Monday, September 29, 2014

The Class Reunion

Everyone becomes anxious about attending a high school reunion, but not Shelly. Graduation 1989 was the last time she saw her classmates. Thanks to Shelly’s active involvement in the Wendell Foster’s Campus No R Word campaign, Shelly got that chance.

“On our way to a school presentation, Shelly and I talked about her high school days, and she told me she had never attended a class reunion,” Carolyn Ferber, Community Education Coordinator, explains. When they figured out 2014 marked her 25th reunion, Shelly decided she wanted to make sure she went this year. They called her alma mater, Hancock County High School, asking if they knew of any plans for a reunion. The school suggested they check the local paper. Shelly put her family on alert to watch for reunion notices.
A few weeks later, Carolyn received an email from Michelle Gregory, a teacher at North Hancock Elementary School in Hawesville, and participant in the No R Word program. Gregory also happened to be Shelly’s classmate. “We couldn’t believe it!  She asked me to pass along to Shelly info about their class reunion on May 24.” Shelly made arrangements with her staff for her to go.

“I had the best time!” Shelly shares. “I remembered faces, but not everyone’s names. Everyone came over to talk to me. Many had seen me in the newspaper or heard about my work with Wendell Foster.” Michelle agreed the reunion was good for Shelly, but thought it was even better for their classmates. “It was good for our classmates to see Shelly, because they saw her in a different light, as a real person. Any walls created in people’s mind about Shelly’s disability disappeared when she started cutting up with them, laughing, and sharing what all she’d been doing for twenty-five years.”
Reconnecting with high school friends was important to Shelly. “They were very accepting of me during high school. Some even helped me get to and from classes. Now we stay connected on Facebook. If it was not for my work with the No R Word campaign, I might not have had the opportunity to reconnect with my high school friends. Just another way Wendell Foster continues to open up a whole new world for me.”

Friday, July 18, 2014

Aligning Body & Spirit

Every Catholic remembers his or her First Communion, a rite of passage when at six- and seven-years old, you join your church community in becoming one with the body and blood of Christ. Nicholas needed help from his physical and speech therapists at Wendell Foster’s Campus to overcome two challenges for this life-changing spiritual event.

In physical therapy (PT), he and Miss Sue practiced the mechanics of receiving communion. They focused on his approach to the priest, the proper positioning of his hands to receive the “body of Christ,” in this case, pieces of torn paper, then his turn to receive the cup of wine. For two PT sessions, they focused on his body movement to ensure a smooth transition between these two simple tasks. One of his two challenges down.

Nicholas experiences extensor tone, a movement pattern causing his body to jerk backwards when anything approaches his face. He also has dysphagia that interferes with his ability to swallow easily food or water. Using practice communion wafers and grape juice in speech therapy, Nicholas actually rehearsed with Miss Michele receiving the bread and wine. His first goal: eat the communion wafer in thirty seconds or less so he could drink the wine. His second goal:  simply taste the holy wine to his lips, which is required for first communion, but optional after that. Drinking the wine was Nicholas’ biggest challenge for a few reasons. First, he has to keep his head from recoiling when taking the wine goblet to his mouth. Second, he must concentrate on closing his lips around the goblet rim so he can get the taste of the wine without spilling it. Finally, he had to overcome his distaste for the fermented grape juice!
With practice and support from both his therapists, his efforts paid off! Nicholas received his first communion at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church on May 4th without any problems. He and his family appreciate the time and effort that Sue and Michele took to help make this special day a success for Nicholas.

Friday, July 11, 2014

For the Love of Animals

“Did you know that cats have mini-spikes on their tongues? It helps with their grooming,” explains Jamie when asked what she has learned at Towne Square Animal Hospital. Jamie loves animals and is a “proud mama” of five cats. She did some volunteer work with a local animal shelter but things were not going well. Direct Support Professional, Kelsey Arnett, started researching other options that better supported Jamie’s passion. Thanks to Towne Square Animal Hospital, and veterinarian Dr. Damon Cecil, DVM, Jamie received the opportunity to hang out and watch what goes on behind the scenes of an animal hospital.
For six weeks, Jamie visited the animal hospital every Thursday for two hours. She loved every minute of it. “We watched a hip joint replacement on a dog, another one get spayed, even dental work on a cat.  Oh, and we played with the puppies, they are so cute!” Kelsey adds, “It is tight quarters in the work area, so we were like flies on a wall. All the staff and vet techs were wonderful, and willing to answer Jamie’s questions.”
More importantly, Jamie learned that there is more to pet ownership than petting and loving on dogs and cats. “She better understands the responsibility of being a pet owner, what is required to take care of them. Jamie took the information she learned and is applying it at home with her own cats.” In mid-August, Jamie will spend time at Towne Square Pet Resort where she will learn about grooming, and help staff care for its boarding clients. Jamie, and Wendell Foster’s Campus and its Michele P program, are grateful to Dr. Cecil for giving her the chance to learn more about what a vet does. “He’s the nicest vet I’ve ever met.”

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Gary and the Citizens Police Academy

It is no secret that Gary is an avid law enforcement supporter.  Gary’s favorite shows include CHiPs and The Andy Griffith Show.  When asked last fall if he wanted to join the Owensboro Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy, no one was surprised when Gary excitedly said yes! This twelve-week program educates citizens about the many responsibilities of the police department. Along with thirty-nine other community members, Gary learned about the Traffic Unit, the Emergency Response Team, Dispatch, Narcotics Unit, and Hazardous Devices Unit.  Always seated in the front row, Gary listened intently to the officers’ stories of their police experiences. 

Gary graduated from the Academy on November 7, and immediately joined its Alumni Association, a volunteer group that encourages continuing citizen support of the officers’ work within the community. He attends their monthly meetings, and helps with various fundraising events, such as grilling burgers in front of Wal-Mart. Gary even participated in the Run from the Cops 5K race this spring.
Part of the Citizen’s Police Academy (CPA) included a police ride-a-long with Officer Michael Hathaway.  It was a slow night, and evidently, there were too many law-abiding citizens, because no one was breaking the speed limit or running stoplights!  As cars drove by, Gary kept asking, “What about that one?”  They finally spotted a woman who had expired tags and make the stop.  Gary was thrilled.

As a CPA alumnus, Gary continues doing ride-a-longs with Officer Hathaway every few months.  Wendell Foster’s staff member Steven Carraway joined Gary on a ride one night.  "Officer Hathaway knows what Gary enjoys most - traffic stops. They park and watch for drivers who are not wearing their seat belts or have expired tags.  According to Carraway, "In two hours, we made five traffic stops for minor violations. Gary felt he'd done his duty that evening."
More importantly, Gary feels he is an active member of his community.  "While walking in the Color Blast 5K run in March, several police officers staffing road blocks recognized Gary and called out to say hello to him." Carraway added, "All the cops know Gary, and he loves that they recognize him when he's out and about in Owensboro."

Wendell Foster’s Campus knows supporting the men in blue is important to Gary.  According to Officer Hathaway, “Gary’s level of enthusiasm for what we do for our community is outstanding.  It’s refreshing to see his eagerness to do his part to help and support us in doing our jobs.”  Supporting Gary’s enthusiasm for what OPD does for our community is what we do at Wendell Foster’s Campus.

Monday, June 2, 2014

We are so Happy!

We at Wendell Foster’s Campus happily return with
an updated version of
Unique Bodies~Determined Souls!

Thank you for your loyal readership of our blog during 2012-2013.  We appreciate your continued support as we move our blog in a new and exciting direction!

Our blog travels down a new path of heartwarming experiences where empowering and inspiring meet! We invite you to join us as we celebrate the amazing people we serve and their success stories!  At Wendell Foster’s Campus, we define success on an individualized basis, when a person with developmental disabilities feels empowered and achieves a personal goal. Together, we work with our Campus individuals in our Centre Pointe cottages and Supports for Community Living homes, our Kelly Autism Program clients, our Therapy Pavilion outpatients, and our Michele P. clients to achieve what is important to them so they may lead fulfilling lives. Long gone is an outdated community belief that those with developmental disabilities cannot do anything! Bryant, Jamie, Shelly, Amy, Nicholas, and their Campus peers are actively involved in the fabric of everyday life.  Not only are they benefitting, they are positively making a difference and contributing to the quality of life in Owensboro.

Please join us for this new journey!  Invite others to join us by sharing their stories on Facebook, Twitter, or via email.  Help us celebrate successful individuals who are overcoming incredible odds to live their lives to the fullest!

To kick this new journey off, please enjoy this video montage created by our Physical Therapy Department. We at Wendell Foster's Campus love our work, the people we serve, and their success!
 What we do makes us happy, and the people we serve are happy!!!