This is my Masterpiece

This is my Masterpiece

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Building Julia's All-Access Playground

How do we build an All-Access Playground in memory of Julia Hatcher? It starts with a vision of Julia and Gavin playing together on the sidewalk while all the other kids were playing on the playground: on slides, in tubes, up on platforms, climbing stairs, swinging from bars, steering wheels, looking through a bubble window. The other kids trudged through the bark to get to the playground -- this was a place Julia's walker wouldn't go -- so she and Gavin stayed behind. Then it takes a vision of Julia and Gavin playing in a bounce house where there were no barriers to over come (pictured several blogs ago). And pictures of Julia on her swing set her Grandpa Doumas modified. And pictures of Gavin overcoming obstacles to play (pictured here).

Then it takes asking the question, "What if we took down all the barriers?" What if we created a place where everyone could play? Ages from 2 to 92 could walk or roll or even crawl across safe surfacing to play with ground level equipment, roll up a ramp and transfer onto a slide. Spin a rainmaker that was both pleasing to the eyes and the ears, practice the signed alphabet and feel the braile alphabet, giggle at their image in a wavy mirror, sit and rest for a while at a quite tree-shaded, bench box while enjoying the scent of lavendar and rosemary.

Then it takes a lot of people saying yes... Mr. Mistlin, the City Council, Julia's amazing family and then a whole lot more saying yes I support this with their time and their money. It was amazing to see the support today for the yard sale... especially in this economy that so many people bought something and then said "keep the change; it's for a good cause." Thank you for believeing in this vision and for loving Julia so much. Let's "keep the change" and build a playground without barriers that everyone can access.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Save Services for Thousands of Kids

A week ago we were one of the thousands of families that got a letter letting us know the State of California is going to be canceling our services. To do this, lawmakers, without public input, amended a law on July 28th so they could take away services from people with developmental disabilities in a letter 5 days later. Further, they redefined the services as social and recreational rather than therapeutic which made these services seem frivolous. At the same time they delivered this blow to all the families served, not one pink slip was handed out... yeah you read that right... though none of the families will receive services they are still defined as clients so that money continues to provide jobs. Where but in government can you serve zero customers but still be guaranteed a job?

Gavin works with weights building strength, increases vestibular balance, proprioception, crossing the mid line, prepositional concepts, right and left, colors, alphabet, numbers, following directions, building confidence and self esteem while increasing physical and cognitive function. In the first photo he is working with weights to increase core strength. In the second photo he is counting. In the third photo he is doing a move called "baseball" and following this move he stands on the horse. Now I don't know about you but I don't know too many people that stand on a horse.

The handsome men you see with Gavin are his big brothers who have been volunteering every week for about six years.

Last night a reporter asked me what is so special about Equestrian Therapy... how is it different from other activities. My answer came without hesitation... for an hour a week Gavin doesn't have a disability.

Please help families like ours keep these services.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Meeting Friends at NDSC Convention of all ages

Out on the exhibition show floor we got to meet so many people. There was a huge play area, toys, bikes, swings, educational materials, books, art, shirts and so much information. It was great to fill our bags with goodies and share stories.

Dancing at NDSC

There is my handsome man shakin' it on the dance floor! Gotta love this cutie!

NDSC Convention

NDSC Convention was amazing. It was so fun to finally get all dressed up and go to the banquet. The room was packed with people just like us. That night we dined with over 900 friends. There are some tremendously talented people working to create a better tomorrow for people with DS and many of them were honored with awards. Then after super food and lots of applause everyone went jiggy on the dance floor. My little man and his two older brothers looked so handome -- really I could not be prouder of the trio! It was a fine evening.