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Archive for April, 2021

Crip Camp

Monday, April 26th, 2021

published in the Republican May 2021

Nicole Newnham and James LeBrecht produced a documentary titled Crip Camp, which was released on Netflix last March.  It is about the disability revolution, and was nominated for an Oscar Award.  Even though it didn’t win, the disability community still sees it as a win because it received recognition.
The documentary is based on Camp Jened, starting in 1971.  The camp in New York was considered to be a free spirited camp designed for kids with disabilities.  It focuses on campers who turned themselves into activists for the disability rights movement.
The camp originally started in 1951 but didn’t get involved in the disability rights movement until 1971.  The camp empowered political and social discussion about accessibility issues and how to be more independent in their communities.
The documentary has empowered people to learn more about the disability movement.  It gave voice to people with disabilities through their experiences.  One camper, Judy Heumann, said, “We spent our time at Camp Jened envisioning a world that was not set up in a way that excluded us.  We started to have a common vision and ask our own questions, like ‘Why are we denied an education?  Why is there no captioning for deaf people or audio descriptions for blind people and no access to public transportation?’  We came away from the camp knowing we wanted to make changes in society and recognizing lessons from the civil rights movement where people spoke on their own behalf to rectify injustice.”

Aging parents

Monday, April 12th, 2021

published in the Republican April 2021

As parents of intellectual and developmental disabilities grow older, they have many concerns about their adult child’s future. Many feel that the quality of support may go down once the parent is gone.
Many parents also feel that their child will be socially isolated and alone in the world with no support. There are also concerns that the adult child will end up in a place where they don’t want to be, such as a nursing home. A large majority fear that the child will be abused, neglected or financially exploited.

Researchers at Eastern Michigan University published a study in the medical journal Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. 320 parents over the age of 50 were surveyed. They were asked about their family situation, including the level of the child’s ability to communicate, socialize, and other behavioral issues.

The study found that behavioral issues were the biggest burden for caregivers, followed by daily living activities. Many caregivers also had concerns about their child’s independence, while a few reported physical violence to be a problem.

The study showed that there is a need for behavioral support programs where families can learn to plan for the future and help their child become more independent.

Writing

Monday, April 12th, 2021

published in the Republican April 2021

April has always been a month of reflection for me due to the anniversary of my column.  Over the years it has been a vehicle for my voice ranging from disability rights, personal experiences to self-help.  It is good to be reminded where it all began.

I have been writing in a journal every day since I was a little girl.  Whenever I was upset, my mom told me to write about why I was upset and after it was written there was no reason to be upset because it was in the past.

To this day I still follow that advice, feeling better after venting my feelings on paper.  It is like clearing your mind so you can see things in a new light.  Writing can also be a great way to brainstorm solutions to problems and track progress of resolutions.

Journaling can keep track of your goals, values and beliefs in your personal life.  In my journal I have pages where I have listed values and beliefs that I follow every day, like being happy, peaceful and positive.  I read this every day to keep me centered, focused and to remind myself of who I am.  Writing is a way of life for me.

Pilates

Monday, April 12th, 2021

published in the Republican April 2021

As someone with cerebral palsy, exercising can be very challenging.  Every day, I deal with stiff muscles and limited mobility.  I found Pilates to be a perfect companion to yoga since both are low impact.

My first experience with Pilates was the method Precision Toning by Jennifer Kries.  I really enjoyed this workout mainly because Jennifer took the time to teach proper form, which is especially important for someone who has physical limitations.

I had an opportunity to talk with Jennifer about Pilates and fitness.  Jennifer has been a ballet dancer since she was a young girl.  She took her first Pilates class at age thirteen.  At first, she was skeptical but her mother encouraged her to continue with it.  She was pleasantly surprised by how her dancing improved with Pilates.  It also helped her heal from dancing injuries.

Jennifer eventually began teaching Pilates and dancing where she was given the opportunity to create workout videos such as The Method Series and many others.  Jennifer’s philosophy is to connect to yourself while practicing mindfulness.  She empathizes the importance of loving yourself while using movement to cultivate positivity and joy.  Jennifer is inspired by mother’s advice of keeping your cup overflowing with love and happiness.

Starting this May, Jennifer is starting a new program called Turning Pain Into Gold.  The purpose is to embrace pain while growing from it through mind and body exercises to let go.  She will use techniques like meditation and journaling along with Pilates and dance to find a balance for herself.  Visit her site at http://www.jenniferkries.com