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A young adult with light skin tone and short hair who uses a wheelchair.

Dungeons, dragons and disability representation

How Wesley Magee-Saxton is changing the game

A mermaid who uses a wheelchair. A hill dwarf who is paralyzed from the waist down. An alchemist who uses a knee ankle foot orthosis.

Although these fantasy characters exist in the fictional worlds of Forge Ahead: A Party to Access, they are inspired by the real-life lack of disability representation in media. Forge Ahead seeks to increase the representation of disabled* people in tabletop games, like Dungeons and Dragons.

Wesley Magee-Saxton, co-founder of Forge Ahead, actor and former client at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, is revolutionizing disability representation. From live theatre, to movies and TV shows, Wesley is transforming the media landscape through advocacy, acting and building an international community of tabletop gamers.

Forge Ahead artwork by @hekellion. 


Wesley, who is a non-binary person and uses they/them pronouns, has cerebral palsy. They can trace their love of acting, storytelling and passion for disability representation back to their days as a Holland Bloorview client.

From the time they were 18 months old, Holland Bloorview was a hub for essential services and a community that their family could always go back to for support, Wesley says.

“I would not be who I am today, have the quality of life that I currently have or be the person I am without Holland Bloorview,” Wesley says.

After a major orthopedic surgery at nine years old, Wesley came back to Holland Bloorview for rehab. Their nearly four month inpatient stay was a difficult journey – but Wesley says the staff at Holland Bloorview were “instrumental” in building who they are as a person, particularly the therapeutic clowns.

Beyond bringing joy and laughter into Wesley’s inpatient stay, the therapeutic clowns were there for Wesley throughout their life. Later through the Youth@Work employment program, Wesley got a taste of acting by playing a character named Sir Wheels Drivesalot alongside beloved therapeutic clowns Helen Donnelly and Manuel Rodriguez.

“That experience was incredibly formative. It showed me how performance and health care could be intertwined,” Wesley says.

Throughout the years, Wesley became an even bigger part of the Holland Bloorview community. They worked at Spiral Garden, an integrated outdoor art, garden and play program, as an assistant artist. And they leant their voice to Dear Everybody, a national movement to end stigma and eliminate bias against people with disabilities.

“My experience as a Dear Everybody ambassador led to me immediately seeing a bigger problem: a lack of disability representation and a lack of combating ableism.”

In 2017, Wesley starred in the Netflix show-turned-movie Ponysitters Club as Kyle, a character who uses a wheelchair and has a service dog. Since that role, kids and families have approached Wesley in public to tell them about what a difference they made – and to ask for their autograph.

Although disability representation is getting better, stereotypes about disabled people still exist in media, Wesley says. Wesley has been a part of shows where the disabled character is used as a prop to make the main character look better for being nice to the disabled person.

“That is why disabled representation is just as important in front of the camera as it is in the writer’s room, in the production room, in post-production,” Wesley says. “In every space that exists, disabled people need to be there.”

After recently graduating from York University’s acting conservatory program – and earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts with specialized art and acting for the stage – Wesley is now busy auditioning for new roles and amping up efforts for Forge Ahead. Wesley also dreams of playing a Marvel superhero, and starring in a martial arts movie to show off their Taekwondo training.

And they’re still dedicating time to Holland Bloorview. Most recently, they leant their narration skills to Let’s Talk Disability and Sex, the hospital’s new online resource hub for youth with disabilities, parents and health care providers.

For Wesley, Holland Bloorview’s impact has been long-lasting.

“There is just so much to say about what Holland Bloorview has done for me. They've been absolutely instrumental in being a foundational building block of who I am, where I am now and where I'm going.”

* At Holland Bloorview, we believe in supporting our clients, families, staff and alumni in regards to their preferred language; for example, whether they prefer people-first or identity-first language.

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