Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
Brighouse actor Ronan Carter says Fonz star is inspiration
American actor Henry Winkler gave the thumbs-up to Bradford schoolchildren yesterday when he told them about his struggle with dyslexia. Best known as The Fonz in 1970s TV comedy Happy Days, Mr Winkler was at the Abundant Life Centre with the My Way tour, organised by children’s newspaper First News, to raise awareness of learning difficulties and boosting children’s self-esteem.
The actor met dyslexic teenager Ronan Carter, who has landed roles in films and TV shows. “He knows what it’s like to have trouble reading scripts, he’s a big inspiration,” said Ronan, from Brighouse.
Mr Winkler said: “Ronan’s a lovely boy. He hasn’t let dyslexia hold him back and that’s fantastic.”
He revealed he wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until he was an adult, when his son, Jed, was tested for learning difficulties.
“He was doing a school report on native Americans and couldn’t stop talking about it – but he could write three sentences. We had him tested and I thought ‘Oh my God, that’s me’. I realised I wasn’t lazy – what I had had a name,” said Mr Winkler, 65.
“When I was a child in New York no-body knew about learning difficulties. My parents called me ‘dumb dog’ and said I was lazy. I had no idea why I wasn’t achieving, I studied hard but I didn’t know what I was reading.”
After talking to hundreds of school-children, Mr Winkler answered questions and read from his Hank Zipzer books about a wise-cracking dyslexic boy. “Hank has a good support net-work. One in five children has a learn-ing difficulty and if the people around them have a greater understanding of it they can give them the support they need,” said Mr Winkler. “We should celebrate all children, not just the top ten per cent in the academic field.”
Mr Winkler has an honorary OBE for his work with children.
He has written 17 Hank Zipzer books. “If I’d been told as a child that one day I’d be writing books you could’ve knocked me down with a feather,” he said. “Because I was told I was lazy and stupid I was a negative thinker, but I had determination and never let go of my dream of being an actor. What I say to children is ‘every single one of you has greatness inside you’.”