Former Our Lady of Malibu student advocates for the disabled

Since 2000 the annual Jingle Ball has been one of the most popular concerts for lovers of popular music. It’s a hot ticket. This year a former Our Lady of Malibu student was invited to the KIIS-FM event at the Forum Dec. 2 to walk the red carpet and advocate for those with ambulatory issues that make attending stadium shows difficult.

Tami Ferreira has cerebral palsy, but despite what might discourage others, the 19-year-old this year launched a modeling career that has caught the attention of many in the fashion business who support inclusivity in an otherwise rarefied field. After walking in LA’s Fashion Week, Ferreira was invited to the Jingle Ball to promote a nonprofit called Momentum Refresh. The organization provides mobile bathrooms that allow access and dignity to those who may have difficulties in accessing a typical stadium restroom stall. 

One in seven adults has mobility limitations that may prevent them from going to large events that are not equipped with facilities to accommodate them. These new adaptive restrooms are clean, safe, and comfortable for individuals and their caregivers who are unable to use, or would struggle with, standard accessible public restrooms. The facilities are meant to be used by a wide variety of individuals who may be affected by a full scope of disabilities. 

“These dignified bathrooms can be used by non-ambulant people in society,” said Ana-Paula Ferreira, Tami’s mother who spoke on her behalf for ease at times due to Tami’s slower speech pattern.

Momentum Refresh, based out of Woodland Hills, reached out to Tami, whose outgoing personality and glamourous identity caught their attention.

Prior to the concert, Tami attended a pre-show event dressed to the nines where partners of the IHeart Radio concert set up a community village to showcase the Momentum Refresh vans and show visitors how the facilities work. Tami encouraged those in attendance to check out the innovative inclusive bathrooms and participated in a drawing for visitors to win tickets to the sold-out concert. 

“In order to enter the drawing you’d have to take a tour of the van,” Tami explained. To accommodate those with disabilities and their caregivers the vans have stairs and lifts “and hoists,” she clarified. 

“You’ve been to stadium restrooms and there’s always a disability cubicle. This takes it to a whole new level,” Ana-Paula said. “What often happens is when you go to large events or anything like a shopping mall, rock concerts, a football game with thousands attending, you rarely see any of Tami’s colleagues who are in wheelchairs attending. The reason is they’re just not equipped for people with that level of lack of mobility because they rely on caregivers. It’s across all age groups. They often don’t attend events because there is no dignity.”

Ana-Paula explained that people often don’t realize that others with MS or other debilitating illnesses may need caregivers’ help in using a restroom and the typical stadium facilities “just are not equipped for two people.” She added that the Momentum Refresh vans even have changing beds and showers all furnished with a curtain for privacy even from the caregiver. 

“You will not get that sort of thing in a normal toilet situation in any of these large events,” Tami interjected.

“[Many times] you’re locking out a whole group of people just because of facilities,” Ana-Paula commented. “It’s easy for venues to say, ‘we have toilets for those with disabilities.’ Yeah, but usually they’re occupied by able bodies because they’re not regulated.”

And sometimes they’re quite dirty she added: “If someone’s in a wheelchair that just complicates things.

The purpose of the event is “so event planners can book the vans,” Tami said. Ana-Paula said the accessible restrooms are “long overdue. It’s so basic and nobody’s done it before.”

Asked about her leadership role in advocacy Tami called it “amazing.”

Now enrolled at UCLA Pathway, Tami is planning the next step in her career. The inclusive model practices yoga and will soon be teaching accessible yoga. She aspires to become the first CP model to represent a lingerie fashion brand to question the notion that “because we’re disabled we’re not good enough to be seen in sexy lingerie and swimwear?”

She said her favorite acts at the concert were Dua Lipa, Jack Harlow, and Jax, who has a hit song, “Victoria’s Secret.” She expects to represent a Beverly Hills fashion label in early 2023.

To find out more about inclusive restrooms visit MomentumRefresh.org.

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