Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ending the use of the R word one country at a time

We can do it.  End the use of the R word.  Even it is one person at a time.  How about one country at a time?  Well, it has happened in Israel.    Can we make it happen in your community?

The end of the R word in Israel

Thursday, June 28, 2012

300x200 tali
Lin Kornhauser (right) celebrates her medal win at the World Summer Games in Athens 2011. This image won first prize in a Sport & Peace Photographic Competition

Significant Milestone

Following years of lobbying by Special Olympics Israel the term ‘people with intellectual disabilities’ has finally replaced the term ‘people with retardation’ in Israel. The R word will no longer be acceptable or tolerated in Israel when talking about people with intellectual disabilities.  Making the significant announcement this week, the Minister for Welfare Moshe Kahlon said the change in language was long overdue and reflects what should be paramount for all people with intellectual disabilities – respect and dignity.  He thanked Special Olympics Israel for never giving up on this issue and he was proud to officially announce the language change.
Lin Kornhauser from Raanana is an athlete with Special Olympics Israel and has won several medals for her country at world and national Games. Her mother Tali was one of those people campaigning for the term change. “My daughter is not retarded, she has achieved more than most and I am delighted the Minister has made this announcement. It is hugely important to people with intellectual disabilities and their families."

The effects of the R-word on people with ID and their families and friends

“Everyone has a gift and the world would be better off if we recognized it.” – Timothy Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics. 
The R-word is the word 'retard(ed)'. Why does it hurt? The R-word hurts because it is exclusive. It’s offensive. It’s derogatory. The R-word is hate speech. See why supporters think the R-Word is hurtful when used in jokes or as part of everyday speech.

How "retardation" went from a clinical description to a word of derision

When they were originally introduced, the terms “mental retardation” or “mentally retarded” were medical terms with a specifically clinical connotation; however, the pejorative forms, “retard” and “retarded” have been used widely in today’s society to degrade and insult people with intellectual disabilities. Additionally, when “retard” and “retarded” are used as synonyms for “dumb” or “stupid” by people without disabilities, it only reinforces painful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities being less valued members of humanity. 

Will you take the pledge?

Be gentle.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Special Olympics State Games 2012

Fantastic follow up article in the Galt Herald this week.  Big THANK YOU to the reporter who took the time to support our kids and cover this fantastic event.  

Chiefs celebrate memorable Special Olympics weekend

Photo by Kerensa Uyeta-Buckley - Elias Reed of the Galt Chiefs finishes the 50 meter race on June 24 at the Special Olympics at U.C. Davis’ Toomey Field.

By Kerensa Uyeta-Buckley - Sports Editor
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 1:05 PM CDT
After Elias Reed crossed the finish line of the men’s 50 meter race at Toomey Field, a look of pure happiness emerged across his face.

A few steps later, he put his hands up and enjoyed the moment of his final race at the Special Olympics’ Summer Games, of which over 900 athletes and volunteers were scheduled to participate over the June 23-24 weekend.

Just moments earlier, his teammate, David Verissimo, Jr. competed in his 50 meter race and soaked in his final event of the season in one of the largest events of the year for Special Olympics Northern California.

Joining other athletes from all over Northern California, the two athletes represented the Galt Chiefs at U.C. Davis, where the meet was held and brought home three medals each.

Reed, age 11, won a gold medal in the 50 meter run and the softball throw and a silver medal in the 100 meter run. Verissimo, Jr., age 12, won gold medals in the 50 meter and 100 meter races as well as a silver in the softball throw.

The Summer Games includes competitors from age 8 and up and is a three day event, beginning with the opening ceremonies, which were held June 22.

In addition to track and field, athletes competed in bocce, aquatics, and tennis, according to the SONC Web site.

Also celebrating the Special Olympics Summer Games was the torch run, which was held in Northern California by law enforcement members for 14 days, according to SONC, before the Flame of Hope was used to light the caldron at the opening ceremonies.

The Chiefs enjoyed privelages such as spending the weekend at the athletes’ village on the U.C. Davis campus with their parents, who were also their coaches. They also enjoyed meals and were able to meet new friends in between their opening ceremonies and their three events, said David Verissimo, Sr., who coached his son.

Being able to enjoy an opportunity such as this one, which was entirely free to athletes, came after months of preparation.

Both Verissimo, Jr. and Reed practiced twice a week for about two hours and had to earn a gold medal in the regional qualifier in order to earn a spot in the Summer Games.

Even then, the limited number of spots available to athletes meant that not every one could participate.

Their teammates, Kaily Riley, Spencer Woods and Raul Ramirez, Jr. also qualified, but the Chiefs had just two spots available to them and decided to send Verissimo and Reed should fill them.

When asked what their favorite sport was of the weekend, both Chiefs knew exactly what they liked to do.

“Run. It makes me go faster,” Verissimo, Jr. said. Overall, he said his favorite sport is basketball.

“Softball throw,” Reed quickly said about his favorite sport. “Because I threw it very hard.”

Playing sports has been an important part of both boys’ lives.

Both boys, who are River Oaks students, started competing in Special Olympics since they were eight, and at one point Reed even played on two soccer teams, said his mother.

“We put him in little league t-ball, soccer, gymnastics, everything from a very early age and then we started him on Special Olympics probably when he was eight,” Michelle Reed said.

Elias Reed also played County Line soccer as well as Special Olympics soccer during the same season.

The most important experience of the meet was possibly the people both families met along the way, besides the competition itself.

“We met so many friends from Sac and Fresno, Tulare, the Bay Area; the bus drivers were wonderful,” Verissimo, Sr. said.

“They sure had their hearts in it and like great athletes, they were true sports,” said their coach, Becky Smith. “The biggest thing is they were here. They know they matter.”

Cooling off on the grass after posing for pictures on the medal podium, both boys were ushered by their parents back to the podium to take more pictures.

There, they goofed around before finally striking a pose that described their efforts perfectly.

Both Verissimo, Jr. and Reed held “number one” signs next to each other’s heads using their fingers.

In a few short months, both will be back competing in soccer, looking for more chances to be number one.

Be gentle.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rodeo, horses, cowboys, brotherly love and rocking an extra chormosome


Down syndrome doesn't slow teen rodeo rider

article photo
Wyatt Bader of Palmer, Neb., is joining his older brother, Regan, in rodeo competitions this year. The boys' mother, Chrissy Bader, says despite Wyatt having Down syndrome there are few things that her older son does that her younger son doesn't

HASTINGS, Neb. — Brothers Regan and Wyatt Bader of Palmer, Neb., are in just about all of the same extracurricular activities. Both wrestle for Palmer High School and show cattle and hogs in 4-H and FFA. Both participated last week in the four-day Nebraska State High School Rodeo Finals in Hastings.
Wyatt, by the way, has Down syndrome.
“He's always been willing to try anything that anyone else is doing, especially Regan,” their mother, Chrissy Bader, said of Wyatt, 15. “He's got a good attitude and is pretty confident.”
Nearly 150 high school rodeo athletes competed in Hastings in 10 events. The top four competitors in each event earned berths representing Nebraska at the National High School Rodeo Finals in Rock Springs, Wyo., July 15 through 21.
Regan, 17, started participating in rodeo last year, competing in the boys cutting event, where horse and rider are judged on their ability to separate a single animal away from a cattle herd and keep it away for a period of time.
This year, Wyatt followed in his brother's footsteps.
Chrissy Bader said there are few things that her older son does that her younger son doesn't. The only exceptions are football — “although Wyatt is the student manager of the Palmer Tigers” — and competitive shooting sports, although, again, Wyatt likes to go hunting with his father, Kirk Bader, and shot his first deer last year. Wyatt also is on Central City's team for the Special Olympics.
“He hasn't been limited at all. Wyatt really looks up to his big brother,” Chrissy said, adding that his grandfather, Gary Bader, and neighbor Mark Edwards looked for a nice, gentle horse for Wyatt to start out rodeoing.
“It's probably not as agile as the other horses, but Wyatt's been doing good with it,” Chrissy said, adding that the boys practice at home with each other and their cousins, who also compete in cutting.
“My dad helps me, and my Grandpa Gary,” Wyatt said.
Everyone agrees that Wyatt has improved since he began last fall, and “Coach” Mark Edwards said they are even thinking of changing to a quicker, younger horse next year.
“She's a little faster,” Wyatt said.
Chrissy said her kids have always ridden at home, where they have horses for their cow-calf operation and feedlot. Regan also team-roped in the past but decided not to this year.
“I just thought I'd try something different,” Regan said, adding that to be successful at cutting, the cowboy really has to work with his horse.
Wyatt agreed: “I like cutting the best, and I like horses.”
Wyatt also said he enjoyed rodeo because it was giving him more muscles. “I'm getting buff,” he said with a laugh, flexing his arms.
Chrissy said they didn't know Wyatt had Down syndrome when he was born. Although the Baders had some concerns about him, it wasn't until Wyatt was 2 months old that a test confirmed that he had Down syndrome.
“We decided we hadn't treated him any different (from Regan, who is 15 months older) the first two months, why do it after we found out?” Chrissy said, adding the two are “typical brothers.”
That is evident as Regan and Wyatt tease each other about who is better at rodeoing, and have a friendly competition going on.
At Thursday's first go-round at the Nebraska State High School Rodeo Finals, Regan had a score of 138 and came in fourth, while Wyatt scored a 128, beating at least one other competitor.
Regan even admitted that Wyatt has beaten him a time or two.
Chrissy said the “rodeo family” has readily embraced the Baders and has accepted Wyatt as one of them. She has been told that no one knows of any other Nebraska rodeoer who has had Down syndrome.
The family has followed the high school rodeo circuit, attending about 14 rodeos this season. The boys' little sister, Concey, 11, even likes going to the rodeos.
Chrissy said fellow high school cutter Sterling Atkins of Broken Bow, Neb., named Wyatt “most improved cutter” and gave him one of Atkins' buckles.
Regan, who will be a senior this fall, said he would like to study diversified agriculture or agribusiness at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln next year.
Wyatt, a sophomore at Palmer High, said he would like to follow in his brother's footsteps there as well.
“I love ag. Vo-ag is my favorite class,” he said. “I get to study about plants and hay and pigs and cattle.”

Be gentle.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Educating parents about Down Syndrome!

meant to post this article about education soon to be parents about Down Syndrome, but with all the excitement of the Special Olympic State Games, I did not get a chance to comment on this.  Hopefully, the information given to parent will be true and accurate.  The information should have support groups and resources available before and after birth of their child.

Way to go Massachusetts!

Mass. Gov. signs bill on Down syndrome information

AP  / June 22, 2012

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has signed a bill into law that requires care providers to offer up-to-date educational information to parents whose children are diagnosed with Down syndrome.
The Democratic governor signed the bill Friday in a small ceremony with families, advocates and state lawmakers.
Under the legislation, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health must make the most recent, evidence-based written information on Down syndrome available to individuals and facilities that provide prenatal and postnatal care or genetic counseling. The information must include details such as life expectancy, intellectual and functional development and treatment options.
Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, who attended the signing, said the new law will help ensure that important resources are available to parents.end of story marker

Be gentle.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Special Olympics State Championships Day 2

Day 2 State Championships of the Northern California State Games.  Wow, we all had such a great time.  Fantastic weather, the best volunteers, and the ATHLETES.  What words can I use?  Inspiring?  Incredible?  Impressive?  All of these and more.  All I can give you?  A big huge THANK YOU!

Thank you to all of the volunteers, athletes and families.  Our family has been touched by each and every one of you.

Final Medal Score for Davey
50 meter run GOLD
Softball Throw SILVER
100 meter run GOLD

Here are some pictures of our day.

Be gentle.