On a Roll: Family, Disability & the American Dream. A Joanne Caputo film

Audience award-winning documentary. Free screening for the entire month of July!

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More about “On A Roll”

I can’t believe it has been 10 years since the “On A Roll” documentary.  I’m so excited that the film is coming back to the Web throughout the month of July.  Over a million people in the US saw it, but now millions more around the world will have the opportunity.

Here’s what they were saying a decade ago:

From ITVS Web Site

(San Francisco, CA) — Two million Americans use wheelchairs. 54 million Americans have a disability. From his state-of-the art radio studio in his parents’ Mississippi house, Greg Smith—“the wheelchair dude with attitude”—uses his popular nationally syndicated radio program to offer advice, encouragement and inspiration to not only the huge number of disabled Americans but all Americans. His upbeat, tough, and often humor-filled message closes the gap between the abled and disabled by stressing that we all need help from each other, everyday. Directed by Joanne Caputo, ON A ROLL will air nationally on the acclaimed PBS series Independent Lens on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 at 10 P.M. (check local listings) in conjunction with Black History Month.

Greg Smith sounds like a normal dad as he talks to his daughter on his cell phone and calls her “sweetie pie,” but interviews with his three kids prove opposite: “He needs help using the bathroom and getting in bed. He can’t play baseball that good.” Yet daughter Berkeley also knows what he can do: “He can move and drive… and talk.” It’s an accurate description as we hear Smith telling listeners about his new power wheelchair that can zoom around at 8 miles an hour.

Smith looks tiny and emaciated, but with a deep announcer’s voice he interviews Christopher Reeve, then blows the whistle on Clint Eastwood, Nike and Rush Limbaugh, all guilty of insensitivity to people with disabilities. We soon realize that he is no ordinary 65-pound man. He’s the host of On A Roll Radio who began broadcasting after a disability job discrimination experience in 1992.

By 2000, more than 40 cities air Smith’s program, but without major syndicator support. It’s part of the “institutionalized bigotry” that people with disabilities face regularly, according to Smith’s producer, Mike Ervin. Becky Ogle (former White House Disability Task Force director) and Judy Huemann (The World Bank Disability advisor) tell us about more concerns fueling current disability activism—nursing homes, independence vs. interdependence and the power of the growing disability voting bloc, now at 40 million.

Though Smith believes there’s a difference between disability discrimination and racial discrimination… (keep reading)

On A Roll Again

Disability Pride as ADA turns 25

Who is “The Strength Coach” and what is he about? The book I’m currently reading has forced me to look closely at my brand. I’m a motivational speaker, but what makes me different? What makes me stand out from other speakers? After an extensive process, I have realized that I left out a major part of my identity as I marketed “The Strength Coach.” I left out my disability.

How could I forget? I’ve had muscular dystrophy my whole life. I hosted a syndicated radio show on disability for 14 years!  10 years ago, I decided to branch out and become a mainstream motivational speaker. But the mistake I made was that I left behind the source of my strength:  My disability.

I’m bringing that back!  Nothing changes about the essence of what I do.  I teach people how to turn weaknesses into strengths for increased productivity and profits, leaving them feeling “full-strength swag!”  I just feel like celebrating my disability pride right now, which is fueled by the growing excitement over the 25 year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, coming up in July!

So the podcast, Timeout with the Strength Coach, will present the challenges I face and the way I maneuver them, offering analogies for how anyone can use difficulty for personal gain.  My speeches will include a little more disability pride, using examples of people with disabilities who showed me the way.  And in July, filmmaker Joanne Caputo and I will be offering a free screening of the award-winning PBS documentary film, On A Roll: Family, Disability and the American Dream. This year is the 10th anniversary of the making of one of the most impactful documentaries about disability ever made.

Keep checking onarollmovie.com for updates and articles.  Sponsorship opportunities are available.

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Copies of “On A Roll” are available for educational and home use for just $9.95, plus S/H.  Link to filmmaker’s website:  http://www.jojobeanyhead.com/nonfiction.html

Nominate “On A Roll” for the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.  The National Film Registry selects 25 films each year showcasing the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation.  Send an email to filmregistry@loc.gov and paste in this text:  “ON A ROLL – 2005 PBS Independent Lens