27 October 2009

Famous People Painting - Discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante

The painting itself is great click on the image and then when the page loads hover over the people with your mouse and find out who's in the picture. Then click on the person and obtain their life history. This is fascinating ...

Discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante
Discussing the Divine Comedy with Dante

26 October 2009

Disability Living Allowance Under Threat

Senior minister confirms DLA is under threat

The truth is finally out. A senior government minister this week confirmed to the House of Lords that axing DLA has definitely not been ruled out, directly contradicting care minister Phil Hope’s earlier claim that DLA is safe

Last month we reported that care minister Phil Hope had told a Disability Now reporter in an off-the-cuff exchange at the Labour Party conference that:

"DLA is not under threat and people can be very happy".

(“DLA is not under threat . . . be very happy” says government minister)

Since then, however, there has been an alarming lack of official confirmation that DLA is not one of the disability benefits that the government intends to axe in order to fund the proposed new national care service.

The reason for that lack of confirmation is now clear: Phil Hope's 'don't worry, be happy' statement does not reflect government policy.

Lord McKenzie of Luton, parliamentary under-secretary of state for the DWP, was responding to a question from veteran disability campaigner Lord Ashley of Stoke, who had asked which disability benefits the government are 'considering integrating into the wider social care budget in England'.

Lord McKenzie replied:

"At this stage, we do not want to rule out any options and so are considering all disability benefits."

Later in the same debate, Lord Low of Dalston specifically referred to the "reported statement by the Minister for Care Services that disability living allowance is not under threat" and asked for confirmation that neither component of disability living allowance "is being considered as a possible source of funding for social care".

Once again, Lord McKenzie’s response was in direct contradiction of Hope's "be very happy" statement:

"My Lords, as I said in answer to the first Question, currently no particular benefit is ruled out of consideration."

The minister did go on to add, somewhat cryptically:

"We are conscious of the fact that DLA is overwhelmingly used by people who are under 65, and obviously care needs are overwhelmingly for people who are older."

Whilst there is still much – deliberate – uncertainty around their precise intentions, Lord McKenzie's statement represents the first clear admission by the government that axing DLA is a real possibility.

Had it not been for the thousands of emails and letters sent by Benefits and Work campaigners to MPs, disability organisations and the Big Care Debate website there is no doubt that the threat to DLA would have remained hidden behind a curtain of political spin until it was too late to do anything about it.

Now the truth is finally and officially out in the open and there's still time to for you to act.

Post your comments on the Big Care Debate website

Sign the No 10 petition DLA & AA Petition

You can read the whole transcript of the short debate on the They Work For You website

21 October 2009

No Limits to Learning: Wii Therapy: Findings in Motor Integration/planning and Sensory Systems

Can observing children using theWii help us learn more about their weaknesses and develop strategies to use the Wii to augment traditional therapy and educational practice?

My question at the top is quite a mouthful! We are struggling to get valid results from observing students using the Wii and find ways to use it to support their goals. They love to play the Wii and it can be a real motivating factor. Whether we are looking at social interaction and systems that students work in with autism, or orthopedic issues in motor integration and planning, our efforts are showing some positive results as we have used the Wii in several situations this fall.

No Limits to Learning: Wii Therapy: Findings in Motor Integration/planning and Sensory Systems

18 October 2009

Challenges don't hold boy back

By Denise Richardson

Staff Writer

ONEONTA _ Kieran Jennings and his classmates at Valleyview Elementary School took a math test Thursday.

The pupils picked up pencils. The room grew quiet with concentration.

Kieran, 8, carefully wrote answers on a sheet from a workbook, as his peers at nearby desks recorded and checked figures and sums.

The quiz time was a short spell in a morning busy with reading, writing and listening activities in the second-grade classroom.

Kieran, who has cerebral palsy and uses crutches to walk, kept pace with the schedule. He readily moved around desks, chairs and tables, and from one academic assignment to another.

"He puts forth a lot of effort," Judi Visnosky, his teacher, said. Kieran is among 12 students in her class. At the beginning of the school year, Visnosky said, she moved a table to make room for Kieran's wheelchair, but otherwise there has been little need for other accommodations.

He is treated just "like everyone else," Visnosky said. Kieran is part of the group, she said.

He sits on the floor with classmates during reading time, participates in question-and-answer sessions and plays in gym class.

Coping with the challenges of cerebral palsy seem an accepted part of daily challenges for Kieran, who said his favorite class is gym.

His physician, Dr. Joseph Dutkowsky, said he hopes the sight of crutches and wheelchairs used by children with CP will "melt away," and that people will grow to know Kieran and others as individuals with goals, desires and other human attributes.

Keirstan and Tom Jennings, Kieran's mother and father, are among parents, physicians, physical therapists and children's advocates who signed up

for the Bassett-Columbia Symposium on Cerebral Palsy, held at The Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown on Friday. The program, organized by Dutkowsky, was designed to provide updates on available treatments and venues to discuss the effects cerebral palsy has on individuals and their families.

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that have an impact on a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture. The condition is caused by an injury to parts of the brain, or as a result of a problem with development, the CDC said. Often the problem happens before or soon after birth.

Dutkowsky, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Bassett Healthcare, said the condition is an injury to transmitters, or the motor part, of the brain. CP must never be confused with mental retardation, he said, and most people with CP have normal intelligence.

According to the CDC, one in 278 births in the United States results in a child with CP.

More infants with low birth-weights are being saved through skills of medical staff, Dutkowsky said, and the result is a growing number of individuals with CP in schools, work places and communities. Research also is advancing treatment for CP, which gives hope to families and patients, said Dutkowsky, an associate clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at Columbia University. His seminar topic at the symposium focused on how children with CP make a transition into adulthood.

Bassett Healthcare and NewYork Presbyterian, the hospitals of Columbia and Cornell universities, were symposium sponsors.

Early diagnosis, early intervention

Kieran was born prematurely and spent two months in the neo-natal intensive care unit at Albany Medical Center, his parents said, and he battled fungal meningitis.

Physicians were "very careful to not say" Kieran had cerebral palsy, Keirstan said, but a physical therapist confirmed the condition when Kieran was 6 months old. Tom said he remembers the milestone when a pediatric developmental neurologist said his son wasn't mentally disabled; Kieran was 10 months old, he said.

Keirstan said the fact that she and Tom were teachers in the Oneonta School District helped them feel confident about the support and instruction their son would receive.

She teaches art, and Tom is in his second year as a principal at Schenevus Central School, after having taught social studies at Oneonta High School. Before Kieran started school, each parent took two years off work to be home with Kieran and give him the hours of daily physical therapy he needed.

The Jennings said they remembered when Kieran asked about how long he would have cerebral palsy.

Kieran one day asked, "When I'm in second grade, will I have CP?" Yes, his father replied. Third grade? Fourth? Yes. Yes.

Keirstan said she was holding back tears. Tom told Kieran, "You'll have it all your life."

After a thoughtful moment, Kieran asked if they could go to Ruffino's Pizzeria for dinner.

Kieran attended pre-kindergarten at Greater Plains Elementary School and kindergarten and first grade at Valleyview. His parents said his teachers and the school staff worked hard to make Kieran's academic and social experiences successful.

More second-grade lessons

Teaching assistant Marilyn Bailey is an integral part of Kieran's community. She said she meets Kieran as he gets off a school bus in the morning, is nearby most of the day to help with academic and physical tasks and sees him to the bus after school. When he needs help, she is there. She is a partner in relay races, she said, and they sing in the elevator when no one else can hear them.

"He's just a delightful child," Bailey said. "He has a sense of humor. ... He's very agreeable,"

In the classroom, Kieran has a chair with wheels on the back legs. When at his desk, he uses a seat belt to prevent falls. He will walk, using crutches, to move about the classroom, and a wheelchair always is nearby for use in case of an emergency.

Kieran has trouble with zippers, she said, and he is rather easily distracted. Sometimes wanting to help him is a natural inclination, she said, but the greater goal is teach him to do things for himself and develop skills to further the independence he already is showing,

"He's very independent, but he's still learning," Bailey said. "I'm just there `in case.' ... I'm still learning to work with him."

Hard work leads to success

Tom Jennings said, with a smile, he wants Kieran to become an "alpha male." Jennings said he hopes his son becomes ambitious, self-sufficient and is happy. His son must continue physical activities throughout life, he said, and he is wondering about weight-training and future sports participation. His mother said she hopes Kieran will go to college and "finds a job he loves."

Kieran already has gained self-confidence that grows from facing and succeeding at challenges every day, Tom Jennings said.

"Hard work trumps talent _ every time," he said. "He's learned that if he doesn't quit, he'll succeed."

That earned success is an important lesson that some adults haven't learned, the Jennings said. They also attribute Kieran's success to the work of physical therapists who refused to let him quit.

Liam Jennings, 9, a fourth-grader at Valleyview, said his favorite activity with Kieran is to "run around and wrestle."

"Kieran is the best brother," Liam said.

Tom Jennings said Kieran is a hard-worker, empathetic, kind and inclined to play well with other children.

Skyler Payne is a classmate who enjoys spending time with Kieran, the teachers said.

Skyler, 6, said he and Kieran like to play with Matchbox cars and color.

"We also love Monster Jam and Transformers," Skyler said. They play catch, and Skyler said when they play tag, "I walk slow." Kieran is a "100 percent" friend, compared to others who are "99 percent," he said.

"He really is a good friend to me," Skyler said. "And I am really a good friend to him."

Shelbyville Times-Gazette: Blog: Fibromyalgia - I've Learned to Live Each Day One at a Time

I'll never forget the day I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) in April of 2003. My neurologist, who had been treating me for several weeks for head and neck injuries resulting from a rear-end collision, conducted an 18-point trigger test [pressure-point test of the soft tissue area]. As he had suspected, I appeared to be suffering from FMS.

Shelbyville Times-Gazette: Blog: Fibromyalgia - I've Learned to Live Each Day One at a Time

17 October 2009

Wear your heart on your sleeve

Would you like to purchase your very own wheelchair heart and where it on your sleeve and show the world ?

Here is an example if you click the picture you can browse the items thats on offer, what's more when you place your order add the code "BENNETT" to the order form and you will recieve a 5% discount

What you waiting for lets go shopping!!!!

Adaptive bikes aid 3 riders

Princeton Union Eagle
By Joel Stottrup

Three Princeton students are now enjoying what most kids take for granted — riding a bicycle.

For a long time eighth graders Stephanie Ackerman and Brady Hopland, and fifth grader Colton Benner were unable to ride regular bicycles because of their disabilities. But they could ride the adaptive kind of bikes available during school hours when they had adaptive physical education. However, when they were not in school they were out of luck. They just had to watch other kids ride their bikes.

That changed for Stephanie, Brady and Colton this year, as they got their own bicycles, bikes with three wheels that they can ride. The idea came about after Princeton developmental adapted phy ed instructor JoAnn Aderman began thinking about the bicycle-deficit plight of the three.

“Every kid deserves a bike,” Aderman said at her office last week. “Most kids want to be mobile, get around. Most kids want to ride a bike, they want to swim and be able to get places.”

Trouble is, the three-wheel adaptive bicycles designed for children with disabilities can cost hundreds of dollars and are unaffordable for many families.

Aderman had met Sally Brown who has a St. Paul-based business called Every Kid Mobility that helps find and obtain bicycles for families with kids with disabilities. Brown, who has cerebral palsy, got her own adaptive bicycle at age 50.

Eighth-grader Stephanie Ackerman's adaptive bike allows her to ride with her firends. "Every kid deserves a bike," said adapted phy ed instructor JoAnn Aderman.

For a child to get their own bike and ride is “such a life change,” Brown said last Thursday. “Riding a bike is like a rite of passage. It’s an amazing thing.”

Brown puts on bike fairs during which people can look at the different styles of adaptive bicycles available and see which ones would be suitable. Aderman met Brown at one of those fairs.

Brady would need an especially adaptive bike as he is severely disabled physically and cognitively, said Aderman. The adaptive bicycle he ended up with through the help of Brown, would be the most expensive at $1,700. Colton’s would be the next most expensive at $700-800, according to Aderman, and Stephanie’s bicycle would come in at about $200. Stephanie’s requirement was mainly that it have three wheels and coaster and hand brakes, Aderman explained.

Brady’s three-wheel bike had to have certain cables and a special seat, handlebars and pedals, Aderman noted.

Before the bicycles could be purchased, funding had to be arranged. The three families applied for and received grants from Minnesota Big Dads, Inc., Princeton Lions Club and Minnesota P.E.O. Home Fund to fund the purchases. Money was also donated by some Princeton school staff members, mostly at the middle school and some at North Elementary, Aderman said.

Colton’s new adaptive bicycle is a three wheeler that sits low to the ground and has a sleek, low slung look.

The left side of Colton’s body is compromised by the post strep autoimmune dystonia that he had when he was seven and at the end of second grade, his mother Bobbi Benner noted.

During the summers of 2007 and 2008, the Benners tried seeing if Colton could ride a regular bicycle. They added training wheels, and also Velcro to keep both of his feet on the pedals.

“But it was hard for him and he still wiped out,” Bobbi said. “He couldn’t get going fast enough and he couldn’t stop. He was frustrated and he would cry.”

Colton, Stephanie and Brady received their adaptive bicycles this past summer.

Colton’s new adaptive bike is “super cool,” Bobbi says. “All his cousins and stuff want to ride it. It’s real smooth. He doesn’t need to worry about the balance and he can go a lot faster, smoother.”

Colton can now also keep up with the rest of his family when they are bicycling, and Colton rides much longer, Bobbi says.

Colton has ridden with family members from his home outside city limits and into Princeton to go to the Dairy Queen. He’s also been able to go on the bicycle during family camping trips.

“It’s been really neat for him,” Bobbi said. “It’s kind of a freedom thing. He’s just so excited.”

Bobbi remembers that, at first, Colton hesitated checking out an adaptive bike, thinking he would not look so good on one. She remembers that when the family took him to an adaptive bike fair in St. Cloud to look at adaptive bikes that she could hardly get him out of the car. But once he was at the fair and trying one of the adaptive bicycles he liked, she could hardly get him to leave.

“It’s been really fun,” Bobbi said. “We were really thankful for JoAnn’s help and referral.”

Aderman said she thinks Colton is still “bound and determined” to ride a two-wheel bike.

When Bobbi was asked about that, she agreed. Colton has still been trying to ride a regular bicycle, Bobbi explaining that he had gotten up on a cousin’s two-wheel bike this past summer but “wiped out. But we know he’ll get up again.”

Colton works hard to succeed at things, Bobbi said. She noted that he has not being able to use his arms to swim like most people. So, during a family vacation in Florida he taught himself to swim in the resort swimming pool and taught himself by moving his body “like a dolphin,” she said.

Aderman talked excitedly about Colton, Brady and Stephanie getting their bikes and being able to now ride beyond the school day.

It wasn’t until the seventh grade that Stephanie rode a bike and that was because it was the first time Stephanie had access to an adaptive bicycle at school, Aderman said. Now Stephanie will benefit from getting the exercise that bike riding offers, Aderman added.

And Brady?

“There are only a couple things he’s successful at and bicycling is one of them,” Aderman said. “He loves it.”

Brace the muscles along spine with stretching exercises -- latimes.com

This is a safe and effective way to strengthen the muscles in your back that run parallel to your spine. Start with just a small range of motion and make sure your feet are touching the floor.

Brace the muscles along spine with stretching exercises -- latimes.com

16 October 2009

Free Tickets to enABLE 09 - 6TH - 7TH November 09 at Ricoh Arena, Coventry Free FES assessments

We are delighted to offer you the opportunity for free tickets to enABLE09 any of your client’s who may have a disability or suffer from mobility issues.
The show takes place at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on 6th and 7th November and is a unique opportunity for people to learn more about products and services in the market which will help change their lives and improve their independence.

For tickets please use the link and enter the code PHY001. www.enableshow.co.uk/en/register.aspx?afcode=entemp

Here’s just a taste of what they will see at the show –

- FREE seminars and masterclasses – Including specialist advice for carers – Safe moving and Handling demonstrations
- OVER 120 ORGANISATIONS displaying products and offering advice
- ADVICE CENTRE – one to one advice on benefits, legal and financial issues
- HOME DESIGN CLINIC – learn how to adapt your home to suit your needs
Plus new for this year is the PhysioZone - being run by Jon Graham, Charlie King (Neuromuscular Energising Therapy), Odstock Medical Specialists and Bioness Inc. Clinicians.
Free FES assessments, Bioness demonstrations of L300 and H200 products, Saeboflex demonstrations, walking aid MOT’s etc.

This is your opportunity to book your clients in with some of the UK’s leading Neurological specialists in this area free of charge, in addition to enjoying a great day out.
Pre-show bookings are available at enable@physiofunction.co.uk.

We look forward to meeting you and your clients on the day.

Kind regards

Julia La Garde

15 October 2009

Rett Syndrome most disabling of all the autistic disorders

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

I am writing, hoping you will help raise awareness about Rett Syndrome. It’s the leading cause of severe impairment in girls, yet the general public still doesn’t know about it. A baby girl is born every five hours with this debilitating disease.

Imagine: symptoms of autism, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, epilepsy and anxiety disorders ... all in one little girl.

Our family does not have to imagine this, we are living it. My 21-year-old daughter Amanda was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome in February 1991.

Rett Syndrome is the most physically disabling disorder of the autism-spectrum disorders.

However, it’s the only autism-spectrum disorder with a known genetic cause. Primarily affecting girls, Rett Syndrome often strikes just after they have learned to walk, speak few words, and begins to drag their development backward.

This debilitating syndrome includes symptoms seen in many other severe neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders on which Rett research may shed light.

These include many of the following: regression, loss of speech, motor control and functional hand use; orthopedic problems including scoliosis and osteopenia; impaired cardiac, circulatory and digestive functions; autonomic instability and sleep disturbances; many varieties of seizures, often untreatable; autistic behaviors and sensory issues; Parkinsonian tremors; dystonia; anxiety and apraxia.

Currently, there are no effective treatments for Rett Syndrome. Most girls survive into adulthood and require total, 24-hour care. As of now there is no cure.

But, by raising awareness and continuing to fund research projects, we may be able to make a difference in the lives of girls with Rett Syndrome, and their families.

In 2007 the journal Science published the work of Adrian Bird, Ph.D., demonstrating the reversal of Rett Syndrome in mature mouse models with late-stage disease.

Days away from death, these animals recovered normal function and became indistinguishable from healthy mice in a matter of weeks.

This singular achievement has catapulted Rett into new realms of possibility and positions Rett Syndrome to be the first curable childhood neurological disorder. Rett Syndrome, unlike so many disorders (autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson, MS, etc.) has unique advantages: a known cause (a gene, known as MECP2), excellent animal models that faithfully mimic the human disorder, the prospect of reversibility and fast-paced research progress in the last few years.

There are clear treatment approaches that are currently being explored. The ideas, people and projects are in place. Funding is needed to execute this critical work.

As printed in a www.eurekalert.org/

pub_releases/2009-09/irsf-iaf092109.php public release announcement:

On Sept. 21, 2009, the International Rett Syndrome Foundation announced that it will provide $200,000 in 2009 to support a newly proposed clinical trial with a growth-factor based treatment for Rett Syndrome.

The study will be carried out by a team of clinical trials specialists at the Boston Children’s Hospital, led by Dr. Omar Khwaja MD, PhD and will be the first potentially disease modifying therapy ever to be tested in Rett Syndrome patients. Investigators will test a drug called Increlex.

“We are pleased to announce the funding of this groundbreaking new clinical study which presents a novel therapeutic strategy for the treatment of Rett Syndrome” said Dr. Antony Horton chief scientific officer at the International Rett Syndrome Foundation.

“This study will be carried out by a collaborative network of leading clinicians and neuroscientists in some of the World’s most prestigious research institutes at the cutting edge of biomedical research. Through our funding of this study we demonstrate our commitment to moving forward the most advanced treatments to prevent, treat and ultimately reverse Rett syndrome,” he said.

Ronna Reid


11 October 2009

A disassociated minority

Many minorities a person is born in to. The disabled is one of the few expectations, you may be the only disabled in your family, church, school, job. When isolated like this it makes learning about a disabled path a very hard thing to do, and make one feel like they are stuck. When we do associate with others with disabilities it tends to be by type, the people with Cerebral Palsy joins Cerebral Palsy groups, Blind Joins blind groups, Deaf joins Deaf groups. We tend to associate with those that have our own needs. The main need we have is acceptance of our disability. And realize those with our type our disabled our needs may be closer associated with those with a different disability.

Scott Macintyre’s fans say 'American Idol's' first blind finalist doesn't need the pity vote, New York Daily News, 3/11/09. 'When I saw the first show, I loved it - I wanted to be the first deaf person to do the race.' Luke Adams Amazing Race 14. As a person with a disability I was proud to see to disabilities on the top reality shows in the spring of 2009. But with our minority when we see these stories its promoting the blind and deaf success, but does not move the disabled as a group forward. I highlighted these two but even promoting ourselves we say look at what people with our (disability) can do.

We as a population need to come together as the Disabled and not the blind, deaf, Cerebral Palsy and so on. In doing this we bring power and numbers to the table. As a different disabled groups we may have different health, and medical needs. However, as a group we have the same needs to help us achieve the American Dream."

Professional and Disabled

I often wonder how many people are out there like me, Have a disability and have a career with a path in front of them. But finds a lower glass ceiling for us. We here that many minorities are discriminated against and see it make the news. But 90% of disabled stories the media covers are touchy feely stories that only slows our growth as a minority. As a good friend said 'That kind of pat on the back masks the soft bigotry of low expectations and those low expectations are worse than any actual disability itself.'"

Issues facing those with disabilities most people will not face

Back in May I decided to take a test to get certified as A Filemaker Pro 10 developer. I wanted to pass this to help me freelance as a database developer. The test is 100% multiple choice questions and computerized. So naturally I wonder if I needed special accommodations for the test, since I can’t write but can use the computer. As I was studying for the exam I realize the exam would have 10% calculations which mean I’d need to take notes in the exam itself. So I applied for special accommodations. I asked for double time and a scribe. Here is the issue a normal test taker could pick their site and time when. But for the scribe I need to give 10 Business days notice and they had to find a site to shut the room down for me to take the test. It took 2 weeks to set up the test. As I was setting up the exam I truly debated if the scribe was worth it. I asked mom and Sister both Special education teachers and Co-Workers I work for a special Education District. All had different views.

This is one issue I have faced of many that my disability has played a role. I know others with disabilities has faced same question and other questions, we can ask those who we love and respect for their views, but want someone who has walked in our shoes and can relate. It goes back to my previous post where we are isolated from each other and it’s up to us the disabled to form the connection we need to move ahead."

Professional_Disabled: July 2009

Stronger Movement II

In working for one voice we must realize each of our disabilities needs are different. Some of us can function with limited adaptations while other major adaptations are needed. This makes devolving a movement so much more difficult. So like myself needs to worry about only a pc to function in everyday life while others need a personnel care attendant to function. With this being the case it makes building a case for building a movement so much harder, so that truly parts the ball in our court.

One thing that was meant to help us was the ADA, a good intentioned law, that when we with disabilities interview, future employers has their hands tied, or thinks that because they are unsure what questions they can or can’t asked about our disabilities. This has limited there questions where maybe if they could address it we would get better chances. I once had a possible employer said they had questions about my CP, who could they call? I sent them to the local rehabilitations office. And they did not get any help there and lost interest in me. Once again where if we had a stronger movement it would have helped.

Professional_Disabled: July 2009:

The Movement

I have so many questions and concerns about our movement. The disabled movement is in a stand still. I see no progression in our rights since the passage of the American with Disability act. To the average person they see services and special education and think we are on our way. However, for people with disabilities that are professional the service to help advance in ones field is limited. We see the African American movement, women’s movement, and others pushing for better employment but our falls flat. If we wanted to work in many minimum wage positions we have all the service we need. We as a community need to have a stronger voice to get our rights to advancement the American Dream.

Professional_Disabled: July 2009:

What is a Professional Disabled?

Ok, what is a Professional Disabled? We are those that have a college degree or operate a business that requires a skill set i.e. photography, graphic design, technology, etc. This is the skill set that the support given to the disabled does not provide for. Why are we in this position? Well, we have passed the movement; we are disabled minority pioneers. While most of the movement is focused on the basics, we have surpassed that. With the passage of IDEA in the mid 1970s and ADA in 1990, we are also the first generation to have these challenges. Since we are competitively employed or have a degree, the services look at us as a success; however, having a foot in the door is merely the beginning of the journey. If we want to progress in our careers we have no support, just networking and pure luck. Other minorities have groups working with them to get affirmative action and other programs; we need this for our community. It’s up to us as the community to help us take the next step. Other than careers, we also worry if I make X or get married will I lose the benefits that make me independent. Issues that others may not have to worry about."

Professional_Disabled: July 2009

How are we Viewed

It is sad when I saw a member of congress have a father of a disabled child removed from a town hall meeting on Health care. I would love to have seen the son speak for himself. However, it puzzles me on why congress would put billions in to stimulus to educate the disabled only to have to amend the health care bill to make sure we are covered? Once again does the fact we are educated make the one in powers feel good? We need more; we need people to see what we can do. Only when we are accepted by society can we grow. This will happen when the numbers get together and demand it.

Professional_Disabled: August 2009

Questions and Answers please

It is a pretty simple question what accommodations do you need. But is it. I have found that when an accommodations is given, not all the questions are asked at that time. Because the logistics have not be able to be thought thru or worse yet the answers are assumed before and never asked. When I was 18 I went to my college for placement tests , when we got there we forgot to request a note taker, Whoops assumed I would have one because I always had one. I had a friend who asked for a handicapped accessible Hotel room only to realize they forgot to ask the width and found his chair did not fit. Basic questions but over looked. Then after the accommodation is made realizing not all questions were asked, like who is responsible for what.

I’d like to think 50% of the discrimination we as disabled professionals face is because people 1. Don’t know the question to ask 2. Don’t know how to ask it or 3. Feels the laws prevent them from asking. Its up to us the disabled professional to deal with these issues, and concerns. We are self don’t have the answers but through building a network we can educate ourselves and others."

Professional_Disabled: August 2009:

August 2009

Professional_Disabled: August 2009: "hate to be skeptical but after 36 years of cerebral palsy I am.

Last Saturday I went for a haircut, which I needed. When I got to the place to get a haircut, I noticed a man who had on an Illinois Rose bowl shirt, so I ask him was the Illinois Missouri game that day or the next Sat. He said the next Sat. So I went back to reading my Magazine. As I was getting my hair cut, he paid for mine also.

I thought quietly how offend I was toward this act. Did he see the disability and felt sorry for me? Or was it true kindness. I wish I knew. I know some people feel sorry for us, even though some of us are in the top half of wage earners in the U.S."

September 2009

Growing up disabled was a memory I will not forget, now as a successful professional I look back at where I came from and I am blown away, but now compare my self to my friends now. I now feel far behind. It took a few years in my 20ies to realize how to enjoy what I have. I know many with disabilities may have the same issue. Yes we have over came a lot to obtain success but we can not completely compare ourselves to our professional colleagues. It a hard lesson to learn but once learnt understanding life more is easier.

Professional_Disabled: September 2009

Issues facing those with disabilities

Disabled has different issues that one may have to worried about that other professional does not have to worry about. Like if I take this job will I lose my Benefits, if I get married will I lose my benefits? Sound like an easy question, who passes up a career position to keep their benefits? So benefits like personnel care attendant are too much to give up. Yes Social security can advise you. But why don’t we have a support system among ourselves to deal with these issues? Other issues we all deal with are accommodations, transportation and other. We do have different issues but no place to go to, that allows us to discuss these as professionals.

Professional_Disabled: Issues facing those with disabilities

Cost and the disabled

As a tax payer I often ask why we spend so much on the disabled but do not make sure we as a society does no make sure we get our investments back. For instance many our fearful that if we get a position we will lose the services we need to make it happen. Or why pay for college studies, if there is no job programs available to make sure the disable is employed. Thus it make it hard to get pass the start up of a life.

Professional_Disabled: Cost and the disabled

NHS 'must find jobs for disabled'

9 October, 2009

Leading specialist employment service Remploy is urging the NHS to give more jobs to disabled people.

Chief executive Tim Matthews, former chief executive of Guy’s & St Thomas’ Trust, was speaking at a diversity conference in London organised by the trust.

Questioning whether the NHS is doing enough to promote diversity, he said health service organisations have an important leadership role in finding work for disabled people.

He said that although much has been done to develop disability equality schemes, they have been slow in ensuring more and better jobs for disabled people.

He stressed that the NHS and care sectors play a central role in helping people with learning disabilities and mental health problems achieve their employment potential.

He said that the NHS must ensure that their own workforces represent the communities in which they operate, including employing more disabled people.

Cody Holloway's attitude drives him, not his disability

By Nancy Badertscher

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

1:34 p.m. Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cody Holloway travels the halls of his Sandy Springs high school in a motorized wheelchair.

“The real deal on wheels,” says the sign on the back.

That combination — chair and slogan, disability and attitude — tells you something important about Cody, 14. Children with cerebral palsy may or may not think about the future in a different way from children without it. But in Cody’s case, they run for class president.

“Believe it or not, it actually started out as a joke,” Cody said recently.

Maybe so, but the idea took hold. It was last year in Jennifer Macke’s eighth-grade science class at Ridgeview Charter School that students sat pondering major milestones that might be reached by the time they celebrate their 100th birthdays.

Each student’s timeline was discussed, and when they got to President of the United States Cody Holloway, all of the class “loved it,” Macke said.

And last month he was elected ninth-grade class president at Fulton County’s Riverwood International Charter School.

“If Cody had said he was going to rule the world, I would have said: ‘That sounds about right,’ ” Macke said. “He’s certainly not one to let his disabilities hold him back in any way, shape or form.”

Cody navigates the halls in his wheelchair. A full-time aide at school helps him maneuver through crowded class changes, scribe his answers on standardized tests and interpret his labored speech, especially first meetings.

As candidate for class president, Cody billed himself “the real deal on wheels” and vowed to be “a voice” for students with teachers and faculty.

But he had more than a catchy slogan. His classroom aide, Brady Radford, was his strategist and helped take the campaign to Facebook. His dad had the title of campaign manager but insists he was strictly on the sidelines.

“He did his own thing, and I got out of the way,” Jeff Holloway said.

Two teachers pitched in so his televised message to voters was closed-captioned, bringing clarity to some of Cody’s pronunciations.

Whizzing around in his chair with “the real deal” slogan on the back, Cody solicited votes up-close from classmates, many of whom he knew in middle school.

“He decided since he drives this baby everywhere, why not use it as rolling advertising,” Radford said with a hand on Cody’s wheelchair.

Cody keeps up — especially with news and sports. As a candidate, he promised to keep his classmates abreast of the latest at school and in the community.

Students, like friend and fellow ninth-grader William Cormier, rallied behind him.

“He’s really friendly with everybody,” William said. “He also was very determined.”

Hannahkohl Almire said she watched Cody’s televised campaign speech and was impressed. She also liked his “real deal” slogan. “It was really cute,” she said.

Elections for class president were held in early September. Cody was declared the winner for the ninth grade, though the actual vote counts are never revealed.

“The biggest part was for students to realize that Cody’s cerebral palsy didn’t affect his mental abilities, only his communication and mobility,” said Joel Kadish, a Riverwood teacher and the faculty sponsor for student government.

The win was no surprise to Cody’s mom, dad, brother and sister. “We expect him to do good,” his dad said. “[He] quickly becomes Mr. Popular” wherever he goes.

Cody, who blogs on his beloved Detroit Red Wings and the Crimson Tide, ponders new places he might go — new what-ifs along his timeline. There’s nothing serious in it about himself as U.S. president, but Cody said he would like see one more “open to the needs of the disabled.”

Cody wants to be a sportswriter.

“He told me that all he wants is for everyone to see that just because someone has a disability doesn’t mean that they are not capable of being successful. They just have to work a little harder sometimes,” Cody’s dad said.

10 October 2009

BBC NEWS | England | Dorset | Blind boy uses his ears to 'see'

A seven-year-old blind boy has been taught to "see" using his ears.

Lucas Murray from Poole in Dorset has learned to use echoes to picture the world around him - similar to sonar techniques used by bats and dolphins.

He clicks his tongue on the roof of his mouth and from the sound that returns he tries to work out the distance, shape, density and position of objects.

Watch Film

09 October 2009

Living With God AND Cerebral Palsy — Brandon Ryan Interview / www.enochmagazine.com |

Adam McGahagin interviews Brandon Ryan — Writer, Author, Living with Cerebral Palsy

Enoch Magazine) Brandon, you have been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, what does your typical day look like?

Brandon Ryan: Well, some days I open my eyes, look out the window and then slam my head back down into my pillows. Some days I just want to sleep. But then I realize that I have to get up, I have to make something of the day I’ve been given. Some days are easier than others. Some days, I feel like I’m on cloud nine, and other days I just feel so worn out. I spend a lot of time promoting and marketing my first book. I try and remember that there are people in this world that believe in me. But some days I get down and think “What’s the point of all this?” I day dream a lot, I think every writer spends a huge chunk of time, day dreaming, studying and reflecting. But really, I’m just like anybody else, I get up and I work from nine to five, sometimes later.

Living With God AND Cerebral Palsy — Brandon Ryan Interview / www.enochmagazine.com |

Prader Willi Syndrome

Walking a bit further

View Larger Map

The total distance walked now is 1 KM

Living with Cerebral Palsy

Following the Mores of One’s Heart

How many times have you honestly and earnestly shared your hopes and dreams with not only the people closest to you, but friends, collogues and those who claimed they could help; only to hear words that hamper you and held you back. How many times were you stifled? And, how many times were you and your abilities to move forward held back. Did you feel trapped, frustrated, and beside yourself? Did you wonder when your chance was going to pan out? But instead, you were no further along on the pathway to the life you wanted to lead.

Well, my dear friends, I am writing this article because I have spent a lifetime not listening to those “Pearls of Wisdom.”

Again and again in every aspect of my life, I have turn the other check and found a way to accomplish what every expert and even my beloved family thought was impossible. But I “dreamed the impossible dream, and fought the unbeatable foe.” There are many times in my own personal life when I can remember reaching out to my mother, asking for help to get an education at a time when disabled people, with learning disabilities were not getting degree’s at all, and hearing my mother say… “Why don’t you just accept yourself the way you are instead of forcing and fighting your learning disability to make the impossible happen. Upset, and even more determined, I kept walking through the storm. I kept forging forward even though I was told what I was told. I smiled, grinned and beard it, but was not going to let my mother’s words and her beliefs about me affect me or hamper my quest.
While I knew my mother was being very loving toward me, I also knew that I would not have a place in society, and at the table if I did not push forward and make every attempt and effort to make my life happen.

When I finally got my degree no one was happier than my mother and me. She was the only one who knew what I went threw day in and day out. She came up to me, wrapped her loving arms around me, and hugged and kissed me in the fashion I knew so well. Then, all of a sudden, I found her whispering in my ear… I’m sorry Kranalala” You don’t know, or maybe you do know what this meant to me. It made me radiate with happiness. It made me radiate from within out. And, it made me radiate with sheer joy and bliss because I had reached one of my first unreachable dreams. It was not just hearing my mother’s words of acceptance and love, but knowing that I listened to myself, my heart, and my drummer, and followed a long and arduous pursuit of mine, of which I had just accomplished.

On that day of mine, I learned one very important lesson. That lesson was to always follow your own heart and to stay true to your own dreams and what you know about yourself. People can say what ever they want. But, if you know the truth within yourself that’s what matters! No matter what is said, there are always ways one can still make things happen. You can set yourself free and you can set yourself apart from everything other people say and think about you. You can hold your head high, reaffirm the truth of your own self and own abilities, and walk past and through all obstacles. It is all up to you. It is in your own attitude and belief. Know one can take that away from you if you truly believe in yourself. It may not be the next day, week, month, or year that you get whatever you desire. But it will happen if you stay the course.

You don’t have to be mean, nasty, or get in people’s faces for giving there own opinion, but you can rise above, be eloquent and poised, and accomplish your goals with dignity in a timely, peaceful manor.

Philosophy Now | Reflections On Epilepsy

Raymond Tallis applies his mind to his mind.

My experience with neurological patients has underlined what ordinary life tells us: that a brain in some working order is a necessary condition for human consciousness. Unlike mind-brain identity theorists, however, I do not believe that consciousness is identical with neural activity in the cerebral cortex, the brain stem, the thalamus or wherever. This does not mean that I think I have an immaterial soul; nor do I subscribe to a ‘ghost-in-the-machine’ Cartesian dualism. Rather, I am a non-Cartesian atheist who just can’t help noticing that however hard you look, you will not find sensations, affections and reasons in bits of the brain, or even distributed throughout the brain. So although a functioning brain is necessary for every aspect of consciousness, from the simplest twinge of sensation to the most exquisitely constructed sense of self, it is not sufficient for consciousness – and certainly not for the kind of consciousness you and I enjoy.

Philosophy Now | Reflections On Epilepsy

What is post-polio syndrome?

By: Dr. Gott, The Dickinson Press

Dear Dr. Gott: About 20 years ago, I started experiencing leg aches and generalized fatigue. These symptoms almost imperceptibly but inexorably have gotten worse, to the point where my legs ache all the time. I have no endurance for walking, my knees are weak, and I have to hold onto something when going up or down stairs.

Over the years, I have sought medical help many times and have seen various specialists who have conducted tests and done blood work. They have no answers for me.

When I was 21, I had polio (I am now 60), and research on the Internet led me to the conclusion I have post-polio syndrome. However, the last neurologist I saw six months ago said she had never heard of such a thing, and no specialist has made a connection between the polio in my medical record and my current problems. Where should I go from here?

Dear Reader: To another neurologist. The National Center for Health Statistics indicates almost 450,000 polio survivors in the United States may be at risk for the condition. In fact, 25 percent to 50 percent of those previously diagnosed with polio will ultimately have some degree of post-polio syndrome (PPS) later in life.

PPS is a condition that affects polio survivors and presents 15 or more years following recovery from an attack of the polio virus. Research reveals it to be a slowly progressing condition marked by periods of stability, followed by a reduction in one’s ability to perform daily functions previously taken for granted.

Symptoms may include muscular and general fatigue, muscle atrophy, advancing muscle weakness, increased skeletal deformities (such as scoliosis) and pain from joint degeneration. The severity of disability following the original attack will commonly determine the severity of PPS. That is to say, mild symptoms the first time around will result in mild symptoms the second time. More severe symptoms the first time around will present similarly the second time.

The criteria for diagnosis of PPS include prior paralytic poliomyelitis with evidence of motor-neuron loss; residual weakness; nerve damage as documented by electromyography; partial or complete functional recovery after the acute virus, followed by a period of 15 or more years of stable neuromuscular function with or without gradual onset of new muscle weakness; muscle or joint pain; and muscle atrophy. Symptoms remain for at least one year, and other neuromuscular disorders with similar symptoms are ruled out.

Research has not been promising. Scientists have concentrated on a number of medications that have failed to provide positive results. Despite this, there are recommended management strategies. Exercise with caution, and only under the direction of a qualified therapist. Avoid activities that cause pain or fatigue lasting longer than 10 minutes. Get adequate sleep, eat healthful meals, discontinue cigarette smoking, and take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications for pain management. Participate in support groups or counseling.

Ask your local hospital or healthcare facility for the name of an appropriate specialist in your area. Affiliate with a physician experienced in treating neuromuscular disorders. Doctor shop until you find someone who can work with you.

To provide related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “Choosing a Physician.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed stamped No. 10 envelope and a check or money order for $2 to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

New spinal surgery has patients walking within a day

VANCOUVER — To watch her walk into a room, you would never guess that Carmen Stolk had major surgery six weeks ago to correct a curve in her spine.

The 18-year-old stood straight and confident Thursday morning at BC Children's Hospital, looking happy to be back in the building where history was made in August when surgeons performed a new, less invasive type of surgery to correct her scoliosis.

Stolk was the first person in Canada to receive the surgery, which reduces the amount of trauma done to patients' backs, allowing them to get up and walk the next day.

New spinal surgery has patients walking within a day

07 October 2009

06 October 2009

Cerebral Palsy challenging but not a barrier to success

By Stacy Ellingen
Special to The Reporter

Is the economy ever going to get better?

Where are the jobs?

Will I ever get a job?

These are the questions going through the minds of recent college graduates.

I ask myself these same questions daily, except I have some extra concerns to worry about.

Because of oxygen loss at birth, I was diagnosed, at age 3 months, with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy .

CP affects every part of my body. My muscle tone fluctuates, which makes simple tasks seem impossible. Except for when I'm sleeping, my body is always moving. I need help with all of my basic needs (dressing, toileting, feeding, etc.) I use a power wheelchair to get around and a communication device to speak with others.

Despite having a disability, I've been able to accomplish far more than many people expected. After a couple of years of early childhood classes, from kindergarten on, I attended regular classes. A one-on-one assistant was assigned to help me in the classroom. I did almost all of my schoolwork on the computer and had accommodations as needed. Even though assignments took me much longer to do, I never took any assignment modifications. I graduated from Fond du Lac High School in June of 2003.

Moving on to college

Graduating from high school was a big accomplishment, certainly, but I knew I wanted to go on. In the fall of 2003, I started at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Before deciding on UW-Whitewater, my parents and I did a lot of research. We had to look at different things other than what a "normal" prospective college student would. Things such as accessibility, academic support services and personal care services were critical when I was looking at colleges.

UW-Whitewater is nationally known for specializing in serving students with physical disabilities. There's a center called the Center for Students with Disabilities where all of services for students with disabilities are located. Services include note taking, testing services, alternative media, transportation, physical therapy, and many others. There are also in-class aides for classes that have labs.

I started out majoring in business, but after struggling through a couple econ classes and an accounting class, I switched my major to advertising with a multimedia minor. Because assignments took me longer to complete, for the first few years, I was unable to take the full number of credits. Therefore, it took me a little longer, but I graduated in May. I can't even begin to express how thankful I am that I went on to college. It helped me become so much more independent and self-confident.

After graduation, I moved back home to Fond du Lac. Currently, I'm looking for a job and working on getting an apartment set up. I'm working very part-time as an online mentor for high school students with disabilities.

Dream career

My dream career is to design publications for a company. I'm working with the Division of Vocal Rehabilitation and disability employment agency to help me get a job. With the job market as tight as it is today, it will be a challenge for me to land a job. I will have to prove that, despite my disability, I will be beneficial to the employer. This isn't an easy task.

To be fair to the employer, I'll have to explain my situation and the accommodations I will need. I'm well aware that revealing this will automatically put me at a large disadvantage, but it's something that needs to be known.

In my classes, I've learned that because of tight deadlines, some companies work in a very fast-paced environment. That will be something that I will have to discuss with the employer.

Because of my physical limitations, things take me much longer to complete. People who know me know that I'm a very hard worker, and I won't stop working until the project is done. I'll have to prove that I'm dedicated to the job.

I have a portfolio that I can show which not only includes articles I've written for the paper, but also projects I've done. This will provide the employer with a sample of my capabilities.

Eventually, I'd like to work in an office setting, but I'm aware that when I first get a job, I'll most likely be working from home. If and when I work in an office, DVR will work with the employer to provide the accommodations I'll need. I'll need accommodations such as accessible doors, an accessible restroom, an adapted computer desk and an adapted keyboard.

Hiring people with disabilities adds diversity in the workplace, which builds companies' reputations. It shows that the company is willing to work with people with disabilities. It may take awhile, but I'm confident that I will find something right for me. I'll put it this way — I won't give up until I do.

Additional Facts
Disability series
Today’s personal stories by Stacy and Deb Elligen are part of a 4-part series by The Reporter that focuses on people with disabilities.

Monday’s feature talks with employers and services that help the disabled find employment and highlights the U.S. Census Bureau latest disability figures in Fond du Lac County.Tuesday we talk with Alto resident Don Saffron, who has started his own business.

October is observed as Disability Awareness Month to help empower Americans with disabilities through awareness.


1) Speak directly rather than through a companion or sign language interpreter who may be present.
2) Offer to shake hands when introduced. People with limited hand use or an artificial limb can usually shake hands.
3) Always identify yourself and others who may be with you when meeting someone with a visual disability.
4) If you offer assistance, wait until the offer is accepted.
5) Treat adults as adults. Never patronize people in wheelchairs by patting them on the head or shoulder.
6) Do not lean against or hang on someone’s wheelchair.
7) Listen attentively when talking with people who have difficulty speaking and wait for them to finish.
8) Place yourself at eye level when speaking to someone in a wheelchair or on crutches.
9) Tap a person who has a hearing disability on the shoulder or wave your hand to get his or her attention.
10) Relax. Don’t be embarrassed if you happen to use a common expression, such as “See you later” or “Did you hear about this?” that seems to relate to a person’s disability.
More information is available from American Association of People with Disabilities at www.aapd-dc.org

03 October 2009

Brace treatment for patients with Scheuermann`s disease

a review of the literature and first experiences with a new brace design

In contemporary literature few have written in detail on the in-brace correction effects of braces used for the treatment of hyperkyphosis. Bradford et al.

found their attempts effective, treating Scheuermann's kyphosis with Milwaukee braces, but their first report did not specifically focus on in-brace corrections. White and Panjabi's research attempted to correct a curvature of >50 degrees with the help of distraction forces, but consequently led to a reduction in patient comfort in the application of the Milwaukee brace.

In Germany they avoid this by utitlising braces to treat hyperkyphosis that use transverse correction forces instead of distraction forces. Further efforts to reduce brace material have resulted in a special bracing design called kyphologicTM brace.

The aim of this review is to present appropriate research to collect and evaluate possible in-brace corrections which have been achieved with brace treatment for hyperkyphosis. This paper introduces new methods of bracing and compares the results of these with other successful bracing concepts.Materials and methods56 adolescents with the diagnosis of thoracic Scheuermann's hyperkyphosis or a thoracic idiopathic hyperkyphosis (22 girls and 34 boys) with an average age of 14 years (12-17 yrs.) were treated with the kyphologicTM brace between May 2007 and December 2008.

The average Stagnara angle was 55,6 degrees (43-80). In-brace correction was recorded and compared to the initial angle using the t-test.

Results: The average Stagnara angle in the brace was 39 degrees.

The average in-brace correction was 16.5 degrees (1-40 degrees). The average percentage of in-brace correction compared to the initial value was 36%.

The differences were significant in the t-test (t = 5.31, p <0,001). To make these results comparable to other studies, the kyphosis angle of 25 degrees was set to 0 for our sample in order to achieve a norm value adapted (NVA) percentage of in-brace correction.

By doing this a correction of 54.1% was achieved. There was no correlation between the percentage of in-brace correction and the age of the patient, but a highly significant correlation between percentage of in-brace correction and the initial Stagnara angle.DiscussionIf we assume that outcome of brace treatment positively correlates with in-brace correction, the treatment should be initiated before the curvature angle exceeds 50 - 55 degrees in a growing adolescent.

In scoliosis bracing, if the average in-brace correction equals >15 degrees, then it is predicted that the result will lead to a final correction. Applying this to hyperkyphosis patients, the average in-brace correction with this brace was also >15 degrees.

We therefore estimated to achieve a favourable outcome using this brace type (once compliance was attained) especially when comparing the correction effects achieved with this new approach to the correction effects reported upon using the Milwaukee brace. The latter brace has been shown to lead to beneficial outcomes in long-term studies with comparable in-brace corrections.

Conclusions: Conservative treatment of Scheuermann's hyperkyphosis in international literature is generally regarded as an effective treatment approach.

Physiotherapy and bracing are the first-line treatments for this condition.An average in-brace correction of >15 degrees as was achieved using the kyphologicTM brace predicts a favourable outcome.The kyphologicTM brace leads to in-brace corrections comparable to those of the Milwaukee brace, which has previously been shown to provide beneficial outcome in the long-term.A prospective follow-up study seems desirable before final conclusions can be drawn.Future studies should focus more on thoracolumbar and lumbar curve patterns, because these patterns may predict chronic low back pain in adulthood with reduced quality of life of the patients and high costs with respect to medical care and occupational sickness leave.Surgery according to international literature is rarely necessary in this condition.

Author: Hans-Rudolf WeissDeborah TurnbullSilvia Bohr
Credits/Source: Scoliosis 2009, 4:22

SportsAbility to bring outdoor activities to those with disabilities

| Ocala.com | Star-Banner | Ocala, FL

By Andy Fillmore

Published: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 6:30 a.m.

Diane Leaf has been toiling almost a year for grins.

Or, more specifically, smiles.

Since January, Leaf, program supervisor for the city of Ocala Recreation and Parks Department, has been working on a joint venture with Marion County Parks and Recreation and the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association to bring SportsAbility to the area.

SportsAbility - open to the public and free to participants and spectators - is a two-day event aimed at making park and outdoor leisure activities accessible to those who encounter barriers to healthful leisure time.

Leaf, a certified therapeutic recreation therapist, said the event will be fun for participants experiencing something they may never have done because conventional playground and sports equipment would not accommodate their wheelchairs or allow accessibility.

"My joy is seeing the smiling faces," Leaf said.

SportsAbility literature lists some benefits of outdoor activity as better overall health and avoiding additional health problems.

Everyone deserves the opportunity to be involved with healthful and relaxing leisure activities, Leaf said.

"Prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act, there may not have been the same opportunities," she said.

SportsAbility is a program of the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association. Outdoorsman David Jones founded the 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 1990 after a hunting accident left him with paralysis in his left side. He wanted to establish a means to allow people with varying physical capabilities to start or continue to enjoy the benefits of outdoor activities, Leaf said.

"Individuals have participated with conditions from arthritis to cerebral palsy," she added.

During the event, activities at the MLK Recreation Complex and the Ed Croskey Center's Hampton Aquatic Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday will include wheelchair basketball, adaptive golf and tennis, bocce, laser target shooting, an interactive fishing simulation and therapeutic horseback riding. An adaptive aquatics demonstration and pool party are on the agenda.

An exposition on the recreation complex grounds will include sponsor displays with information about adaptive equipment such as custom-made sit-to-ski chairs. The Pyramid Players, sponsored by the Marion County Children's Alliance, will provide song and dance entertainment at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

In the same timeframe Saturday, events will take place at the Carney Island Recreation and Conservation Area in Ocklawaha. They will include skiing programs by U Can Ski 2, sailing, canoeing, kayaking and pontoon boat rides. Also on tap are archery, target shooting, fishing and nature presentations.

A free hamburger and hot dog lunch will be available, while supplies last.

Therapeutic horseback riding also is planned that day, and Betty Gray of Stirrups 'n' Strides is planning to bring Morgan horses Barney and Knickee. Gray's daughter, Kathy, is a national award winner in Special Olympics riding.

"It's miraculous what riding has done for Kathy; she would likely be in a wheelchair without it," Gray said.

"Kathy plans to participate in the water sports on Saturday," she added.

Leaf said she hopes for a good turnout.

"I love to help people" in the therapeutic recreation setting, Leaf said. "That inspires me."