Social media has changed the way we communicate, receive information, and connect with others. There is an extraordinary array of people who are blogging, posting and tweeting about their lives and passions that are fun to follow for inspiration, entertainment and information. But when you look at some of these bloggers can you see yourself? Although there have been strides made in promoting diversity and inclusion in many areas, disabled people are still on the fringes of these movements – visible, yet still invisible.
More media representation of people with disabilities is crucial for expanding perceptions of what people with disabilities look like and what they can do. By starting at a grass-roots level on social media, disabled bloggers can share their unique lives and experiences and help people realise that they’re not so different after all. Take a look at some of these under-the-radar Australian and New Zealand bloggers you didn’t even know you needed to follow – but do.
Wheely Whacky Adventures
Take two best friends, a wheelchair, a camera, and a desire to challenge people’s perceptions of disabled people through travel, and you get Wheely Whacky Adventures! Alicia (Wheely) and Leah (Wacky) are two free-spirited New Zealand girls who document their exploits via social media and their YouTube channel to show people with disabilities that they can live their lives to the fullest and to demonstrate that a person’s disability does not define nor confine them. The best friends have travelled all over New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and the USA doing things like bungee jumping, rafting, abseiling and parasailing.
Having displayed determination and a passion for sport from a young age, when Rheed McCracken watched his first Paralympic Men’s 4x100 Wheelchair Relay, his life changed. “This was exactly what I was going to do.” Four years later he competed and won medals in his first Paralympic Games and is positioned to become a legend in the sport. His highest achievement however, may not have been competing at sport’s highest level, but beating actors Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt in the international list of the 100 Most Handsome Faces: Rheed came in at number 71, 20 places ahead of Pitt and seven higher than Gosling! Humble, likeable, and high achieving, he is certainly someone to follow:
Social media influencer, blogger and brand ambassador Jess Quinn, who uses her platform to promote body positivity, can now add activist to that list with her mission to change New Zealand legislation requiring advertisements and the media to disclose if the physical appearance of a model has been digitally altered in photographs. Jess danced her way into the finals of last year’s Dancing with the Stars NZ moving gracefully on her prosthetic limb and with more than 184,000 Instagram followers, is definitely someone you need to check out. https://www.instagram.com/jessicaemilyquinn/
Madison de Rozario
Australian Madison de Rozario is a three-time Paralympic and a five-time World Championships athlete, she is also an artist, speaker, blogger and won not only the 2018 Sportswoman of the year but the 2018 London Marathon too! She is vocal about her relationship with her body and talks and writes about body positivity – “if your body is doing everything you need it to, then it is the perfect body.” Madison is not afraid to call out her online trolls and inspires women to push back against social media harassment. It’s no wonder she has a massive following. https://www.madisonderozario.com/
Not easily pigeonholed - winning two golds and a silver at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, modelling, walking in last year’s New York Fashion Week, currently training for the Ironman competition, and getting ready to perform stand-up at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, all while continuing his day job in artificial intelligence – highly motivated New Zealander Liam Malone is definitely someone to follow on social media. Go to https://www.instagram.com/liammmalone/ to see what he’ll get up to next.
Diversity activist, Young Australian of the Year Finalist, and winner of the 2017 Cosmopolitan Woman of the Year, Jessica is an advocate for positive body image and passionate about raising awareness around disability. She added another string to her bow by becoming a children’s book author after she couldn’t find any books to read to her kids in which disability and diversity were represented. Take a look at her beautiful blog: http://www.jessicasmith.com.au/
New Zealand’s own Jordon Milroy is a man on a mission: a mission to get rugged off-road wheelchairs to disabled people in Samoa. He’s trying to achieve that by raising money climbing the world’s tallest towers. Passionate about human rights and raising disability awareness, he is worth following for his humorous, often self-deprecating posts alone. https://www.facebook.com/jordonsclimb