Their lives are not without challenge.
But neither are they without triumph.
They number 24 and will this year be celebrated for their achievements across eight categories in the 2021 Attitude Awards, which honour the accomplishments of Kiwis living with, or supporting those, with disabilities.
They include a self-starting teen who saw a need in his city, and fixed it, a man giving disabled people a sense of belonging through martial arts, and a young woman determined to improve the lives of disabled tertiary students - with your help.
Their stories will be celebrated at a nationally-televised black tie gala at Christchurch Arena on December 10.
Cherie Howie reports.
Big bill no barrier
Cyrus Dahl has a whakataukī he likes to live by.
Mā tātou te takaro - play is for all.
But it's not just about saying the words of a proverb for 14-year-old Cyrus, who is Waikato Tainui.
It's putting them into action.
Cyrus is an Attitude youth award finalist after raising more than $43,000 for 10 inclusive swings at Wellington and Kāpiti parks - setting up a Givealittle page, making posters and pamphlets and sending emails asking for support.
The supportive bucket swings allow people with disabilities, like Cyrus, to experience the same simple joy loved by so many.
In May the 14-year-old, who has cerebral palsy - a physical disability which affects movement, posture and speech - was there as two of the specially-designed swings were opened at Woodridge's Tawhai Raunui Play Area.
"It brought a tear to my eye seeing them able to play", he says of watching disabled kids use the swings for the first time.
It's been a good year for Cyrus, who got the backing of Wellington City Council to project-manage the ordering and installation of the swings if his fundraising efforts succeeded.
As well as being an Attitude finalist, he was named Youth Philanthropist at the Wellingtonian of the Year event in March.
He communicates via a letter board and, following his passion, on screen.
"He can't talk, so he tells his stories through videos", mum Kris Dahl says.
The teen has his own mini studio, including a green screen, in his room and has done a few videos educating people how to relate to him - including not talking to him like a baby or talking to him through his mum.
Other projects include video montages for birthdays and funerals, and Cyrus has just set up his own editing business so he can earn money to buy better video equipment.
"My room will be filled with gear", he says.
He's also fielded interest from Ashley Bloomfield after emailing the director-general of health about his Covid-19 vaccination.
"I said, 'I was really scared, but it didn't hurt. Can you please tell the Prime Minister?'"
Bloomfield replied to ask Cyrus if he'd be in a vaccination ad campaign for the disability community.
He will - the Newlands College student wants to keep advocating for people with disabilities, especially around accessibility.
Inclusive swings are just the beginning.
"You might find this amazing, but we are just fixing things that are broken."
When Carlos Biggemann wants inspiration for his next creative endeavour, he looks up.
The Dunedin photographer and poet, a finalist for the Attitude creative award, has many places he likes to point his camera, or turn his pen.
But one rises above the rest.
"I have fallen in love with the drama and the contrast that only the sky can say … the vibrant colours, forms, textures, drama, lighting.
"Here in Dunedin, especially in winter, the skies are just nuts. The mixture of colours. It's just magnificent."
The 30-year-old's been photographing the sky since he graduated from Aoraki Polytechnic with a certificate in digital photography, including exhibiting overseas and being one of the accredited photographers at his native Bolivia's colourful Carnaval de Oruro in 2015.
When he's not photographing the sky, Biggemann also enjoys writing about it - through poems "my skies can decide how they're expressing themselves", he says.
With 14 other Dunedin-based poets, he's among contributors to e-book Cumulus, soon to also be in print.
His efforts show people with Down Syndrome "can do extraordinary stuff", Biggemann says.
"We have two feet, two hands and I think we can do marvellous things and make our friends and family proud of who we are."
Having Down Syndrome "absolutely" gives him an advantage, and he's happy to prove wrong anyone who thinks he can't do something.
"It gives us resilience … because we have no limitations, so we strive for life. We can show [others] that we can do it. And that we can do it with love, perseverance and dedication."
Alice Mander has limb girdle muscular dystrophy, which affects her mobility and physical strength.
But she doesn't see the degenerative muscular disease she was diagnosed with aged 11 as the reason she faces challenges others don't.
"I've come to realise that I'm not really disabled by my condition", the 21-year-old Attitude impact award finalist says.
"[I'm disabled] by a society that doesn't make appropriate accommodations for me."
It's something the Victoria University of Wellington law and arts student is trying to change.
As well as advocating for the disabled community through writing for The Spinoff, Attitude, All is for All and Salient Magazine, Mander set up the National Disabled Students' Association, becoming its president and writing its constitution.
The association represents disabled tertiary students to the Government, disabled persons' organisations and tertiary institutions.
She realised change was needed after enrolling at university and seeing how many barriers disabled students faced.
"Unfortunately, there's a lot of them", Mander says of the hurdles faced by disabled students who - tertiary provider data on exact numbers is poor - she estimates number at least a quarter of the tertiary student population.
"Some are as simple as campuses still being physically inaccessible for students with physical disabilities.
"Students [also] often find they have to constantly prove their disabilities to get any sort of accommodation for assessments.
"I think there's poor attitudes from lecturers and university staff as well, and disabled students face the financial barriers and stresses other students face … finding appropriate accommodation and employment, but at a higher level."
She wants a more holistic approach to disability and supporting students' wellbeing - disabled or not.
And making that happen, and other improvements for disabled Kiwis, is on everyone.
The National Disabled Students' Association is full of "amazing young disabled leaders" without whose support she wouldn't be among the Attitude finalists, Mander says.
"It's very much a community effort and the whole community can be very proud of where we've come."
Now others need to step up.
"Non-disabled people in Aotearoa, we need allies in our movement to make Aotearoa a more equitable place … call out inaccessibility when you see it, email your local council if there's an access issue in your neighbourhood.
"We want you to also be fighting our battles with us, so it's not just constantly us having to do it."
A place to belong
They call him sensei - teacher - but it's Lee Hart who feels like the student at Budo Culture for Disabled.
Hart and a team of fellow volunteers take martial arts classes in Dunedin where all the students have a physical or intellectual disability, with lessons tailored to each student and their needs.
The students, from primary school age to pensioners and across two classes, learn balance, coordination, teamwork and discipline.
But the lessons go both ways.
"Absolutely they've taught me a lot", says Hart, an Attitude community champion award finalist.
Disabled people are not universally deaf.
It's okay to speak directly to them - if they have a caregiver, that person will soon let you know if the disabled person can't hear or speak.
And they're tenacious.
"They don't give up easily", Hart says.
"None of them is 'poor me'. They just want to be treated normally and get on with the job, like most of us really."
Hart, 54, came up with the idea of martial arts classes for disabled people after hearing about the concept from a friend in Japan.
With the support of other volunteers, including a physio and nurse with contacts in the disabled community, Budo Culture for Disabled began in 2012.
"[That's why being a finalist] is kind of embarrassing. I did have an idea a while back, but without friends and their contacts none of it would've happened.
"It takes a lot of volunteers to do this, so I see [the recognition] as us, not me."
Budo is the term for a collection of Japanese martial arts, including judo, jujutsu and karate, and that means lessons can be individualised, Hart says.
Grading for the disabled classes is based on effort, rather than technique.
"The beauty of martial arts is you can adapt, whereas with some other sports you can't."
Strength, fitness and co-ordination is an important part of lessons, but so is having fun and being part of a group.
"When they put the uniform on - the gi - there's that sense of belonging immediately.
"There's no leaving anybody out and there's no judgement."
Fave for four-legged foodies
His dog treats business probably isn't going to add a string of zeros to Bradley Lewis' bank account.
But when she thinks of what starting Bradley's K9 Munchies has meant for her son, millionaire is the word that comes to mind, his mum Sarita Lewis says.
"It's not the fact he'll be a millionaire, making [dog treats]. It's the fact he feels like a millionaire, deep down, because he's doing something."
Lewis, who has Down Syndrome, went into business after losing his job at a charity kitchen.
"My daughter, myself and (AccessAbility co-ordinator) Jenny Hogg, we decided - because Bradley was so depressed - what can we do to better him?", Sarita Lewis said.
"We decided we'll give him something to aim for, because he loves cooking and he loves his wee dog, so we came up with this."
Lewis, with the help of 10-year-old bichon frise Snuggles and the pooches of family friends, devised a vet-approved recipe of bananas, oats and peanut butter.
The 25-year-old Southlander has also been involved in all aspects of launching his business, and successfully applied for grant funding for his business through the Manawanui Fund for Good programme.
Online sales have slowed since the latest Covid-19 outbreak, but Lewis is still selling his treats at Invercargill non-profit food store The Pantry. A percentage of all sales go to pet rescue charity Furever Homes.
Long-term the goal is to employ more people with special needs.
"We can help each other", Lewis says.
He wants to give hope to others facing tough times, as he once did, and to let them know something good may be just around the corner.
"Don't give up, keep focusing. Just push on."
*An hour-long television special on the Attitude Awards will screen on December 18 at 4pm on TVNZ1