People around the world have dealt with chronic illnesses and disabilities in their lives, some are even in the public eye. InvisiYouth Charity is so fortunate to have amazing people representing our nonprofit as InvisiYouth Celebrity Ambassadors, dedicated people who’ve experienced chronic illness or disability and are the ultimate examples of how they found ways to succeed at life on their own terms.
Melissa Johns is best known for playing Imogen Pascoe in ITV’s Coronation Street and currently plays Miss Scott on the British detective drama on ITV and PBS, Grantchester.
Growing up in Herefordshire, England, Melissa moved in 2009 to London and attended East 15 Acting School, one of very few aspiring actors with a disability to be accepted into drama school.
Melissa was born without her right hand and forearm. Having this body that was so different to everyone else has made achieving her dreams incredibly difficult, but she has never given up on knowing exactly what she wants and where she wants to be.
She won the Laurence Olivier Award, one of the most prestigious awards and one of the first physically disabled actors to win the award.
She is also co-founder of TripleC and DANC with Coronation Street actor Cherylee Houston, a disabled led organization that use drama and theatre based workshops to enrich the lives of people living with disabilities. Melissa’s message to audiences come from a very personal and driven place. Use what makes you different. Magnify it. Glorify it and use it to make the changes that you want to see.
“Becoming an ambassador for InvisiYouth is an incredible honour. To work with a charity that advocates for teens and young adults with chronic illnesses/disabilities as well as provide programmes/events that support independence and empowerment means the world to me. I’ll certainly do all I can to help these incredible individuals be anything but invisible.”~Melissa
Victoria Arlen’s life drastically changed in 2006 at the tender age of eleven years old when she developed two rare medical conditions known as Transverse Myelitis and Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis. She quickly slipped into a vegetative state and doctors had written her off as a lost cause. Unfortunately, Victoria would spend nearly four years “locked” inside her own body, completely aware of what was going on around her and yet unable to move or communicate. At fifteen, Victoria began the nearly impossible fight back to her life as she came out of her vegetative state.
Victoria has since become an accomplished motivational speaker, actress, model and swimmer. Her swimming resume includes three Silver medals and a Gold medal from the London 2012 Paralympic Games. In April 2015, Victoria joined ESPN as one of the youngest on-air talents hired by the sports company.
In 2017, Victoria joined the Dancing with the Stars season 25 cast, making it all the way to being a semi-finalist. Soon after, she became the co-chair and founder of her nonprofit organization, Victoria’s Victory Foundation provides resources and hopes to those with mobility challenges due to life-altering injuries or diagnosis.
And in August 2018, Victoria released her memoir LOCKED IN: The Will to Survive and the Resolve to Live. She also hosted Season Two for America Ninja Warrior Jr, hosts the X Games with ESPN and has had a great crossover between her entertainment television and sporting backgrounds.
“I am so excited to be an ambassador for InvisiYouth and help be a voice for those suffering from chronic illness. I understand firsthand what it’s like to deal with a devastating health condition and it’s charities such as InvisiYouth Charity that make sure that we do not feel alone. You do not have to fight alone because together we can conquer.” ~Victoria