Monday, October 29, 2012

Got Voice?

Unique Bodies~Determined Souls will be reposting through October some of it's most popular blog chapters from the past year since its inception while on a hiatus. We will return with new blog chapters about the individuals we serve who are breaking free of limitations and their "disability" to express and live more fully in their "ability" within the community.

If you find these popular blog chapters touching and inspiring, please share with others who may enjoy knowing about Wendell Foster's Campus and the people we serve. And as always, thank you for reading!


Today’s blog chapter contains contributions from Karissa Riter, a speech therapist with Wendell Foster’s Campus’ outpatient facility for eleven years.

Imagine you cannot speak. You have no way to say what you need or want: a drink of water; food; that you hurt. You cannot verbally tell someone your name or ask anyone how he or she is doing. You must use another means of communication, perhaps gestures or sign language; or maybe it’s a language all your own, developed between you and your caretaker or family member over the years. You may even be able to write it down, but what if you have cerebral palsy? You may be unable to do so. Perhaps you use body language, such as gestures; but what if you can’t move any part of your body?

First, you’d have to gain someone’s attention; remember, you can’t speak and you have limited movement. You may be able to vocalize with a loud sound from the throat that may sound like a cry or yell which should gain a caregiver’s attention. Oh, and you communicate only through eye movement to answer “yes” or “no” questions; eyes/eyebrows looking up means “yes” and eyes/eyebrows looking down means “no.” The caregiver comes over, and so begins the twenty, thirty, fifty questions that become part of the guessing game to figuring out what you need or want. Do you want to talk about hygiene? “No.” Do you want to talk about activities? “No.”Do you want to talk about food and drink?” “Yes!” Progress! Well, yes and no, because now we start a new game of twenty plus questions as the caregiver goes through the list of food and drink items until s/he guesses the correct one to generate a “yes.”
 
Do you think that would be frustrating or aggravating? Would your patience be tried? For someone who doesn’t have a voice of his or her own, it would indeed. Meet Denise.

Denise arrived to Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC) in 2008 after living in Texas where she still has family. An Owensboro native, Denise returned home to be closer to her sister and nephews. She arrived to WFC lying in a wheelchair on her stomach; she literally faces the world head on every day! Denise’s only communication: eye gazes indicating “yes” and “no” responses. She’d never told her nephews or any of her family members that she loved them. Karissa Riter, her speech therapist, first met Denise through a video which was provided from Denise’s previous residential home in Texas. Karissa’s first concern anytime she meets a new patient is “how do they communicate?” Through this video, she learned about Denise’s eye gazes, but also that she had a communication book which required assistance from her communication partner. When all else failed, Denise would wear a head band with a laser pointer attached and point to the object which she trying to communicate in the book. Tiring. Frustrating. Time-consuming.

Denise let Karissa know upon her arrival what she wanted: an easier way to communicate. Communication devices were available but to operate it, one uses a finger or knuckle to press a menu panel to select the topic or phrase desired to activate the device to “speak” the selection aloud. Because of the unique wheelchair design and Denise’s severely limited mobility, creativity was required so she could access a communication device that didn’t require touch to make it talk for her. A unique new device became available shortly after Denise’s arrival to WFC. This device contained a built-in camera that scans the user’s eyes which maneuvers a mouse on its screen. If there was a body part Denise could control and use the best, it was her eyes! Suddenly, her communication possibilities are limitless!

Denise took to her communication device like a duck to water! She tells anyone who’ll listen about her family and how she feels. Denise socializes to find out what you’ve been up to, how the weekend was, and even shares the latest Campus gossip. And the jokes! An outgoing and fun gal, Denise even expresses her wicked sense of humor through her device. She even volunteers reading to local elementary students, and now, says to her nephews “I love you.”

Denise’s personality shines brightly through her newfound “voice,”a beautiful spirit she shares freely with everyone she meets. Through my few observations, I enjoy the opportunity to meet and get to know her better.
We want to hear from you! Please share your responses and comments by clicking below on “Comment” – you may post them anonymously or using your gmail.com profile name.

“The educated do not share a common body of information, but a common state of mind.” ~Mason Cooley Please share our blog with others via Facebook, Twitter, or email! Follow our blog! Click on “Join our Site” below.

Blog content is copyrighted property of Wendell Foster’s Campus for Development Disabilities and Carolyn Smith Ferber and/or other blog authors). Content may be used, duplicated or reprinted only with the expressed authorization of the Wendell Foster’s Campus. Permission for use, duplication or reprints may be made to wfcampus.org@gmail.com.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Here Batter Batter!

Unique Bodies~Determined Souls will be reposting through October some of it's most popular blog chapters from the past year since its inception while on a hiatus. We will return with new blog chapters about the individuals we serve who are breaking free of limitations and their "disability" to express and live more fully in their "ability" within the community.

If you find these popular blog chapters touching and inspiring, please share with others who may enjoy knowing about Wendell Foster's Campus and the people we serve. And as always, thank you for reading!



“Play Ball!” Nick announced upon arrival to his physical therapy (PT) session at the Green Therapy Pavilion he’d signed up to play T-ball this summer and is ready to take the field! Previous PT sessions included teaching and even practicing T-ball skills.


Now, listen, I watched my nephews play T-ball. They approached the T-stand bat in hand to swing at the ball sitting on the tee. Chaos ensues as a dozen or more four to six-year-olds run around in utter confusion. Watching Nick practice with Sue, his physical therapist, made me realize there’s more to T-ball than what I just described if kiddos are coached well. More importantly in Nick’s case, he must understand how to handle himself physically in order to prepare for the physical demands of the sport.

Previously, Nick ran the bases in a haphazard direction within “our playing field.” After showing him once how to run the correct sequence of bases from first around to home plate, Nick had it down after a trial run. In today’s session, we work on new facets of the game. As Mimi comes up to bat, Sue shows Nicholas how to prepare as an outfielder for the batter’s hit: head up, keep eyes on the batter, and knees slightly bent to be on the ready to go after the ball. This effort facilitates the management of his balance challenges. For weeks, Sue has been working with Nicholas to squat v. sit on his knees during activities. I recently learned that only two years earlier, Nicholas couldn’t walk without holding someone’s hand! Today, he not only walks without assistance, he runs! Once again awe-struck, I’m convinced of the power of early therapeutic intervention. Nick manages his crouching position well as he defends his field position; although by the end of our “game,” Nick’s showing signs of tiring, and becomes a little less diligent about the mechanics. The practice helps him build his stamina and strength.

Another facet of play involves being a team player. I remember T-ball kids letting the ball go by them, getting the ball and hanging on to it, and/or throwing the ball in a direction that made no sense to the play in motion. Yes, they were four-, five- and six-year-olds, but I don’t sense Nick will be one of those kids. If anything, Nicholas will most likely be giving orders like a team manager about what to do! Sue teaches Nicholas to throw the ball to another team player who is closer to the base runner so that person can tag him out. Previously, our play involved Nick or any one of us chasing the base runner around the bases. This new technique builds Nick’s coordination and throwing precision. We practice team work. Mimi makes the hit and Nick throws the ball to Sue who attempts to tag Mimi out. We practice this play several times as each of us take our turn at bat.
More significantly, Nicholas catches the ball. An earlier PT session involved bouncing a larger ball to Nick for him to catch. Cerebral palsy (CP) sometimes causes a movement pattern called extensor tone, causing the individual to respond in a reflexive stiffening reaction to touch. In Nick’s case, he jerkily recoils whenever anything comes towards his face or body. Nick struggles to catch the large ball the first few times, rearing his head and sometimes, his whole body backward in this extensor tone response. Sue directs him to keep his head down and eyes on the ball as he catches it. Mimi and I chuckle as Nick intently follows Sue’s instructions by lowering his head down, eyes to the floor as he waits to catch the ball rather than upon catching it. Eventually, Nicholas masters the move, and with time, that CP reaction will work itself out to become more manageable. It takes baby steps and I have no doubt Nick will get there.

Back to the game at hand: The T-ball comes to me, and I pass it off to Nicholas so he may tag Sue for the out since he’s closer to her. Viola! Nicholas catches the small ball easily and makes the out!! In another play, he gets the ball and passes it off to Mimi who makes the out. All three of us cheer, remarking how well he did at passing and catching the ball - very focused and controlled to its intended recipient. And his catches were without a mitt! Adding the mitt to this process will be another next step in Nick’s readiness for T-ball.

Miss Sue and I can’t wait to watch him play T-ball this summer on the field! We may witness chaos of which Nicholas may contribute, but we’ll be proud to witness his T-ball goal manifest.

We want to hear from you! Please share your responses and comments by clicking below on “Comment” – you may post them anonymously or using your gmail.com profile name.

“The educated do not share a common body of information, but a common state of mind.” ~Mason Cooley
Please share our blog with others via Facebook, Twitter, or email! Follow our blog! Click on “Join our Site” below.

Blog content is copyrighted property of Wendell Foster’s Campus for Development Disabilities and Carolyn Smith Ferber and/or other blog authors). Content may be used, duplicated or reprinted only with the expressed authorization of the Wendell Foster’s Campus. Permission for use, duplication or reprints may be made to wfcampus.org@gmail.com.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Chucky Cheese or BUST!

Unique Bodies~Determined Souls will be reposting through October some of it's most popular blog chapters from the past year since its inception while on a hiatus. We will return with new blog chapters about the individuals we serve who are breaking free of limitations and their "disability" to express and live more fully in their "ability" within the community.

If you find these popular blog chapters touching and inspiring, please share with others who may enjoy knowing about Wendell Foster's Campus and the people we serve. And as always, thank you for reading!


When I first meet Nicholas, he’s helping Sue Carder, a physical therapist with Wendell Foster’s Campus’ (WFC) outpatient rehab facility (CORF), make copies by pushing the “copy” button on the machine. Sue introduces me to Nicholas, telling him that I will be observing him
in his physical therapy (PT) sessions. Upon introduction, I offer my hand to Nick, which he takes and asks if my name is Carolyn, as if he’s logging the information in a databank. In this first exchange I notice Nick’s speech impairment. His grandmother Mimi stands close by and “translates” his slurred pronunciation to be sure I understood what he asked. Sometimes you can make out what he’s saying, other times not so much. I learn Nick also takes speech therapy which follows his PT appointment, and thus, I am invited to observe both therapy sessions for a few weeks.
Sue has worked as a physical therapist for thirty-two years, fourteen of those with CORF. Before clients start therapy, evaluations are conducted to assess their abilities and challenges, to discuss client and/or family goals they seek to achieve through therapy, and then to develop a plan. Nicholas began physical therapy at CORF three years ago. At this time, he wore braces on his legs that helped support him in standing. He couldn’t walk without them or without holding on to someone’s hand or something. Today, Nicholas wears no braces (removed in 2011) and walks, even runs without any assistance!

Nicholas is an amazing little boy with a charming personality. Despite all odds, he has overcome a great deal to be the active little boy with determined goals to play T-ball in the spring and eating a meal at Chucky Cheese one day. Nicholas’ curiosity easily distracts him during his physical therapy sessions. Active and ready to go, he’s eager to learn, to do, and to be. A country boy that likes to keep up with his big brother Jake, Nicholas abounds with energy, never one for sitting still. He believes he can do anything despite his physiological challenges, and doesn’t shy from trying. Nick is sociable and confident enough to do anything, including selling candy bars to women who are on Weight Watchers! Nicholas seems to want to take on the world.

Some of Nick’s physical challenges include balance and coordination, especially when it comes to climbing stairs and playground ladders. Nicholas exudes greater confidence in his ability to do so than we adults watching him as he tackles Sensory Park’s Jungle Gym. His PT goals include: keeping his ankles limber as he grows; further strengthening his leg muscles; greater endurance in running, and; coordination and control in throwing and hitting a T-ball. All the goals are in effort to physically integrate these typical childhood movements in facilitation towards their being effortless and automatic. Because of his physical challenges, the process of early intervention in therapy is like “rewiring” or reconnecting the brain’s communication of what Nicholas wants his body to do with the part of his body with which he wants to do it. With consistent practice, focus, and repetition, Nicholas incorporates into his physical presentation some movements that are closer to what’s natural to children his own age without developmental issues. He will always be physically challenged, but PT’s ultimate goal is that he functions with little impairment to the best of his physiological ability.

In my first observation, Sue begins by stretching Nicholas’feet and ankles to ensure limberness as they continue to grow. It also provides a good warm up for his physical activities. Knowing Nicholas wants to play T-ball this spring, Sue purchased a T-ball stand, bat and a ball for the young budding baseball player of tomorrow. The Green Therapy Pavilion has a large open space in the center of the building that connects all the therapy areas: speech, occupational, hydro- and physical therapy. Also in this area is a basketball goal. Yeah, it’s that big!

Sue tells Nicholas she has a surprise, and pulls out the T-ball equipment. He becomes very excited as the prospect of playing T-ball becomes more real to him. We move to the large open space to set up the equipment to continue the therapy session.

And it’s here we will “Play Ball!” Yes, even me, ever the “observer.”

We want to hear from you! Please share your responses and comments by clicking below on “Comment” – you may post them anonymously or using your gmail.com profile name.
“The educated do not share a common body of information, but a common state of mind.” ~Mason Cooley
Please share our blog with others via Facebook, Twitter, or email! Follow our blog! Click on “Join our Site” below.

Blog content is copyrighted property of Wendell Foster’s Campus for Development Disabilities and Carolyn Smith Ferber and/or other blog authors). Content may be used, duplicated or reprinted only with the expressed authorization of the Wendell Foster’s Campus. Permission for use, duplication or reprints may be made to wfcampus.org@gmail.com.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Against All Odds

Unique Bodies~Determined Souls will be reposting through October some of it's most popular blog chapters from the past year since its inception while on a hiatus. We will return with new blog chapters about the individuals we serve who are breaking free of limitations and their "disability" to express and live more fully in their "ability" within the community.

If you find these popular blog chapters touching and inspiring, please share with others who may enjoy knowing about Wendell Foster's Campus and the people we serve. And as always, thank you for reading!


Meet Nicholas. Hewas born under the worst possible circumstances. All ultrasounds were normal, including the one they did the day of his premature birth. Seven months into her pregnancy, Nicholas’s mom suddenly experienced a uterine rupture, a life threatening event for baby and mom. Fortunately, both survived but Nicholas went without oxygen for approximately two minutes during the emergency delivery, an oxygen deficit causing brain damage, and ultimately, cerebral palsy.

The severity of Nicholas’ oxygen deficit became quickly evident. Doctors immediately performed a tracheotomy to assist with his breathing. When he wasn’t swallowing, a belly feeding tube was inserted so he could be fed. Nicholas was taken to an Evansville hospital’s neo-natal care unit for more intensive care for his medical needs. He wasn’t expected to survive.

Once he proved doctors wrong, Nicholas wasn't expected to function like a normal little boy. He moved his arms and legs very little. Even upon initial assessment by his medical team, they felt all physical abilities would be severely limited and he’d be dependent on others for the rest of his life. Nicholas would remain in the hospital for seven weeks. Mom and Dad were the only ones allowed to visit and hold him. Nick’s older brother had to wait almost two months before meeting his little brother up close and personal.

Fortunately, early intervention with physical therapy began before Nicholas even left the Evansville hospital as nurses gently moved and worked his motionless arms and legs. After coming home, therapy continued through First Steps, a Kentucky Early Intervention Services program offered through Green River District Health Department. This program provides services to children, birth to 3 years old with developmental delays or established risk diagnosis and who are in need of intervention. Intervention services offered for children include evaluations and assessments and physical, speech and occupational therapies as well as developmental intervention therapy.

When he was almost one year old, Nicholas began speech therapy through the First Steps Program with a Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC) therapist specializing in eating and swallowing challenges. When “Miss Michelle” met Nicholas, he still had his tracheal tube in, and as others did before her, she thought he’d live with severe physical limitations. Nick could not hold his own head up for long, and he couldn’t sit up or maintain balance without help. He continued to have physical and speech therapies at home until he turned three, at which time he started coming to WFC’s Green Therapy Pavilion for therapy.

Three years later, I am graced with the blessing to meet this little boy and his family during my therapy observations. And upon meeting Nicholas, and hearing his story, I’m left scratching my head and questioning: Could they possibly be talking about the same little boy?

In observing Nick’s physical and speech therapies, I come to better understand the power of early therapeutic intervention in helping children diagnosed with developmental issues overcome severe limitations.
We want to hear from you! Please share your responses and comments by clicking below on “Comment” – you may post them anonymously or using your gmail.com profile name.

“The educated do not share a common body of information, but a common state of mind.” ~Mason Cooley
Please share our blog with others via Facebook, Twitter, or email! Follow our blog! Click on “Join our Site” below.

 


Blog content is copyrighted property of Wendell Foster’s Campus for Development Disabilities and Carolyn Smith Ferber and/or other blog authors). Content may be used, duplicated or reprinted only with the expressed authorization of the Wendell Foster’s Campus. Permission for use, duplication or reprints may be made to wfcampus.org@gmail.com.


Monday, October 15, 2012

A Softball Great Goes Down

Unique Bodies~Determined Souls will be reposting through October some of it's most popular blog chapters from the past year since its inception while on a hiatus. We will return with new blog chapters about the individuals we serve who are breaking free of limitations and their "disability" to express and live more fully in their "ability" within the community.

If you find these popular blog chapters touching and inspiring, please share with others who may enjoy knowing about Wendell Foster's Campus and the people we serve. And as always, thank you for reading!


Once upon a time, I was “prescribed” physical therapy (PT) thanks to a softball injury.

Flashback to 1995. I made a great hit off a low slow pitch, and as I headed to first, BAM! My right leg fell out from underneath me; I hobbled in excruciating pain the rest of the way to base. I later learned I pulled, possibly tore the major set of muscles in my thigh, including the groin. The doctor told me PT was my best bet to recover the strength and flexibility while healing. In my first PT appointment, they put me on a treadmill to walk. Um, how will that help? I wondered, but I didn’t ask, I just did what I was told. After fifteen minutes, I’m then asked to do another ten, only this time, walk backwards, at a really slow pace. Say what? Again, I did what I was told. I never asked and they never volunteered the info to me. My physical therapy lasted three sessions, and I considered it a waste of time. So upon arriving at PT for my observation, I admit I had skepticism. Some folks with developmental disabilities can’t walk, I thought to myself, what will they do since they can’t do the treadmill?

Meet Jim, my first PT client observation who works with Ryan Kizer, a physical therapist in our comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facility (CORF). Jim lives in one of four handicapped-accessible rental homes sitting on the periphery of and owned by Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC). I first see Jim slowly moving himself into the physical therapy area in his wheelchair using one hand and his feet. As I watch him, I am reminded how I take for granted my own mobility, agility, and ability to do so much. I’m generally a grateful person, but since starting at WFC, that gratitude has deepened daily for all that I have and am physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. As in Jim’s case, it can all be taken away from you in an instant.

At the young age of 34, Jim suffered a broken neck and severe head trauma in a car accident while living in San Francisco. His injuries left him in a coma for two days. Jim’s head injury and its resulting effect can be seen in his face and cranial area; you can also hear its impact on his speech which is understandable with great effort on Jim’s part, but slurred. From the hospital he moved into a rehabilitation facility for six months where he received physical, occupational and speech therapy. He returned to Kentucky in 1984 but had no therapy since his return. Jim moved into his Campus home three and a half years ago, and began physical therapy in June 2011. By the time I arrive to observe in January 2012, he’s been in PT for approximately six months. Upon introductions, Ryan explains who I am and why I’m there, and Jim graciously agrees to my observation of his PT sessions. Jim appears as a mild-mannered man, with a dry sense of humor evident during his therapy.

Jim’s therapy differs drastically from my own personal experience; but then I didn’t have the same physical challenges to overcome as Jim does. In hindsight, I realize what a cry-baby I was when I had my leg injury. Yes, it hurt terribly and I hobbled for a few days, but it was a big deal because I made it a big deal, when in fact, it was simply an inconvenience, temporary at that. With Jim’s blessing, I will watch Ryan put him through a physical ringer of a PT workout over several sessions as they work together towards Jim’s physical goals. And no treadmills were involved.

Upon starting PT with Ryan, Jim hadn’t walked with a walker in twenty-eight years; therefore, his legs were weakened. In addition to strengthening muscles, Jim wants to easily transfer himself from his wheelchair to a couch, bed or toilet. His head injury also impacted his perceptual awareness of his body and balance, creating challenges in his efforts to stand and walk. These are a few of the issues Jim and Ryan began addressing upon starting PT twice a week last June.

I soon will learn how amazing the human body is, how determined the soul can be, and how powerful physical therapy is as a treatment in overcoming physical challenges.

We want to hear from you! Please share your responses and comments by clicking below on “Comment” – you may post them anonymously or using your gmail.com profile name.

“The educated do not share a common body of information, but a common state of mind.” ~Mason Cooley
Please share our blog with others via Facebook, Twitter, or email! Follow our blog! Click on “Join our Site” below.

Blog content is copyrighted property of Wendell Foster’s Campus for Development Disabilities and Carolyn Smith Ferber and/or other blog authors). Content may be used, duplicated or reprinted only with the expressed authorization of the Wendell Foster’s Campus. Permission for use, duplication or reprints may be made to wfcampus.org@gmail.com.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Campus Cool Cats Be-Bop

Unique Bodies~Determined Souls will be reposting through October some of it's most popular blog chapters from the past year since its inception while on a hiatus. We will return with new blog chapters about the individuals we serve who are breaking free of limitations and their "disability" to express and live more fully in their "ability" within the community.

If you find these popular blog chapters touching and inspiring, please share with others who may enjoy knowing about Wendell Foster's Campus and the people we serve. And as always, thank you for reading!


Volunteer groups generously share their time, energy and talents with the people of Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC). For example, local church groups from differing denominations come two or more Sundays a month to offer Sunday worship service in the Young Building. One young group of children from Hastings Early Learning School on Tamarack Road volunteered to collect Christmas gifts for residents living in our Centre Pointe Cottages. This effort means a great deal for those who have families living out of state or who have no family at all. The Choir from Sts. Joseph and Paul Catholic Church came to perform their Cantata. After the holidays were over, I wondered if all the generosity would end, but thankfully, it seems to get better and better!

In January, many smiles and great fun was enjoyed thanks to Dr. Diane Earle and her Kentucky Wesleyan College (KWC) History of Rock and Roll class students who hosted a “Sock Hop.” When I learned of this group’s scheduled visit, I scratched my head, as usual, in skepticism. Will those in attendance watch these students dance or will they dance themselves? I’m not na├»ve; I’ve seen movies in which a woman dances with her man in a wheelchair gracefully around a dance floor. I also knew that where there’s a will there’s a way, so I never thought it was impossible. I just wondered how this event would be handled, what the students would do, and how our folks would participate. As always, the people we serve at Wendell Foster’s Campus never cease to amaze me, and I just LOVE that about them!

Dr. Earle and her students gathered before their audience to discuss famous historical dances that reflect the history of rock and roll, including the Twist, the LocoMotion, and the Limbo. The Sock Hop opened with a universal favorite, “Y-M-C-A”. When the music started, several WFC folks became excited, obviously a favorite among this crowd! As the chorus began, Campus Peeps motioned, if not succinctly, the spelling of the song title’s letters. I got a kick watching them get into the song as they expended their best effort. “Perfection” is relative, anyway. The KWC students next demonstrated how to do the Twist, and soon, we were rocking to Chubby Checker’s “The Twist.” Again, a crowd pleaser, so much so that Wayne stood from his wheelchair to do the Twist! I had no idea he could stand up! With a little support from his Direct Support Provider (DSP), Wayne did Chubby proud! But the fun was only getting started.

The Limbo was explained: you know, a pole horizontally held by two people at each end while someone with the slight and contorted backward bend moves under it while maintaining balance. I’m busy taking pictures of the group enjoying the party when I turn back to the Limbo action to see my gal-pal Greta wheeling her way under that Limbo stick. Upon clearing it, she stops for her moment of triumph and gives a thumbs-up to the audience who responded with cheers! What a hoot! A local newspaper photographer was there and he prattled on about how awesome he thought Greta was. Before I knew it, several of the residents were doing the limbo!

The Sock Hop closed with the LocoMotion, and just when I thought I’d laughed as hard as I could, our Campus Cool Cats outdid themselves by doing a conga-line about the Young Building. With KWC students in the lead, Butch, one of our more gregarious residents, fell in behind them. Then DSP’s rolled residents into the line, and those with electric wheelchairs joined in. The entire line weaved all about like a snake moving through a yard. Everyone, students, adults, Campus folks, guests, board members, and staff were all smiles. Those on their feet kicked their legs left and right with the beat, those in wheelchairs moved their arms left and right with the beat. It was really cool to see these guys and gals get into the music! I videotaped this dance and it makes me smile every time I see it. As this event unfolded, joy lifted my soul, tears welled from laughing so hard, and a smile stuck to my face all day. I’m willing to bet those who participated, volunteers and Campus Cats, got a little something out of it too. Dr. Earle and her students did a great job engaging their audience, encouraging their efforts, and interacting with them through music and dance.

It comforts and warms my heart to see our gang living life, enjoying life, and experiencing life and what all it has to offer, in this case, dance and music. Volunteer groups, like that of Dr. Earle and her KWC students, give the gift of their time, their energy and their effort to those we serve at WFC so they may thrive, and well, in this case, bee-bop in life!!

We want to hear from you! Please share your responses and comments by clicking below on “Comment” – you may post them anonymously or using your gmail.com profile name.
“The educated do not share a common body of information, but a common state of mind.” ~Mason Cooley
Please share our blog with others via Facebook, Twitter, or email! Follow our blog! Click on “Join our Site” below.

Blog content is copyrighted property of Wendell Foster’s Campus for Development Disabilities and Carolyn Smith Ferber and/or other blog authors). Content may be used, duplicated or reprinted only with the expressed authorization of the Wendell Foster’s Campus. Permission for use, duplication or reprints may be made to wfcampus.org@gmail.com.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Painting the Town Red

Unique Bodies~Determined Souls will be reposting through October some of it's most popular blog chapters from the past year since its inception while on a hiatus. We will return with new blog chapters about the individuals we serve who are breaking free of limitations and their "disability" to express and live more fully in their "ability" within the community.

If you find these popular blog chapters touching and inspiring, please share with others who may enjoy knowing about Wendell Foster's Campus and the people we serve. And as always, thank you for reading!


Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC) is very blessed in many ways beyond the holiday season. Members of the community and various groups bring their skills, talents and gifts to share with those we serve. Through a variety of event offerings, the individuals who live on our Campus enjoy the opportunity to try new things, challenge and expand their abilities, have fun and be a part of all that we enjoy in our community throughout the year.
One of the first events held at the Campus after my arrival was a theatrical production of “The Helping Hoof”, presented by the theater department of Kentucky Wesleyan College (KWC). In full costume, the students performed this simple theatrical piece for their audience. Bringing such activities like “The Helping Hoof” to our Campus makes it convenient for WFC individuals, especially when health/medical challenges makes going out difficult or impossible. Many of those who live on Campus work, have a number of therapy or doctor’s appointments, or other things they do, so not everyone can attend these events. They also have a choice to attend or not, just like you and I have a choice to attend any activity or event in the community.

Most get out in the community, and WFC strongly encourages this effort. For example, a volunteer Community Companion took someone out to a local ball game at Owensboro’s Sportscenter. One time, a local banker attending a sporting event at the Sportscenter noticed a few of our WFC peeps in attendance. The next morning, he called my supervisor to say he saw them at the game and how distracting they were. Uncertain, my supervisor listened as the banker explained he had more fun watching them enjoy the game with each other and their Direct Support Providers (DSP) than the game itself! He noted they appeared to be a group of friends having a good time rather than three “WFC clients” with staff members standing by.

Yes, getting out, engaging and connecting within our community is important; after all, these individuals are a part of our community too.   Jenny (above right) wanted to celebrate her twenty-first birthday like every other young adult wants to mark such a monumental life event. So, she had a girls’ night out in which a few staff members joined her (on their personal time) to take her out for dinner at Texas Roadhouse and then, dancing at a local club. I ran into several folks from our Supports for Community Living program strolling through Legion Park enjoying the Christmas lights display. Even a few go down to the Eight Ball and enjoy breakfast, or a beer.

Brad loves to ride a Rifton Tricycle around the building. This three-wheeled adult bike is a physical therapy tool facilitating exercise and range of motion in the hip and legs. There’s plenty of room to ride around the Campus building hallways and grounds, but wouldn’t you want to hit the “open road” with a “new set of wheels?” With one phone call to a Campus supporter who belongs to a local Owensboro cycling club, arrangements were made for Brad to ride with the group on the Green Belt. A man. A “trike”. The open road. Brad is a different person when he’s riding, free and fulfilled.

Hugh E. Sandefur Industries is a non-profit organization out of Henderson, KY with a satellite facility on our Campus. They offer individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities employment development and opportunities, job placement as well as work and social skills. Each year they host a Christmas party in Henderson, which includes a DJ and a dance floor. Several of our Campus peeps who work at the Owensboro location gussied up and headed to Henderson to dance the night away. Rumor has it they cut a serious rug that night.

I recently was talking to an older relative about how many of the individuals we serve get out and about in the community; she was surprised to hear they even leave our Campus! Many think those we serve can't and don't, believing they wouldn’t enjoy the many things you and I enjoy. But they do, and do they ever! They enjoy music, sports, and shopping, looking at Christmas lights, dancing, socializing and eating out. Just like you and me.

When we can bring the fun, dancing and music to them on Campus, we welcome it; but we encourage and facilitate participation in life outside of Campus – to live their lives in their community, just like you and I do.

We want to hear from you! Please share your responses and comments by clicking below on “Comment” – you may post them anonymously or using your gmail.com profile name.

“The educated do not share a common body of information, but a common state of mind.” ~Mason Cooley
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Blog content is copyrighted property of Wendell Foster’s Campus for Development Disabilities and Carolyn Smith Ferber and/or other blog authors). Content may be used, duplicated or reprinted only with the expressed authorization of the Wendell Foster’s Campus. Permission for use, duplication or reprints may be made to wfcampus.org@gmail.com.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cindy Loo Hoo & Me

Unique Bodies~Determined Souls will be reposting through October some of it's most popular blog chapters from the past year since its inception while on a hiatus. We will return with new blog chapters about the individuals we serve who are breaking free of limitations and their "disability" to express and live more fully in their "ability" within the community.

If you find these popular blog chapters touching and inspiring, please share with others who may enjoy knowing about Wendell Foster's Campus and the people we serve. And as always, thank you for reading!
 

My first Christmas with Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC) warmed my heart as I witnessed the many blessings lavished on our Campus and those we serve. I have personally felt ambivalent about Christmas for several years, especially since my mother’s passing. I weary of the rampant commercialism and maddening chaos around it, feeling Cindy Lou Hoo’s pain in “The Grinch" as she wonders, Where are you Christmas? I never expected Christmas with WFC would open, fill and instill my heart with faith that Christmas in its truest meaning does exist! Christmas 2011 was the most memorable Christmas I’ve had since my return to Owensboro.

Sts. Joseph and Paul Church kick-started our Campus community’s holiday spirit with a choir performance. Unable to attend their Christmas Cantata, I heard it was moving and festive for the audience that packed the Young Building. Afterwards, the choir took requests and sang traditional Christmas songs, encouraging their Campus audience to join them, which several did.

Campus festivities continued with an employee Christmas party which included special guests, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, on hand to meet and greet their fans, young and old. My Inner Child squealed with glee to see Santa, especially when he said hello and shook my hand! Watching other co-workers’children and grandchildren visit with Santa was a treat as they looked at the Jolly Old Man with eyes filled of wonder and awe.

WFC employees perform an annual tradition of singing Christmas carols around Campus. Each year, administrative staff and a few board members warm up rusty vocal chords in preparation to sing holiday carols to Campus residents. I loved caroling as a child but as an adult could never find grownups willing to engage in this time-honored tradition with me. I eagerly volunteered to participate and while I’m not the best singer in the world, I can carry a tune. Feeling the nip of the “Bah Humbug”, I decided sharing my warbling voice would shift my mood, never mind doing something special to dissipate the holiday blahs others may be feeling this time of year.

Our small group of carolers visited each Centre Pointe cottage, gathering in the TV area where folks congregated to listen. More exciting to me was hearing a few of the Cottage residents join along in song! Despite his verbal challenge, John joined us, hitting with resounding enthusiasm the last one or two words of each line we sang. His participation moved me, bringing tears to my eyes as I watched him revel in the spirit and joy of song. His spirited effort outshined our group’s efforts combined. It'd be cool if he joined us next year for the caroling!

From the cottages we moved to the Supports for CommunityLiving (SCL) houses where we caroled in front yards or inside living rooms, depending on the occupants' preference. Once again, others joined us, including Mark, Mary, and even Butch who accompanied us on tambourine! It was awesome, and their chiming in with us in song simultaneously surprised and thrilled me. I am truly in awe by the countless abilities of the people we serve!

While I was the caroler lifting others' spirits that afternoon, it was my spirit that was lifted by our Campus members. These beautiful souls resuscitated my belief in Christmas and its spirit of love and the sharing of heart. Oh, and Cindy Lou Hoo, Christmas can be found at Wendell Foster’s Campus.

We want to hear from you! Please share your responses and comments by clicking below on “Comment” – you may post them anonymously or using your gmail.com profile name.

“The educated do not share a common body of information, but a common state of mind.” ~Mason Cooley
Please share our blog with others via Facebook, Twitter, or email! Follow our blog! Click on “Join our Site” below.

Blog content is copyrighted property of Wendell Foster’s Campus for Development Disabilities and Carolyn Smith Ferber and/or other blog authors). Content may be used, duplicated or reprinted only with the expressed authorization of the Wendell Foster’s Campus. Permission for use, duplication or reprints may be made to wfcampus.org@gmail.com.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Angels Among Us

Unique Bodies~Determined Souls will be reposting through October some of it's most popular blog chapters from the past year since its inception while on a hiatus. We will return with new blog chapters about the individuals we serve who are breaking free of limitations and their "disability" to express and live more fully in their "ability" within the community.

If you find these popular blog chapters touching and inspiring, please share with others who may enjoy knowing about Wendell Foster's Campus and the people we serve. And as always, thank you for reading!



Each year, Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC) hosts a Christmas party for everyone who lives in our residential programs, eighty-plus people. Nothing is spared for this event which is spearheaded by Sarah Poole, Jennifer Owsley and staff from our amazing recreational department. A catered lunch by a local barbecue place is provided, and this year, diners were serenaded by the beautiful music of Randy Lanham and his musical students. Always a popular volunteer for WFC, Randy and his students bring their stringed instrumental music to our Campus, and it’s joyous to the ears. Each program participant also receives a couple of gifts to open; what’s a Christmas party without a gift to open! I enjoy this event as I blessedly capture the holiday festivity on camera. This event also provided me with a wonderful opportunity to meet many of these folks we serve for the very first time since starting two months earlier.

Unfortunately, many who we serve through our residential programs don’t have families, or they have families that live out of state. Some family members may visit a week or so before Christmas, while others spend Christmas day with their families. The holidays can be tough for anyone who has no family or feels disconnected from them. Sarah, Jennifer, and their staff work year-round to ensure no one on our Campus goes without a gift or a joyous holiday experience. They host several fundraisers and activities throughout the year to secure the funds for gift purchases for residents. Friday Lunch Canteens, a “yard sale”, recycling, and other such activities are but a few of the ways they raise money to make sure everyone has a gift to open, either at the party or on Christmas day. But it’s never enough. Our community’s generosity supports our staff’s efforts in this goal. For example, groups such as the preschool children of Hastings Early Learning School on Tamarack Road collected over seventy gifts this last holiday season. With this generosity, every person living on our Campus is assured to have a couple of gifts to open on Christmas morning, family or no family.

This year our Campus was touched by a Poinsettia Angel. A staff member shopping for poinsettias for our holiday parties at Walmart sought assistance from a store clerk, asking the maximum number of plants she could purchase. Upon return, the clerk asked how many she wanted, additionally asking if twenty-four would be enough. Our staff person said “sure” and they proceeded to pick the best looking poinsettias and load them up for purchase. As she headed to the register to pay, the clerk advised the poinsettias were already paid for by another Walmart shopper. It was their gift to our Campus.

WOW! On Wendell Foster’s Campus, the spirit of Santa Claus was alive and well. And being a part of it was the greatest gift I received this last Christmas; one of the most wonderful gifts I’ve received and felt in a long while. Witnessing such Christmas Spirit shared with our Campus restored my faith in humanity and validated for me what really matters amidst the chaos of the season. Yes, there’s always room for improvement for greater acceptance and respect within our community for the folks we serve. But the generous outpouring and kindness given outshined those less than stellar experiences of scorn and discrimination. That generosity brightened the lives of eighty plus individuals living on the Wendell Foster’s Campus, and one new employee.
We want to hear from you! Please share your responses and comments by clicking below on “Comment” – you may post them anonymously or using your gmail.com profile name.

“The educated do not share a common body of information, but a common state of mind.” ~Mason Cooley
Please share our blog with others via Facebook, Twitter, or email! Follow our blog! Click on “Join our Site” below.

Blog content is copyrighted property of Wendell Foster’s Campus for Development Disabilities and Carolyn Smith Ferber and/or other blog authors). Content may be used, duplicated or reprinted only with the expressed authorization of the Wendell Foster’s Campus. Permission for use, duplication or reprints may be made to wfcampus.org@gmail.com.