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New 'Alma's Way' Character Eddie Is Paving the Way for Disability Representation in Children's Shows

The new PBS KIDS show “Alma’s Way” follows a little girl who lives with her family in the coolest borough in the Bronx as she learns important lessons about life while having fun with her friends in the neighborhood. Eddie Mambo is the 6-year-old cousin of the main character — and he has cerebral palsy. Seeing a character who looks like me matters because when I was growing up with cerebral palsy, I never saw characters with disabilities. It is refreshing to see that this generation of kids with disabilities will be able to see someone who represents them.

I recently had the opportunity to get a sneak peek of Eddie’s first appearance in the show, and I absolutely loved that they put Eddie before his disability. Showing the person first is rare for TV shows — usually, they put a character’s disability before the actual character. Eddie is a much-needed change for a TV character with a disability, and this conversation around disability on the show needs to be continued. In honor of Eddie’s first appearance on the show on May 5, I was recently given the opportunity to speak with the supervising producer on “Alma’s Way,” Olubunmi Mia Olufemi, and I also spoke with Dr. Mary Louise Russell, the pediatric rehabilitation physician who helped make sure Eddie’s portrayal was accurate. Here’s what they had to say:

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

LARISSA MARTIN: What inspired you to include this character in the show? Will there be more characters with disabilities moving forward?

OLUBUNMI MIA OLUFEMI: Eddie Mambo is inspired by two people from “Alma’s Way” creator Sonia Manzano’s life: her close cousin, Eddie “Guagua” Rivera, who was a talented bassist and a pioneer in Salsa and Latin jazz and another boy from her

people life character

Olubunmi Mia-Olufemi Mary Louise Sonia Manzano

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