Connections November-December 2006

by Quest Staff on November 1, 2006 - 1:57pm

QUEST Vol. 13, No. 6

Not just another day at the movies

Ryan Walsh, 19

Gaithersburg, Md.

Congenital muscular dystrophy

Walsh is working to pass a federal bill that would require movie theaters to modify the seats surrounding the accessible spaces by installing “sliders” under them so they could be adjusted to be parallel to the wheelchair. Now, companion seats are often as much as 2 feet in front of the wheelchair space.

The Montgomery Community College student started thinking about the bill more than eight years ago. A law class in high school taught him about lobbying and drafting a bill. He’s met with Claude Allen, President Bush’s former chief domestic policy adviser,and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). Walsh and Van Hollen are drafting the bill.

Walsh graduated last year from Col. Zadok Magruder High School where he was a member of the ROTC. He was named Cadet of the Year for 2005, and received Maryland’s 2005 Youth Disability Leadership Award. Walsh enrolled at MCC after undergoing hip surgery and a tracheostomy. He hopes to transfer to Salisbury University in Salisbury, Md., next year, and study political science with a focus on disability issues.

Ryan Says:
“There is still a lot of separation between handicapped and able-bodied people. I hope my bill starts the process of making our world more accessible.”

MDA artist earns national award for photo

Mandi Zeiler Ziino of Arcata, Calif., has earned a $2,000 Award of Excellence from VSA arts and Volkswagen of America. One of 15 finalists in this year’s competition, Ziino was honored for her photograph “Hidden.”

Mandi Zeiler Ziino and "Hidden," her award-winning photo

Ziino’s oil painting “Mental Chaos” is in the MDA Art Collection.

The artwork by finalists in the contest, for artists with disabilities ages 16-25, is on exhibit at the S. Dillon Ripley Center of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington through Nov. 30. The exhibit, Destination Anywhere, will tour the country next year and can be seen online at

Ziino, 25, who has spinal muscular atrophy, earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in photography and media arts from the University of Montana. She runs an online business called Experimental Artists.

VSA arts, an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, sponsors arts programs and annual competitions for people with disabilities. To learn more, visit or call (800) 933-8721.

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