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. Each of our Celebrity Ambassadors are rock stars in their work, warriors through health, and we are thankful to them. So, let's get to know the Celebrity Ambassadors!
British Actress, Disability Activist and co-founder of TripleC
Melissa Johns is best known for playing Imogen Pascoe in ITV’s Coronation Street and Sadie in BBC’s The Interceptor. 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.
Currently, Melissa is a lead character on BBC One's new drama, LIFE, playing Hannah Taylor! This six-part series will air in the autumn 2020.
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. As well as Coronation Street and The Interceptor, Melissa has also appeared in Doctors, Casualty & SILK as well as theatre shows throughout the UK.
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 advocate for teens & 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
Want to see Melissa Johns with founder Dominique on an episode of our video podcast series, InvisiYouth Chat Sessions? Check out Season One Episode Nine on YouTube, or on our audio podcast platforms, Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Play!
Four-Time Paralympic Swimming Medalist and ESPN Correspondent
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. In 2010, after almost four years in a vegetative state, and now a teenager at fifteen, Victoria Arlen began the nearly impossible fight back to her life.
Victoria would go on to exceedingly defy all the odds and not only recover but 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 added a new job to her resume and joined ESPN as one of the youngest on-air talents hired by the sports company.
In the fall of 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, which was released to rave reviews. The return of Season Two for America Ninja Warrior Jr in February 2020 was also hosted by Victoria, and led so 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, together we can conquer." ~Victoria
Want to see Victoria Arlen with founder Dominique on an episode of our video podcast series, InvisiYouth Chat Sessions? Check out Season Two Episode Sixteen on YouTube, or on our audio podcast platforms, Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Google Play!