Nura Aabe is a Somali born mother who has lived in Bristol for 25 years, who set herself the mission of challenging and changing the often negative and misleading perceptions of autism. When Nura's oldest son Zak was diagnosed with autism, Nura had not heard of autism, a condition that has no word to describe it in the Somali language.
Despite the challenges of stigma and social exclusion, Nura decided to change her social network so that she could help her son. Nura founded the community organisation called Autism Independence that supports marginalised families affected with autism. Since then she has been pioneering raising awareness of autism in the Somali community using a powerful mix of theatre, education and research.
Her dedication and passion for autism inspired her to go back to further education completing a degree in early childhood studies and Masters in Education of Pschology registering her with the British Psychology Society at the University of Bristol. Nura has just applied a PHD research programme which explores autism in ethnic minority which she will hear about soon - finger's crossed!
Nura has also worked on a number of research projects with publications, spoke on media outlets such as channel 4, Women's hour, BBC and BBC World Service. Her theatre production project with the Bristol based Acta theatre has been the biggest success in communicating sensitive information.
For TEDxBristol Nura will be exploring the journey that her and Zak have been on, and her plans to make autism an every day part of life, accepted and understood by the Somali culture.
She says: "There is no word or concept of autism in the Somali language. The closest interpretation of autism is mental illness, and mental illness comes with social exclusion and stigma in our culture. Zak and I became very much excluded from our community - often I was expected to hide Zak. It became us and them. Desperate, I had to find hope, hope in the sense of believing that Zak can learn and that one day I will hear his voice."
Martyn is a lead presenter on The Global Mountain Bike Network. A self confessed 'chain-spotter' - he has always been a fan of anything on two wheels. He started riding motorcycles competitively and winning titles age 12, and at 18 he switched to mountain bike events, becoming British Champion in the National Mountain Bike Trials. He quickly gained status as something of a legend in the mountain biking world, winning numerous British Biketrial national titles, and achieving a Guinness World Record for the Mountain Bike High Jump.
He's also passionate about the bikes themselves - and has created his own innovative frame designs, and masterminded the travelling extreme sports show – the Animal WD40 Action Sports Tour – touring the length and breadth of the UK.
His skill, nerve and drive led to him gaining acclaim around the globe, and his love of bikes coinicided with the rise of niche YouTube videos. He says, "My media profile rose quickly and I featured in the cycling press regularly, securing numerous front covers and features in magazines. My career progressed from competing to a focus on performing in live events and stunts, this all coincided with the internet explosion which subsequently lead to great opportunities in video creation."
In 2012 Martyn released 'Road Bike Party' which was a global hit on YouTube, gaining millions of views in it's first week. His videos have since been viewed online hundreds of millions of times.
But in 2013 his life on two wheels changed as he knew it forever. Whilst performing in a live show he had a serious accident. The subsequent injury left him paralysed from the waist down and devastated his riding career. He entered a time of huge adjustment and soul searching. Little did he, know, his greatest days of riding were still ahead of him!
Martyn came out of hospital with a determination to try new things - from kayaking to wheelchair racing. But the biggest challenge was getting back on the bike - and learning how to ride without the use of his legs.
Martyn has always pushed boundaries - before his accident he disrupted biking by seeking out places to take a bike that you weren't meant to go, or no one knew you could go. Now his talk for TEDxBristol will explore how he is 'disrupting' what people might think of as the physical limits or constraints of a wheel chair user. Despite his debilitating injury Martyn will explore with his straight-talking and honest positivity how he learnt to ride again, what it took to get up off the floor and start his career again, and how he want's to change the perceived image and capabilities of wheel-chair users. He describes himself as 'extraordinary from the waist up!'.
"My ambition is to now continue to break the boundaries down of where I can take my chair. My ambition is to create a video or image in the future that has someone who is able bodied look at it and think 'Christ I wouldn't want to be walking there!' ".
Joshua Luke Smith is a young musician from Bath gaining momentum as an important voice in matters of social justice as well as the music scene. As a craftsman lyricist and a captivating song writer, it is no wonder that his independently released music has been well received, the 27 year old's debut EP secured a top ten position in the international iTunes UK charts only hours after being released. Joshua's mission is to write music that does not simply provide his audience with a good tune or playful lyrics but to release words of power, substance and meaning and speak into the chaos of culture.
His Bath-based independent music label, Orphan No More, supports artists who have a story to tell. He says:
"We believe everybody has a message, everybody has a song and a story to tell. We believe in Heart before Art, that we can change the world outside as we heal the world within. We develop artists, realising their dreams and seeing them become who they were born to be."
For TEDxBristol, he will explore some of the most important, difficult and emotive social issues of our time, through his masterful lyrics and infectious beats.