About Me

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Long Beach, CA, United States
Jennifer Kumiyama was born with Arthrogryposis and has used a wheelchair all her life. She has experienced life before and after the ADA was put into effect by former President George Bush. She has inspired others by being the first performer in a wheelchair at the Disneyland Resort in the "Aladdin; A Musical Spectacular" show. She was recognized for her reality television debut on the WB's "Popstars 2" in 2000 & was given praise by TV Guide, Variety Magazine and many other local & national papers and magazines. She is a huge supporter of the Special Olympics not only singing for the Opening Ceremonies in Long Beach but Stage Managing the ceremony for Orange County this past fall 2009. On April 4th, 2009 she earned the title of 1st Runner Up Ms. Wheelchair California. Read her blog to find out how her year as "FRU" has been.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My 30th Birthday Celebration & Change A Life - Change for HAITI

I can't imagine my life without my wheelchair. Without it there is so much I would not be able to do.

For the month before my birthday, i collected spare change at my job and church for a fundraiser through Free Wheelchair Mission to raise funds to send wheelchairs to earthquake victims in Haiti. I also had many friends take "change jugs" to their jobs, gyms, school, churches, etc. I was amazed by the out pour of giving that people did to give other the gift of mobility. The cost of ONE wheelchair from Free Wheelchair Mission is just $59.20.

On Saturday February 20th, 2010 for my 30th Birthday, I had a huge bash at my favorite place in Anaheim - BAR 195. There - along with an amazing band, made up of awesome guys, UPSTART, I raised over $1,000 to send wheelchairs to Haiti.

Thank you to everyone who helped me not only celebrate 30 - but raise funds to change peoples' lives. Special thanks to Alyson Roth - MWCC 2009, Brian & Andrew Dorsie of BAR 195, Raquel Beezley - Miss California 2008, the cast & crew of Aladdin, UPSTART (upstartmusic.net, Free Wheelchair Mission (freewheelchairmission.org) amd my family.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Silent Roar - Bethune Theatre Danse Gala

Zina Bethune - Founder

Tonight Bethune Theatre Danse celebrated 3o years! They were kind enough to invite me to celebrate with them and even watch their ballet "Silent Roar". It was honestly the most beautiful dance concert I have ever been to. Founder, choreographer and artistic director, Zina Bethune, was once a dancer herself. She has incorporated people with disabilitites into her productions. "Silent Roar" featured a young boy on crutches. It was great to see other peformers with disabilities in a cast of other performers who are not. Congratulations Bethune Theatre Danse on 30 years of mainstreaming such an important part of our community - the disabled community.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Life Rolls On - TWSA

Typically, the Life Rolls On TWSA events I go to are for surfing. This time, I went SKIING! Today LRO took me, as well as 14 others, on a ski trip to Bear Mountain in Big Bear, California. My Aunt Karen & I boarded the charter bus at 5am and we were in gorgeous, snow covered Big Bear by 9:00am.

The United States Adaptive Recreation Center located at Bear Mountain Resort offers a wonderful opportunity for people with physical and cognitive disabilities to ski and snowboard.

The USARC was founded in 1983 to ensure that access to winter recreation is available to people with all types of disabilities. The USARC believes people are empowered when they undertake and succeed at challenging outdoor recreation. In 1989, the United States Adaptive Recreation Center established the first full-time on-site adaptive ski school in Southern California at Bear Mountain Resort.

The USARC has earned a national and international reputation as a model program in adaptive outdoor recreation, and USARC personnel have served in training programs throughout the United States and the world.

Me sitting in the bi-ski with my USARC volunteers Dusty & Scott making sure I'm secure.
The USARC works with schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and park and recreation departments to serve children and adults with all types of cognitive or physical disabilities. The USARC knows that, after learning new skills and redefining their abilities, participants will feel the freedom of recreating with their families and friends. These experiences often result in increased self-confidence and greater success in academic, professional and personal life changes.

USARC volunteer Dusty
My experience with my USARC volunteers - Dusty and Scott, was the best I could ask for. Both gentlemen were very kind and went above and beyond in making my experience as fun as possible. They were very caring and let me experience skiing as a first timer to my full potential.
I highly reccommend USARC at Bear Mountain to anyone who is looking to ski.

TOP: Getting onto the Lift with me in the bi-ki. Very scary but necessary to get to the top of the slope.
BOTTOM: Headed down the slope! so much fun & quite a rush!
LRO is a great organization that knows no limits when combining the disabled community and extreme sports. Thank you so much to the volunteers at USARC & LRO as well as Meaghan, Kris & Jesse for such an awesome day and for providing me with such an amazing experience.
LRO Founder - Jesse Billauer

Monday, February 1, 2010

Commission of Disability, as well as others, to be CUT in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles City Council is considering eliminating the Department on Disability (DOD) as Soon as March 2010. Today I attended the Budget and Finance Committee Meeting at City Hall.

The DOD is so crucial the our community. It enforces the ADA & oversees the activities of the city AIDS coordinator to expand the availability and accessibility of HIV testing, prevention and treatment. DOD is the city's primary link to the disability community to programs and services.

The Commission on Disability (COD) is vital because it provised expert advice to local government agencies for interacting with the disability community.

It was interesting to hear why the COD & DOD is so important to people who voiced their opinions and concerns about the possible cut of the entire department. I had concerns and opinions of my own.

Without the DOD I feel that the disability community of Los Angeles has no voice. The DOD is necessary to uphold the Civil Rights of persons living with disabilities - Disabled Rights IS Civil Rights. It enforces the laws and rights for us to accessibility in our community as well as allowing us to mainstream ourselves into an "able persons world".

How has LA allowed the budget get to the point to where we are actually not only considering cutting the DOD, but also cutting back in jobs of the Police and Fire Departments?

To voice your concerns, please e-mail mayor@lacity.org.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kiwanis International Entertainment Industry Group

We all know Kiwanis for their big hearts, especially when it comes to kids. Today I was entertained by three of San Fernando Valley Professional School's finest entertainers. These students are supported by Kiwanis and were given the chance to show us their chops at the Aura Nightclub in Studio City.

The evening was hosted by Jagger, a Sophomore at SFVP. Performances were made by classical singer Eleana and Zayne - who sang one of my favorite Journey songs, "Don't Stop Believin".

A main focus of the evening's Kiwanis gathering was to keep music programs in out public schools. Kiwanis is such a great organization that really knows the importance of music education in childrens' lives. Thank you Kiwanis for having me and to Eleana, Zayne and Jagger for a great night at the Aura Nightclub.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

GALA for Anaheim High School to be Anaheim Performing Arts Conservatory

What a great day to celebrate art! After the Human Ability Expo, I made my way to Anaheim High School to perform for their Gala. AHS has the honor of becoming APAC - Anaheim Performing Arts Conservatory. Art students - dancers, singer, instrumentalists will now have the opportunity of being able to get the best education geared toward a performing arts career.

APAC's Gala included performances from accomplished performers like Liza B. Domingo (A Chorus Line - Broadway and Tour), Robert Orosco (Miss Saigon Broadway and tour), International Choreographer Kalen Sakima, APAC Alumni Oscar Gonzalez and other of my fellow performers from the "Aladdin; A Musical Spectacular" show.

It was such a great experience to see AHS gain their new title in such an unfortunate time when arts programs are being cut in so many schools across our country. Congratulations APAC!

The OC Register did a small article of the event: http://www.ocregister.com/news/school-230979-anaheim-apac.html?pic=10

Human Abilities Expo at the Aquarium in Long Beach

Today, I had the awesome opportunity of attending the Human Abilities Expo at the Aquarium of the Pacific in my gorgeous city, Long Beach. The expo celebrated the disabled community involved in all aspects of Art. Being an artist myself, I was so excited to be there and see the success of other people just like me.

Here is one of the talented artists at the expo who had her work displayed for other to see. She paints with an adapted paint brush that she uses with her mouth. In this particular painting, she was creating my favorite flowers, plumeria - beautiful work.

More artwork on display.

UDLA (Unification of Disabled Latin Americans) was there to support the Human Abilities expo and were super happy when I asked for a picture. They do a great job in emerging themselves into the able bodied community by participating in events such as the LA Marathon, which they were recruiting for at the expo.

My dear friend Connie and I had the chance to catch a peek at one of the displays at the Aquarium. The greatest thing about this place is that is is fully accessible, with elevators and ramps to all exhibits which provide a great experience of sea life to all.

The highlight of my day at the Human Ability Expo was getting to see Kodi Lee perform on stage. He has been faced with extreme challenges throughout his young life. Kodi was born blind due to optic nerve hypoplasia which affects the optic nerves and neurological make-up, and later being diagnosed with autism at age four. This amazing musical genius has performed in Tokyo, Korea, and with people like Michelle Williams from Destiny's Child. I had the chance to first see Kodi everal years ago at an Opening Ceremony for the Special Olympics in Long Beach several years ago. His resume is exhaustive and nothing short of impressive. Kodi is 14 years old. At the expo, Kodi performed "Viva La Vid" by Coldplay amongst other amazing tunes.

If you didn't get a chance to attend the Human Ability Expo, I highly reccommend you do so next year. The event was free to anyone who was disabled and to their attendant. Thank you Human ability expo for celebrating the disabled community in the Arts.