Posted on February 26, 2016
Recently a couple of friends suggested I should write about love since February is the month about love and matters of the heart. My first reaction was that I am no expert on love. I suggested that I would leave the discussion to Cupid and the cute trolls in the Disney movie Frozen, who are “the love experts.” Furthermore, since February is Heart Health Awareness month, the American Heart Association covers this subject with great tips.
The more I thought about the subject, I determined it is important to talk about love. Love is much more than the romantic day that falls each year on Feb. 14. Love is more than just taking care of ourselves. Love is helping others and showing compassion to those who are experiencing great difficulties and struggles. Love is reaching out and helping Individuals who look and act different and may be from another culture.
In Luke chapter 10 of the Bible, we are taught that one of the greatest commandments is to love thy neighbor as thyself. We should make an effort every day to help and be a neighbor to people we come in contact with who have struggles to overcome.
There are many different examples of people loving and helping others.
For the last several years, former NFL player and Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow has sponsored Night to Shine , a Valentine’s event for persons with special needs. Participants come together for a prom event and receive royal treatment from the volunteers in order to experience a night to remember. In honor of Black history month, Anquan Bolden of the San Francisco 49ers received the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, which recognizes an individual for impacting his community. Bolden has provided opportunities in education and life experiences for underprivileged children. In honor of Presidents Day, former President Jimmy Carter, through The Carter Center, reaches out to African countries to help provide better quality of life through the eradication of preventable diseases.
We are not as famous as the people listed above. However, we can show acts of kindness and love to others in many different ways. We can reach out and help persons with disabilities and their families by providing a respite break for a few hours. We can spend time with senior citizens, to give them encouragement and hope. We can go to a soup kitchen to help people who are experiencing homelessness. We can lift up children by tutoring them at a local school.
The ideas that I’ve shared are just a start on what we can do to love others. At the bottom of this blog post is a place where you can comment. I would love to hear your comments on ways people are reaching out and loving others.
I encourage each of you to reach out and show love to others in the days and years ahead.
This entry was posted in Education, Health and Wellness, inclusion, people with disabilities, Uncategorized and tagged American Heart Association, Anquan Bolden, Cupid, Disney, Frozen, Presidents Day, The Carter Center, Tim Tebow, Valentine's Day, Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
Posted on January 19, 2016
While spending time in the hospital this past month to deal with a difficult situation, one of the phlebotomists offered some familiar words of encouragement to help me get through the day:
“In every cloud there is a silver lining.” Then, she provided me with an example.
She noted that she only had to stick me once instead of several times to draw blood from a sensitive part of my hand. And she was right: I am sure sticking me several times would have hurt much more.
For you, the dark cloud may be more serious and difficult than just getting blood drawn. Maybe the cloud is finding out that your chronic disability is getting worse or that your increasing age is taking a toll on your body. Maybe it is the loss of employment or of a special relationship. The cloud may be the loss of a loved one. The cloud may be causing great sadness and even depression. Whatever the situation, there is a silver lining and hope of a better day to come.
Over the years I have been asked how I get through the struggles and difficulties that I face with a chronic and progressive disability. I cling to the faith that I have in God. He provides for every need and provides comfort to face each day. For some of you, clinging to family or something else may be what gets you through the difficult times. It is important for all of us to look to the silver lining and hope of a better day.
When I look to the silver lining I am reminded of the song You Will Never Walk Alone, originally performed in Rogers and Hammerstein’s Broadway play Carousel in 1945, by many artists in the years since, and made famous the world over by Jerry Lewis, who sang the song annually at the Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon.
When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone
As we enter a new year, it is important to remember that when the clouds of difficulties and struggles come our way, we need to look to the silver lining and have hope that there is a better day to come.
Posted on November 24, 2015
My voice recognition software is all out of sorts today. When I say something, it decides to write down something completely different than what I said. Too often, it decides to end a sentence in the wrong place and to start a new sentence with the word and.
I am sure some of you can relate when your voice recognition software on your phone decides to call a different person than you wanted. Maybe you tell the voice recognition to call home and instead it calls Home Depot, or maybe you ask for directions and it misunderstands you and searches for something else.
When the voice recognition software does not want to cooperate I have a couple of choices. I can scream at it, or I can patiently correct the mistakes. Screaming will just make it worse; therefore, I work patiently to adjust my words.
All of this leads me to two certainties about voice recognition software: If you’re a user and like me experience times where it doesn’t seem to want to understand what you’re saying, don’t get frustrated and abandon it. Voice recognition software is a marvel and wonderfully empowering for people with certain disabilities. Second, it’s important to edit and review what is written before you deliver a finished product.
When editing a document, Mark Twain explained it like this: “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”
If Mark Twain were alive today, the quote might go something like this: “Writing is easy. All you have to do is get voice recognition software to cooperate and delete the wrong words.”
My voice recognition software of choice is Dragon Speaking Naturally. The software allows me to utilize many different options with voice commands to correct and refine my writing. The software allows me to utilize a voice command of MouseGrid to navigate the mouse to access different Internet pages.
I utilize this software as it would take forever typing one letter at a time on my keyboard and my muscles would be very unhappy. Without the availability of this software, I am sure I would not bother to write this blog post, begin writing my life story, send emails to politicians, surf the Internet and take classes to further my education.
Voice recognition software has helped me to present my views on life and inspire others. I take the advice of Benjamin Franklin, who said that if you don’t want to be forgotten as soon as you are dead, “either write something worth reading, or do things worth writing.” I encourage all of you to take time to write a diary, a blog post, your life story. Inspire others. Start writing today.
Posted on October 30, 2015
A big hit: Thanks to Special Olympics, individuals with limited mobility recently enjoyed playing baseball and soccer at Mary Campbell Center.
This month while observing athletes participating in a Special Olympics Motor Activity Training Program (MATP) at the Mary Campbell Center in Delaware I was reminded that each one of us has the ability to contribute and accomplish great things.
According to Special Olympics of Delaware, MATP is a noncompetitive program designed for athletes who are unable to participate in competitive sporting events because of their skills and functional abilities. MATP is able to prepare the individuals for activities designed for their ability level by offering up modified equipment and innovative ways in which participants can be mobile and engage in sports and recreation.
Each year the Mary Campbell Center hosts a MATP demonstration showcasing the accomplishments of some of its residents. This year’s event included baseball, soccer, bicycling, and swimming skills. Many of the participants at the event experience limited function of their legs, hands and arms. By utilizing switches and devices the participants are able to complete the activity.
The first event of the day was a soccer game where the eight athletes hit a switch with their head or hand to cause the soccer ball to slide down a bowling ramp toward the goal. The staff was creative in utilizing a swinging tennis racket that represented a goalie to attempt to block the shot. The athletes and the crowd were very excited when the ball got through the goal and landed at the back of the net. An additional soccer athlete utilized her walker to push the oversized ball down the soccer field to demonstrate her skills to navigate the ball and walker at the same time.
The second major event of the day was a baseball game where the participants used a specialized baseball stand and ball. The stand was created with PVC pipes and flexible rope and a 10-sided ball with numbers on it to determine a hit or out. In order for the bat to connect with the ball the participants pulled a rope to cause the bat to swing and hit the ball with authority. All the players had the opportunity to bat two times and each one I saw was able to get a hit and received applause and cheers from the crowd. When one batter hit a home run the crowd went wild with clapping and cheering.
Two more athletes displayed their skills for the audience. The first demonstrated a Freedom Concept bicycle with great excitement and enthusiasm. The other athlete provided a demonstration of the swimming skills he had worked on for the past several months.
At the end of the day all of the athletes participated in an award ceremony, where they received a MATP achievement medal. The beauty of this Special Olympics program is that it provides an equal chance for everyone to participate, perform, and be recognized for doing their best. Big smiles and expressions of accomplishment on a job well done were very evident when each one of the athletes received their medals. It was thrilling and a joy to see these smiles and to know each athlete worked hard to persevere and overcome all obstacles to accomplish these achievements.
I encourage everyone to check the Special Olympics of Delaware schedule to find a MATP event that’s close to them. Attend one and you’ll be inspired, seeing first-hand how all of us can accomplish great things.
Posted on September 29, 2015
The biography at the bottom of this blog post indicates that I am a self-advocate. Many of you may be wondering what it means to be a self-advocate.
Human Services Research Institute (HSRI), whose mission is to enrich and improve lives of persons and families experiencing disabilities, suggests self-advocates are people who are empowered to speak up for themselves and others about life decisions without the control of others (Human Services Research Institute, 2015). An article about self-advocacy on the Disability Scoop website suggests that self-advocacy is the idea of asserting yourself in everyday decisions (Diament, 2009).
Each day I have many opportunities to be a self-advocate for myself and others. Some decisions for myself are simple, such as deciding what to eat or the activities to participate in. Other decisions require more thought, such as preparing a health directive for future health treatments. Many times I see opportunities to self-advocate to help make the world better for persons experiencing disabilities. I recently reached out to my state representative to discuss paratransit issues concerning increased prices and how they will affect the limited finances of persons with disabilities. I also contacted the dentist’s office I visit to let them know that the access ramp has gone into disrepair and is a safety issue. I even asked other people to contact them to get this addressed before someone gets hurt.
When I was younger I did not receive any guidance on how to become a self-advocate. I just started to speak up for myself and others. Today, I want to do whatever I can to encourage and guide young people on how to become effective self-advocates. Indeed, the Disability Scoop article on self-advocacy suggests it is important for young people transitioning to adulthood to have guidance and role models to give them the tools to be effective advocates (Diament, 2009).
There are many resources available to help young people become effective self-advocates. Some of them are available through the Center for Disabilities Studies (Full disclosure: I sit on the executive committee of CDS’s Community Advisory Council.) The 2012 summer newsletter delAware, produced by CDS, provides insights on the importance of helping young people become self-advocates. CDS also assists young people in becoming self-advocates with Transition Education Employment Model (TEEM), which helps young people prepare to enter the workforce, take on further education, and participate in the community. I recently heard about PEERS, a curriculum utilized by CDS to provide materials and training to local schools, which in turn helps young people with the tools necessary to help them interact with others. Finally, Junior Partners in Policymaking, sponsored by the Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council, helps students develop leadership and self-advocacy.
Each one of us self-advocates when we speak up for our own hopes and dreams, our families, our political and religious beliefs, our favorite charities. Today, become a self-advocate. Make your voice heard and you’ll bring about positive change in your life, the community, and the world around us.