevie Wonder Avenue”



Motivational Monday – Bethany Hamilton

Bethany Hamilton-Dirks

Bethany Meilani Hamilton-Dirks (born in Lihue, Hawaii on February 8, 1990) is an American professional surfer who survived a 2003 shark attack in which her left arm was bitten off but who ultimately returned to—and was victorious in—professional surfing.

Major Achievements: 2004: ESPY Award

2005: NSSA National Helping Kids Champion

2008: 2nd place, ASP World Junior Championships

Motivational Monday – Marlee Beth Matlin

Marlee Beth Matlin (born August 24, 1965) is an American actress, author, and activist. She (1986) and to date is the only deaf performer to have won an Academy Award. Her work in film and television has resulted in a Golden Globe award, with two additional nominations, and four Emmy nominations. Deaf since she was 18 months old, due to illness and high fevers, she is also a prominent member of the National Association of the Deaf. Her longtime interpreter is Jack Jason.

Career Highlights & Awards:

1986 – Won the Academy Award for Best Actress for “Children of a Lesser God”

2014 – Won the Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards for disability advocacy

2016 – Received the 2016 Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion. (A $120,000 prize given annually by the Jay Ruderman of the Ruderman Family Foundation to one individual whose work excels at promoting disability inclusion)

Motivational Monday – Roy Frank “RJ” Mitte III

Roy Frank “RJ” Mitte III (born in Jackson, Mississippi on August 21, 1992) is an American actor, producer, and model. He is best known for his role as Walter “Flynn” White Jr. on the AMC series Breaking Bad (2008–13). Like his character on the show, he has cerebral palsy. After moving to Hollywood in 2006, he began training with personal talent manager Addison Witt. They sought acting opportunities where his disability would serve to educate viewers, which led him to audition for the role in Breaking Bad.

Career Highlights:
2013 – Mitte received the SAG-AFTRA Harold Russell Award for his portrayal of Walter White, Jr. on the series; The Screen Actors Guild named Mitte as the spokesman for actors with disabilities and he is the representative of “Inclusion in the Arts and Media of Performers with Disabilities”, which employs artists with disabilities.

2014 – Modeled for a Gap campaign

– Appeared on the cover of the February/March 2015 issue of Neurology Now (published by the American Academy of Neurology). The issue included a short biography and his views on cerebral palsy, bullying, and his acting career. He is also a celebrity ambassador for United Cerebral Palsy.


Reintroduction of the Disability Integration Act Celebration!

Make Your Plans to Celebrate the Reintroduction of the Disability Integration Act with Us!

To celebrate the reintroduction of the Disability Integration Act, NCIL and ADAPT will be hosting a live streaming event on January 15 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern at the Muskegon Innovation Hub at Grand Valley State University (MEREC Building) Rm 200, 200 Viridian Dr, Muskegon, MI 49440. We will be offering a video and audio of the event so you can celebrate along with us!

Thanks to the ongoing efforts of our siblings at ADAPT, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) have set January 15 as the date to reintroduce the Disability Integration Act in the new 116th Congress. This early introduction is cause for celebration, and the excitement we generate early on will help build momentum for the DIA in this new Congress. Help drive the DIA forward and secure its passage in the 116th Congress by celebrating this momentous occasion with us! 


Motivational Monday – James Abbott

James Anthony Abbott (born in Flint, Michigan on September 19, 1967) is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher who played despite having been born without a right hand. He played ten seasons in MLB for the California Angels, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, and Milwaukee Brewers from 1989 to 1999.

Career Highlights & Awards:

1986 – Abbott was presented with the United States Sports Academy’s Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias Courage Award for his courageous action in overcoming adversity to excel in sports

1987 – Abbott won the Golden Spikes Award

1992 – Abbott was awarded the Tony Conigliaro Award, given annually by the Boston Red Sox to a Major League player who overcomes an obstacle and adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination, and courage that were trademarks of the Boston Star

1993 – Pitched a no-hitter on September 4, 1993

2014 – Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards