Earlier this year a brave 16 year-old from Cork with no limbs wowed the world at the UN Girls in ICT Day with her positive attitude and her story about how technology has changed her life. The making of a documentary about Joanne O’Riordan has been given a welcome boost with the news that Rehab Group is putting €25,000 towards the project.
In recent weeks Siliconrepublic.com reported how the project led by Joanne’s film director brother Steven was nearly derailed after the Irish Film Board at the last minute decided not to support the project which requires €80,000 to be completed.
O’Riordan wowed the world in April when she spoke at a UN conference for Girls in ICT Day on how technology changed her life.
She is one of only seven people in the world with total amelia, a congenital birth condition which causes the absence of all four limbs.
Steven previously produced and directed a breakthrough documentary for TG4 called The Forgotten Maggies which followed the lives of several Magdalene women after they left Ireland’s now-infamous Magdalene Laundry institutions.
When Steven heard the news that the Film Board wasn’t going to support Joanne’s life story he and supporters were devastated. However, with characteristic good humour and the vision that is her hallmark, Joanne suggested crowdfunding the project.
Addressing 200 global leaders in April O’Riordan explained how technology changed her life. She said technology made her more determined to achieve a better standard and quality of life. “I use technology in all aspects of my life, be it at home, in school or through the wider medium of interacting with others. My parents have told me that when I was one I first began to explore the use of technology with our old computer, I figured out how to use this software by simply moving my ‘hand’ and chin at a faster speed.
“Today I can type 36 words a minute and for someone with no limbs, I think that’s an incredible achievement in itself,” she said.
Rehab funding for No Limbs, No Limits film
The Rehab Group has pledged the funding along with professional support for Steven O’Riordan.
Speaking about the decision to support the film, Angela Kerins, Rehab Group CEO said, “Steven and Joanne’s film is a momentous opportunity to share the incredible story of a young determined girl and her family. It is a chance to show people how those with disabilities can and do, overcome challenges, what are at times enormous challenges.
“At Rehab we strongly believe in encouraging people with disabilities to share their stories. It’s a hugely important part of demonstrating how people with disabilities can lead very full lives and also improves wider public understanding of disability. Rehab’s motto is ‘Investing in People, Changing Perspectives’ and we hope that through Rehab’s support Joanne’s story will help to change the perspectives of all those who see the film.”
Welcoming the funding, the film’s director Steven O’Riordan said: “I’m thrilled that the Rehab Group have rowed in to support this film. Joanne’s story is not only interesting one, but it’s also an important one too. Thanks to Rehab’s generous support, this story can now be told.”
The film will focus on Joanne’s life at home, school, work and follow her as she travels to the UN to deliver a landmark address. It will also feature interviews with key members of her family and the experts that have helped her during the 16 years.
The Rehab Group is urging other organisations with available funds to support the project so as to ensure this important story is told.
The Rehab Group has a history of encouraging the participation of people with disabilities in the arts, including theatre, the visual arts and film and previously supported the making of Academy Award winning My Left Foot, which told the story of quadriplegic author Christy Brown.
The Rehab Group has also provided training enabling people with disabilities to learn the skills they need to develop careers in the dynamic arts and media sector.