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Hitting the Trails

Monday June 24, 2013

Mobility is always an issue when you have a physical disability and you enjoy the outdoors. There are so many things to consider, depending upon the terrain. Sandy beaches can cause stability problems, trails on a mountain can be intimidating, and some areas are simply inaccessible no matter what equipment you use. Personally, I use Nordic Ski Poles, which gives me the stability to walk on uneven ground and makes it much easier for me to walk up hills.

I recently came across Mountain Trike on FaceBook and was intrigued by the wheelchair design. This modified wheelchair can hit the trails, as well as the beach. Check them out on FB here: Mountain Trike.

There are also many other types of sports equipment and specialty chairs for the avid outdoorsman or woman. Check out the following articles for more information on adaptive equipment and sports:

NJ Prom for the Disabled Enjoyed by Attendees

Thursday June 20, 2013

When you think of prom night, do you remember anyone with disabilities attending the dance and festivities? Many individuals who are developmentally disabled and physically disabled do not attend their prom. For one group of individuals, however, their dream to attend prom came true on June 14, thanks to organizer Afrah M. Nyatome of National Institute for People with Disabilities. They were able to enjoy their special night out, which is a rite of passage for many young adults.

According to Ms. Nyatome in her interview on NorthJersey.com, "When we presented this idea to our clients, there was a spark of excitement and tears of joy. They never thought that this could ever happen for them. Now, they will get the chance that they always wanted," explained Nyatome. "Nobody does prom for people with disabilities. This never happens."

Read more about their event here: Prom for the Developmentally Disabled Held in Westwood

Sports for Disabled Children

Saturday June 15, 2013

Summer is here and most schools are already out. What are your children doing this summer? Will they be sitting in front of the television during the day or will they be outdoors enjoying the sunshine? There are numerous sports organizations and clubs that children can join. Some of the sports include wheelchair basketball, swimming, archery and table tennis, just to name a few. There are opportunities for children of all ages and ability levels, and many sports don't require expensive equipment or membership fees to participate.

To learn more about sports opportunities and clubs in your area, as well as a few tips to keep your child interested and motivated in their chosen sports, read the following:

2013 National Lupus Advocacy Summit

Sunday June 9, 2013

The Lupus Foundation of America's National Lupus Advocacy Summit will be held on June 24 and 25. The Advocacy Summit provides lupus activists from across the nation the opportunity to meet with their members of Congress in Washington, DC and to educate policy makers about lupus and public policies impacting people with lupus.

Due to overwhelming interest this year, registration for the event is now closed. However, to learn more about the event and other ways to advocate for individuals with lupus, contact Sara Chang at chang@lupus.org, or visit the Lupus Foundation website.

Severe Weather Season in Full Swing - Be Prepared

Tuesday June 4, 2013

The recent spate of tornadoes in Oklahoma has reminded many in the United States that being prepared for a disaster is very important. Unfortunately, many people wait until a disaster is fast approaching before springing into action. If you only have a few minutes to get to somewhere safe, how will you accomplish this, especially if you are in a wheelchair and have to rely on someone to assist you? What about your pets? How about your important papers? These are just a few considerations people should make when planning ahead for a disaster.

The following articles have tips and advice for getting your disaster plan in order before the next natural or man-made disaster hits. Making a disaster kit, for example, is one of the easiest things you can do for yourself or someone else. It doesn't take much time, and it can make a huge difference during an evacuation.

Disaster planning tips on Disability at About.com:

Nominations Now Being Accepted for 'Best Dad on Wheels'

Tuesday June 4, 2013

Individuals can begin nominating inspiring fathers living with paralysis with the submission form on ChristopherReeve.org/BestDad from June 3 until 11:59 p.m. ET on June 17 and can vote on the 10 finalists June 20 to June 30. The 4th Annual Best Dad on Wheels winner will be announced on or around July 3.

The 2012 Best Dad on Wheels winner was Steven Laux, 36, of Maple Grove, Minn. When he's not working full-time as a marketing manager, Laux is either volunteering or playing with his three daughters from his wheelchair.

May Article Roundup

Friday May 31, 2013

In case you missed these new articles, the following were posted on Disability at About.com this month:

Remembering our Fallen Heroes and their Families

Monday May 27, 2013

Here in New York we're enjoying a sunny day with warmer weather than we've had in the past week. Due to the nice weather, a large turn out came to our local high school for the Memorial Day festivities, which included some patriotic music from the high school band. After the program was over, many of us headed to the cemetery nearby to pay our respects to the men and women who have died serving their country, as well as to the many who were veterans of previous wars.

I noted that some of the graves hadn't been tended to for a while, though the cemetery was neatly mowed. After watching many of the older visitors I realized that they may not be able to tend to the graves due to disability and aging.

Many of the names on the gravestones are familiar to me, though I may not know the individuals personally. I'm aware of the problems their families may have keeping the weeds away from the headstones (kneeling is often difficult), or keeping the moss from growing on the stones (scrubbing stones with arthritic hands hurts). My husband and children helped to clear some of the weeds away and we're going to come back to try and clean the gravestones.

If you know of any family that cannot care for a grave due to a disability, or you simply see a neglected grave of one of our veterans, perhaps take a minute to help clear the weeds away. It is a small, meaningful gesture and it can mean a lot to someone who cannot care for a loved one's grave in the way they wish they could.

Military resources on Disability at About.com:

Veteran's Disability Claims Backlog Continues to Grow

Saturday May 25, 2013

Imagine that you are newly disabled and are trying to concentrate on getting better. Unfortunately, you have a growing pile of debts and collectors harassing you while you are trying to recover, making tensions rise within your home. Now imagine that you've been told that processing your claim may take a year or longer due to a government backlog in processing VA disability claims. Whether you are a disabled veteran or a civilian, the processing of disability claims within the U.S. government moves at a snail's pace. There is nothing that could make you feel less important, or neglected, than this incredibly inefficient process.

According to the Veteran's Administration, claims fell 8 percent between March 20 and May 9, 2013. The number of claims, however, is a staggering 538,679. The Obama administration states that the backlog will probably rise before it finally falls to zero in 2015. At that time, claims should be processed within 120 days.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, a Vietnam veteran, is working towards changing the process from a paperwork based system to an electronic one. Veterans, however, have heard this before and are skeptical that the promised expedited claims process will finally be working efficiently by 2015.

Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) stated in a recent press release that "After a decade of war, and despite the VA's efforts to modernize, more than 600,000 veterans are still stuck in the VA's disability claims backlog," Sens. Warner and Kaine wrote. "While the average wait time for first time disability claims currently ranges between 316 and 327 days, veterans in certain parts of the country are waiting even longer..... Solving this problem is critical for veterans of all generations. We need direct and public involvement from you to establish a clear plan to end the backlog once and for all."

Veterans and their families have suffered through the lengthy process while administrators at the VA have received performance bonuses. This has added insult to their injuries, and they, as well as many other Americans, are left to wonder why some are profiting from the stress inflicted on our war veterans. House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) introduced a measure that was passed on May 8, 2013, which would suspend VA performance bonuses for five years. While suspending the bonuses won't fix the problem, at least no one would benefit from a poorly run system that makes our wounded warriors suffer once they have returned home from the war front.

Diplomas at Risk for Students with Learning Disabilities

Saturday May 18, 2013

The National Center for Learning Disabilities reports that only 68 percent of students with specific learning disabilities graduated from high school in 2011. The NCLD is offering a copy of their report, Diplomas at Risk: A Critical Look at the Graduation Rate of Students with Learning Disabilities to individuals who register here: NCLD website.

Registrants will also have access to the Diplomas at Risk webinar. The information contained in the report and webinar is for parents, educators and policymakers.

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