Press Kit


First Press Release 4/1/2019 Wingspan UBC:

Artists with Disabilities and Deafness take Centre Stage, shining their light in Lower Mainland schools
Students to meet creative Stereotype-busters and Role Models: Artists with Disabilities and Deafness

On April 1, 2019 UBC’s Wingspan Cluster launches Canada’s first accessible and inclusive Disability and Deaf Artist- Residency Program in 7 Lower Mainland schools in an 8-week immersive encounter with K-12 students. Students in the Vancouver and Delta School Districts will learn from creative stereotype-busters and role models whose art forms are shaped in part by their experiences of living with disabilities or Deafness. Wingspan erases deficit thinking in favour of the idea that disabilities and Deafness are enriching differences that compose Canadian and global diversity. Students will have a rich learning opportunity to work first-hand with nationally and internationally regarded artists ranging from a comedian with facial differences who turns stereotypes of monstrosity to learning about one’s inner beauty, from painters and photographers who are blind to a songstress who advocates for  mental health or an actor, play write and film star who is quadriplegic. Each artist will tackle stereotypes and co-teach with adventurous teachers who are taking up the challenge of teaching about disabilities as both art and enriching difference, identity and pride. “Our attitudes towards people with disabilities need a major overhaul –   and the place to start is in our public schools,” says Dr. Leslie Roman, UBC Professor of Educational Studies and visionary for the Wingspan UBC program, in collaboration with an interdisciplinary cluster of colleagues. During the 8 week residency, the artists will co-teach in host classrooms and participate widely across the schools. They will be visible creating school-wide disability and Deaf pride in school-wide assemblies, co-teaching and performing in their artistic craft, and providing the schools new lenses through which to see art made by artists with disabilities in their own unique voices and stories.

While the pilot begins in British Columbia, it is already attracting national and international interest. Professor Roman explains, “Wingspan has a national goal of impacting the ways inclusion and accessibility are taught by learning from actual artists with disabilities in classrooms across the country. In the meantime, Dr. Roman’s team is keeping their eyes on the progress of Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act: An Act to Ensure a Barrier-free Canada. Wingspan can fulfill the promise of this legislation in grounded locally realizable school contexts on a national scale, bringing Canada up to speed with the US Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed into law in 1990.

The program will extend from April 1 to May 30 and conclude with a showcase of the work of all the students of the 7 schools along with their artist mentors June 17-19 at Kitsilano Secondary School. “Today’s students participating in Wingspan UBC are tomorrow’s citizens, voters, leaders and policy-makers”, says Dr. Roman, “bringing with them the knowledge and experience of a more accessible and inclusive society”.



The following artists were rigorously selected and will be leading Canada’s Wingspan Residency Program:

ACTOR: James Sanders, BFA SFU, Founding Artistic Director of Realwheels. His professional career includes acting writing and producing for stage and screen. Quadriplegic from a spinal cord injury, James is committed to positive and accurate representations of disability in the media.

PHOTOGRAPHER: Cathy Browne is a lifestyle, travel and events photographer, public relations professional and vice- chair of the Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee for the City of Vancouver, who happens to be legally blind.Her camera captures a world she doesn’t see.

COMEDIAN /ACTOR /WRITER: David Roche is a writer, inspirational humorist and actor, best known for his signature show, The Church of 80% Sincerity, which transforms the challenges and gifts of living with a facial difference into a compelling message that uplifts and delights audiences around the world. David’s works with youth around the world in classrooms internationally from the White House to CNN, from Sydney Olympics to schools in North America. The Church of 80% Sincerity showcases his many talents. His facial difference, compel him to deal with the public and private pain of being perceived as ‘ugly’, ‘menacing’, ‘evil’ and ‘dangerous’ in a society that traffics in limiting norms of Western beauty. He has performed in schools and worked with students at every age level throughout the US, Australia, the UK, Canada and all over Europe.

SINGER/SONGWRITER: Sarah Jickling is a Canadian indie singer/songwriter who lives with bipolar disorder,anxiety disorder, OCD, and PTSD. Sarah performs across the country with her band, My Good Bad Luck. BC. Sarah Jickling, Canadian Indie Singer Songstress) is also a mental health advocate. Over the past few years, Jickling’s whimsical indie- pop songs have been featured on radio stations across the country and in independent films. The twenty six year old uses her music to spread mental health awareness, and has opened up about her experiences with Bipolar Disorder and Anxiety Disorder on radio, local television, podcasts, blogs and at live speaking events. She was a finalist for Canada’s top 50 mentorship award for work with youth.

VISUAL ARTIST: Richard Harlow is a painter and photographer whose works include tactile media to experience through touch, and hung at universal height which is accessible for wheelchair-users. Richard fuels his art with activism as a direct response to his experience of living with blindness. His tactile paintings eliminate the barriers in the art world created by so-called abled bodies for the able-bodied. Since people with disabilities often live in poverty,  my art is accessible. I want to show that no person has limits to what they can accomplish and that having a disability is not the end. It’s only the beginning of a new chapter.

VISUAL ARTIST: Kelsie Grazier, currently of Ladner, holds a BFA from Emily Carr, a B.Ed in Secondary Fine Arts Education, as well as an M.Ed in Deaf Education from UBC. Her current paintings depict her life experiences of suddenly becoming profoundly deaf while completing her second degree. She juxtaposes architecturally-designed canvases of simple lines with the aural noise of Tinnitus, which is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears common to those experiencing hearing loss.


With prior arrangement through the publicist, all artists CAN BE available for interviews, Arrangements for media to observe the project in the schools must be coordinated through the Vancouver and Delta School Districts’ Communications Teams to secure the necessary permissions.



Lesley Diana
Phone: 604.726.5575
Iatse 669 Senior Publicist