Last night saw the recording of a special television show at the McLaren Thought Centre: ‘CNN Inspirations – Breaking Boundaries’, which definitely lived up to its title.
Hosted by Hala Gorani, the programme explored the achievements of three special guests, comedienne Francesca Martinez who has cerebral palsy, Derek Derenlagi a Veteran of Helmand who after a life altering injury was actually, at one point, pronounced dead on the operating table but who has since represented ParalympicsGB at London 2012 and Christine Ha who became the first visually impaired person to win a Masterchef USA television series competition.
Each of the guest’s stories were profound and moving and proved, if proof were needed, that disability is no bar to achievement.
Francesca Martinez, in response to a question by audience member and editor of Able Magazine, Tom Jamison, about the portrayal of disabled people in mainstream media, said that the media had a responsibility to ‘normalize’ disability by showing representative numbers and in terms other than as either extraordinary sportspeople or at the other end of the scale, ‘benefit scroungers’. On being asked about her next goal the effervescent comedienne suggested that she’d like to write another book and simply to ‘be happy’.
Derek Derenlagi told of the challenges of acquiring disability suddenly and brutally as the result of an explosive device whilst serving in the British Army in Afghanistan. Although his Paralympic event has been cancelled for the Rio Paralympics, he is currently working towards representing Great Britain at the discus in the forthcoming World Championships.
Christine Ha meanwhile talked about how she realised that her sight was severely deteriorating and how she’d acted to make sure that she could remain as independent as possible and really showed that the seemingly impossible is still within reach given a person’s will to adapt to changing circumstances.
The programme will be shown at 8pm on Friday 13 May 2016 on CNN International.