Archive for March, 2019

Making history

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

Published in the republican 2019

Carrie Writes
Making History
Carrie Barrepski

In New York City, a man became the first blind person to complete the city’s half marathon. Thomas Panek completed his goal with three service dogs for the blind. Three Labradors led him through 13.1 miles by taking turns in leading him.
Thomas is the president and chief executive officer of a non-profit organization called Guiding Eyes for the Blind. The group matches guide dogs to people with vision loss. In 2015, he developed the Running Guide Program in which dogs are trained to guide blind runners at a running pace.
After losing his sight, Thomas continued with his marathon racing with human guides. He eventually progressed to running with guide dogs. He and his dogs completed this half marathon in 2:20:52.
More often, people with disabilities are looked down upon and perceived as being unable to achieve their goals due to their disabilities. Just because there are limitations does not mean that barriers cannot be overcome.
At times, we have to be creative in finding solutions while experimenting with new ideas and techniques. Life is full of unexplored adventures that are waiting for us. We should not let our disabilities stop us. In an interview, Thomas said, “No matter what your challenge or disability is, you can do it. You can do it, one step at a time.”


Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

Published in the Republican 2019

Carrie Writes
Making Assumptions
Carrie Barrepski

Through Twitter, allegations were made towards Southwest Airlines, where a gate agent accused an individual with special needs of faking their disability. A cheerleader who has cerebral palsy, who is part of an Illinois cheerleading squad called the Reign Athletes Dynasty tried to board an airplane with an early boarding pass.
When it came time to check in, the man checking tickets mocked the girl, saying, “HAHA I can do that with my hand too and say I’m disabled.” When the cheerleader’s sister heard the comments and laughter, she immediately demanded to speak to whoever was in charge. Another agent asked the sister if she herself were disabled and claimed they were both faking a disability. The only response they got from the person in charge was a free drink coupon.
According to Fox News, Southwest Airlines stated that “preboarding is available to our customers who have a specific seating need to accommodate their disability. . . . If a customer with a disability simply needs a little extra time to board, we will permit the customer to board before family boarding, between the ‘A’ and ‘B’ groups. We are following up with the employees working this particular flight to emphasize our policies and procedures and underscore our expectations to offer all customers the legendary customer service we’re known for – and especially customers with disabilities.”
It is incidents like this that show that there is a lot of stereotyping happening in our society. There are still many misconceptions floating around that cause many problems for people with disabilities. More importantly, it needs to be remembered that not all disabilities are visible and assumptions should not be made about anyone.

Yoga accessibility

Wednesday, March 13th, 2019

Published in the Republican 2019

I was invited to be interviewed for an online yoga summit organized by yoga teacher and psychotherapist Ashley Turner. The conference is from March 18 to March 22. Ashley asked me to focus on how to make yoga accessible for people with disabilities based on my own personal experiences.
Yoga has been a wonderful practice, helping people connect with their bodies, calming their minds and releasing anxiety. Like myself, many people have trouble with different poses, such as standing and balancing poses due to physical limitations.
In teaching yoga or practicing, you need to be creative in adapting to the pose by taking it apart to make adjustments. I am a big fan of using props, such as blocks, straps and a chair to get the full effect of the yoga pose.
Oftentimes, it can be useful to find a new and safe way to modify the pose to your body’s limitations. In yoga, having proper alignment is the key to keeping your body safe.
As in any practice, maintaining proper breath to the movement is the key to getting the full effect of the mind and body connection. I am always reminded of a quote I learned from a yoga teacher at Kripalu. “Your yoga mat is your science lab in experimenting with your body’s movements.”

Organ transplants

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

Printed in the Republican 2019

In September of 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights received a complaint that an individual with intellectual disabilities was denied a heart transplant. A doctor at the University of North Carolina Health Care system claimed the person was not a good candidate due to their developmental learning disability and because the person was not independent.
The issue was resolved through negotiation by the three parties involved, with the end result of the patient being placed on an organ transplant list while UNC Health Care will change its policy on organ transplants. The director of the Civil Rights off for HHS, said, “Every life is precious and no one should be blocked from access to an organ transplant because of stereotypes about persons with disabilities. It is also against the law.”
However, UNC Healthcare asserts that it had not engaged in wrongdoing, stating that “UNC Health Care has not denied any patient access to transplant because of that individual’s disability status, nor was there any finding by OCR that we did so.”
According to the Washington Post, many organ transplant decisions are made by individual doctors. Oftentimes, people with disabilities are left off the transplant list because of how doctors view disabilities.