Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month | March

Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas that onset before adulthood. Learn more about heroes who happen to have developmental disabilities below.

Credit: Eunice Kennedy Shriver (2009) by David Lenz | National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Teachers: Visit the free Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month Lesson Plan for this film program. Includes discussion guide and learning outcomes.

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Film Program

These short films curated by MY HERO film festival director feature heroes who have a developmental disability.

The films below show us common misunderstandings about disabilities, and how society's attitudes towards disabilities have changed.

We also see how our heroes with developmental disabilities are unique individuals who live an empowered life.

Watch these films and feel inspired and empowered to overcome obstacles in your own life and reach for worthy goals.

Super Ruby

Dean Saffron
This piece pays homage to the power of positivity generated by Ruby, a young sporting champion who endeavours to lead her best life everday.

FAITH’S WORLD | BYkids Trailer

Faith Guilbault | BYkids
Faith Guilbault (age 16) has cerebral palsy and invites us to experience living with special needs so we can all treat being differently abled with humanity and normalcy.

Do You See Rainbow?

Kitty Richardson
An insight into autism from the perspective of someone with autism.

The MY HERO Report II - Ablaye

Producer: Fary Sakho & Cheikh Seck
An engaging look at Ablaye, who embodies determination in the face of adversity.

Ministry of Surf

By: Keith Reagan
An intimate look inside the healing power of water & surfing on autistic children and the surfers who offer "one perfect day" to kids!

The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia [Trailer]

Produced by:Karen Pritzker
The myths, the stigmas, the truths, of dyslexia revealed.

Dorothy Allen Pickard on her film Material Bodies

Kitty Richardson
Dorothy Allen Pickard discusses her film Material Bodies, which won 1st place in the Arts Heroes category at the 2020 MY HERO International Film Festival.

Material Bodies

Produced by:Julie Machin, Lucy Pucillino
A visceral and empathetic exploration of people’s relationship with their prosthetic limbs.

Minimum Max

Produced by:Joshua Ovalle
A brief and powerful first-hand account from high school student, Max, who must navigate through the world of ADD and all the medications that come along with it.

Global Dance Heroes

Teresa Taylor

Global Dance Heroes highlights two dance instructors who teach ballet to youth with Down syndrome.

Learn about Developmental Disabilities through Art

Helen Keller by Robert Shetterly,

By: Robert Shetterly

Portrait of Eunice Kennedy Shriver

By: by David Lenz, The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Jim Abbott

By: Kieran from San Francisco

Jim Abbott was born without his right hand and proved that anyone could play the sports they love, even with disabilities.

Learn about Developmental Disabilities through Hero Essays

These hero essays highlight those with developmental disabilities who not only push against odds but also uplift their communities.

Paco, My Dyslexic Hero

By: Skye Malik
Have you ever felt a connection with one of your grandparents? It could be as simple as the love of the same restaurant or as complex as communicating without being able to speak the same language. Well I have had that connection with my grandfather Leo Corey, otherwise known as Paco in my family. We both share the same learning disability, dyslexia.

Skye Malik

By: Sue Glader
Skye Malik founded the Paco Project to give back. She raised $25,000 for New York students to gain access to Learning Ally, which empowers those with dyslexia.

Nick Vujicic

By: Shannon from San Diego

Nick Vujicic, born with no arms or legs, was not allowed to enter mainstream school due to Australian laws. He became one of the first to do so, later receiving his bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Financial Planning.

Vikas Khanna

By: Brenda from New York

Vikas Khanna "was born with misaligned legs and in his teenage years he met with an eye accident which left him partially blind in his left eye...he went on to become one of the most celebrated chefs in the U.S."

Melissa Blake

By: Shannon Luders-Manuel

Melissa Blake is a journalist with Freeman Sheldon Syndrome whose abilities are questioned based on her looks. After her body positivity tweet went viral, she now is leading a movement in self-acceptance called #mybestselfie.

Lewis Carroll

By: Emma George

Lewis Carroll, author of the classic Alice in Wonderland, struggled with stuttering throughout his life, as did most of his family.

Listen & Read Along

The following story has a link so you can hear the audio as you read. Great for ESL students!

Paco, My Dyslexic Hero

By: Skye Malik
Paco, My Dyslexic Hero Grandpa Paco shows Skye that she can succeed at anything.

Jessie Christopherson

By: Emily from North Sioux City
Jessie Christopherson helps the physically and mentally challenged accomplish things they never thought possible.

Family Member Heroes With Developmental Disabilities

Scooter the Cat

By: Shannon Luders-Manuel
Scooter was born with deformed back legs but never gives up and is said to be a human whisperer.

Breaking the Silence

By: Nella Virga

Thanks to Nella Virga's efforts, her daughter was the first child under the age of two to receive a cochlear implant. Virga later opened her own hearing clinic and received the Trademark Woman of Distinction Honors Award.

My Son, Mattie J. T. Stepanek

By: Jeni Stepanek
Jeni Stepanek shares with us how her son Mattie was her hero.

Chen Guangcheng

By: Soham Pawaskar

Chen Guangcheng was blinded as an infant and has worked tirelessly both for disability rights and reproductive rights in China.

Related Links

Faith Guilbault, age 16, has cerebral palsy and invites us to experience living with special needs.
Credit: BYkids
Joel Bueno - anyone can play music.
Credit: Dominique Soquel

The Special Hero Award goes to ‘Super Ruby’

MY HERO presents the Special Hero Award to ‘Super Ruby’ of Dean Saffron’s fil. Dean Saffron also comes first place in the Overcoming Obstacles catergory.

Learn about a New Hero Every Day of the Year: Visit the MY HERO Calendar

Share Your Hero Essays, Films and Art through our Create Program

Outstanding essays submitted to MY HERO will be considered for a certificate/t-shirt prize or be featured on the Story Homepage.

Submit your artwork to be entered in the MY HERO art contest or to be exhibited on our Gallery Homepage.

Students can submit their films for free with a waiver to the MY HERO International Film Festival.

Our Curators

Hero Stories curated by MY HERO General Editor and Writer Abigail Richardson.


Short films curated by MY HERO International Film Festival director Wendy Milette

Organizer created on 1/9/2013 11:41:39 AM by Becky Miller

Last edited 2/7/2024 12:52:02 PM by Abigail Richardson