Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In Malta, young man with spina bifida breakdances his way to disability awareness

From The Times of Malta:

A young man born with spina bifida will next month breakdance his way through common disability misconceptions and help disabled young people find their own dancing beat in a series of workshops.

Known as Jimbo Thinlegz (pictured), 25-year old Oliver Scicluna is organising a breakdancing project, called Breaking Limits, which targets children and young persons with a disability.

He will teach breakdancing to young, aspiring performers and focus on how Hip Hop culture has changed his life, helping him adapt to his own body and making him feel comfortable with his own disability.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at, change,” the international performer believes.

“Every person on this planet has the right to live comfortably. These workshops will show that everybody has an artist within himself. They just need to activate it. Breakdancing is a type of free dance, and the most important aspect of it is to be original... so it’s not restrictive in any way,” he adds.

Mr Scicluna has “always wanted to do things”. From a very young age he delved into the world of drama, walked and swam his way through marathons, and some 10 years ago started teaching himself breakdancing.

Just like every other human being, he goes through difficult moments, but whenever he falls, he says, he quickly gets up and keeps walking towards his goals.

His main goal in life is to live for the “fun of it”. Inspiring others comes naturally.

He hopes to use his outlook onlife and his dancing skills to ­“normalise the way a disabled ­person is ­perceived, and the way he perceives himself”.

Malta lags behind other countries when it comes to changing disability perceptions and doing away with misconceptions, he says. The Maltese tend to focus solely on enhancing mobility and not on psychological aspects that would make disabled people “feel comfortable in a more wel­coming mentality”.

“Another thing that disappoints me is the way disabled people are promoted: as if they are always in need and unable to do anything.

“Disability needs to be understood and promoted in a more colourful way. The feeling of overcoming ­disability, once you understand it better, is incredible.”

The young man used to get annoyed when people treated him “so differently”, but he soon realised the issue needed to be ­tackled... and hence the break­dancing project.

At the end of the series of workshops, which he is working on with the help of his friend and rap artiste Jon Mallia from No Bling Show, Mr Scicluna will be accompanied by Dutch performer Redout who to date has no medical explanation about the disability that left him with deformed arms and legs.

Participation in this project, which is supported by the Malta Arts Fund and Inspire, is free of charge.