I Give Thanks Every Day

A Message from Stephen Bennett

“At this time of year, many of us start to reflect on what we are thankful for – family, friends, our home, our health. For me, being thankful is part of what I do every day. 

Stephen Bennett

UCP President and CEO, Stephen Bennett

Just like you, I am thankful for many things, not the least of which is the fact that I get to do what I do for a living. My career started in California when I served as a caregiver for people with disabilities. I was part of a sea change as large institutions were closed and many people with disabilities were able to live in their communities for the first time.

Although there were challenges, I was thankful for what I knew would be a positive change in society. When I came to UCP I was thankful that a national network existed to serve people with disabilities and their families. I was thankful that so many professionals and experts were working together to provide the essential services, support, advice and advocacy needed by 176,000 people with a broad range of disabilities every day. And, I was thankful that I could lead a national office, which would support that network with a voice in Washington, D.C, and national programs such as My Child Without Limits, which provides valuable resources and information to parents of young children with disabilities.

Tuesday, December 2 is #GivingTuesday – a day on which everyone is urged to donate to a favorite cause after the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s meant to remind us that there are always more important things in life than holiday shopping. I hope you will join us by making a donation to UCP. If you give on #GivingTuesday, the Network for Good has promised to us $1 for every $20 we raise.

I am so very thankful for you – our supporters – who donate to ensure that this organization remains strong and move forward. As we close out this year and look forward, I encourage you to get involved and continue to support UCP. ”

Thank you!

SB_sig_transparent

Stephen Bennett signatureStephen Bennett, UCP President & CEO

 

#GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday

 

The Five “P”s for Reducing Holiday Stress

We can’t promise you a stress-free holiday season any more than we can promise you a white Christmas, but there are some common sense tips which can help children with disabilities (and their parents!) make it to the end of the holiday season relatively unscathed. We call them the Five “P”s

Gingerbread CookieWe should stress – no pun intended – that when you mix family gatherings, religious or cultural traditions, crowds, noise, lights and sometimes travel, no one is immune to the stress. It’s not just a child with autism who may become over-stimulated or a child with a physical disability who may be exhausted or frustrated. The annual holiday season “melt-down” is to be expected from children of all types and abilities, and maybe some grown-ups too.

The key is managing expectatons. Knowing what is most likley to cause stress for your child during the holidays and having a plan for that eventuality is the easiest route to minimizing problems.

PREPARING

It starts with preparing both your child and your family for what’s to come. Start early with holiday stories, books and movies to help your child understand what it’s all about. Practice traditions in small doses such as a trial-run at a formal sit down dinner with just the immediate family before you add in aunts, uncles and cousins. Take a trip to church or synagogue and explain what will be different about the ceremonies during the holidays. Play holiday music around the house or experiment with lighting candles if that will be something new for your child.  If your child uses a walker or a wheelchair, practice navigating through Uncle John’s house or whereever you are likely to spend time during the festivities if you can.

PLANNING

Then have a solid plan for when things don’t go as expected. Set up an escape route or a safe space so the child can retreat if things get to be too much. Let your friends and relatives know that this isn’t a big deal and there’s no need to make a fuss if your child needs to take a break. Bring a favorite toy from home, a snack, or an iPad to offer your child when they don’t want to – or can’t – go with the flow. Reassure your child that they can take a break anytime they wish and go over how to do so – maybe even set up a code word so your child can signal you that they are having a hard time without drawing too much attention to themselves.

PARTICIPATION

Make sure there is a way they can participate. Scope out venues and ask about holiday gathering plans ahead of time to find a way for your child to be included in the festivities to whatever extend they feel comfortable. Will they be able to be placed at the same table with everyone during dinner? Will they have a good view of the holiday pageant? Will they be included in games with other children? Figure out how this can happen and prepare any necessary accommodations ahead of time.

PAMPERING

Be sure to have everything necessary for your child to be as comfortable as they would normally be at home. Don’t force outfits that are itchy, or dress shoes that are tight just for the sake of appearances. And, don’t expect them to stay up far later, walk far further or stand or sit far longer than they normally would just because it’s a “special occasion.”

PATIENCE

Don’t rush. And, don’t overbook! Tell your relatives and friends that you expect them to be flexible. If you miss the beginning of services or don’t stay for dessert, that is just a fact of life that isn’t going to ruin anything. For a child with a disability it may take longer to get ready, or to get from one place to another and things will simply have to go at a slower pace. The more relaxed you are about time, the more relaxed your child will be as well.  After all, the season is about so much more than gifts and parties. It’s about celebrating together as a family – a family that includes a child with a disability.

 

Happy Holidays!

 

USAID Gives $2.2 Million to UCP Wheels for Humanity

UCP Wheels for Humanity (UCP Wheels), a subsidiary of United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles, Ventura & Santa Barbara Counties, has received a $2.2 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and JSI Research & Training Institute to support Project CLASP, a project which will improve and streamline the supply-chain for wheelchairs worldwide and supply over 15,000 wheelchairs to those in need around the world.Wheels for Humanity

CLASP (Consolidating Logistics for Assistive Technology Supply & Provision) is a two-year project in collaboration with ten international partners in Indonesia, Philippines, Georgia, Romania, Nicaragua, El Salvador & several other nations to improve the quality, selection and volume of wheelchairs provided in each country. In partnership with supply-chain experts Jones Lang LaSalle, UCP Wheels will consolidate inventory from five international manufacturers in a single hub, so that a variety of locally appropriate wheelchairs can be acquired from a single location.

“UCP Wheels for Humanity’s is the ideal organization to lead this project,” says Sue Eitel, Senior Rehabilitation Advisor at USAID. “Their proven track record of successful wheelchair provision projects and international partnerships makes them an industry leader.”

“Project CLASP addresses a serious barrier confronting the wheelchair industry which leads to people with disabilities worldwide not receiving wheelchairs that meet their personal needs,” says UCP Wheels Chief Executive Officer, Ronald S. Cohen, Ph.D. “This project will allow UCP Wheels and other organizations to give the life-changing gift of mobility to more people in need, more efficiently.”

UCP Wheels for Humanity was founded in 1996 to increase access to mobility for children and adults with physical disabilities who live in developing countries. UCP Wheels provides appropriately fitted wheelchairs and quality of life services to more than 6,000 individuals each year and acts as an advocate and capacity-building partner to local organizations, creating sustainable, community-based systems that support long-term change.

 

Design-athon Draws Innovators

Enabled by Design-athon: DC Edition drew a diverse crowd of creative innovators excited by the potential to solve everyday challenges faced by people with disabilities. More than 160 people from as far away as India, Boston, Atlanta and San Francisco registered to attend the kick off event held Wednesday evening at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library. Lightning talks aimed to introduce attendees to some of the unique challenges faced by people with disabilities and some of the inspirations that led to innovation, while a social hour hosted by Design Thinking DC introduceDay 1 Team Meetingd participants to each other in anticipation of the workshop ahead.

Adrienne Biddings, Policy Council for Google talked about Google’s cadre of developers and engineers, many of whom had little knowledge of disability but who are always trained in accessible design within a month of joining Google’s team.

Brett Heising, the CEO & Founder of BrettApproved, related his own personal experiences as a person who uses a wheelchair in finding accessible travel accommodations – experiences which let to his start-up of a website offering reviews of destinations for travelers with disabilities.

Maria Town, founder of the blog CP Shoes, read aloud her “love letter” to shoe brand Converse and creatively brought home the love/hate relationship people with cerebral palsy sometimes have with their shoes and how an item others take for granted can play an outsized role in the life of a person with a disability.

Diego Marsical, founder of 2Gether International and a paralympian gave the crowd of 150 at the library a sense of the international disability community and the importance of the diversity of people with disabilities.

Phillip Reeves of DC Department of Small Business Development encouraged ambitious innovators to go for government funding, reminding them that the “Roomba” was once considered a weapon  to prove  a point about how government agencies such as the Department of Defense a are ready and able to fund high risk/high reward projects.

The talks ended with John Salmen, President of Universal Designers & Consultants, Inc. with an enlightening outline of the concept of universal design, or design for all.

Early the next morning 10 teams of eight participants each gathered at Google to start the Deisgn-athon workshop which would end with workable ideas to improve the lives of people with disabilities. The teams were greeted by Bob Gootzit from PCS Engineering 3D PrinterPSC Engineering 3D Printers3_D Printers

 

 

 

 

 

 

With access to a Cube Pro Duo and Cube Gen Three from PCS Engineering and the assistance of two experienced 3-D printer operators, the teams would have the latest technology to help bring their ideas to life.

Working in the hallsBut before they were able to take advantage of the printers, they first had come together as a team and come up with an idea. Mentors with disabilities and team facilitators kept teams on track, leading the teams through empathy exercises designed to simulate some aspects of certain disabilities. Often the empathy exercises led to brainstorms about how to tackle the very challenges the teams had just experienced.

By Friday afternoon, a  judge’s panel including UCP Chief Operating Officer Chris Thomson, Google’s Policy Council Adrienne Biddings, and Brett Heising, founder of  www.brettapproved.com, was evaluating 10 minute pitches from each team, who tried to convince the panel their product idea should win.

Judged on their idea’s innovation, feasibility, marketability and other factors, the teams sweated under the lights on a small stage at Google’s state-of-the-art D.C. offices. They were peppered with questions about how the products might work, who they might serve and how they might go about bringing them to market.Sketching 2

“If you plan on keeping your profit margins low, then what’s in it for an investor?”

“Have you researched the cost of raw materials?”

“How often would this software be updated?”

Tough questions for a skilled entrepreneur, much less a team of diverse participants who only met each other Wednesday night and had less than 36-hours to dream, develop and dig in to the nitty-gritty of creating their prototype and their pitch.

In the end, three teams walked away with praise and prizes from Google and TechShop.

The Judges’ Choice Award was presented for the concept of a browser plugin for Chrome to add on-demand definitions for idioms designed for people with autism and/or English-language learner. (created by Sirjay Kasturi, Sudhita Kasturi, Sun Chee Blair, David MacPherson, Amnah Azizi, Susan Herngenrather, Lindsay Schultz and Celene Moore). Each team member was awarded a Google Chromebook.

DSC_4621

The People’s Choice Award was presented to the team who came up with clip bracelet designed to provide stability for a hand with low-dexterity (created by Emily Flax, Clarice Torrey, Benjamin VanSelous, Jessica Bonness, Jessica Denson, Mike Ellis and John Levy). Each team member was awarded a membership to TechShop.

People's Choice

Best Prototype was awarded to the 3-D printed design for a relatch tool for keeping public bathroom doors with broken latches closed (created by Bita Salehi, Ken Ward, Mully Zacharia, Bagais Reem, Michelle Bendit, Jacob Johnson, Mallory Anderson, and R J Heller). Each team member was awarded a Google Chromecast.

Best Prototype

Other ideas included an ATV-style modular customized wheelchair, a compression sock using biometals, a shoe key, a magnetic opener, a “smart” pill dispenser, a commuter app to aggregate data for people with disabilities and an app to help caregivers record instructions for later review.

Design-athon is an initiative of United Cerebral Palsy’s Life Labs, which fosters innovation in design and technology for people with disabilities and is held each fall. Find out more about UCP, Life Labs and Design-athon online.

 

Special Thanks to our Sponsors and Partners:
Google, CareerBuilder, TechShop, Sprint Relay, CEA Foundation, Sugru, PCS Engineering, Design Thinking DC, George Washington University’s Corcorcan School of the Arts, Marymount University, Mt. Ida College, and Coroflot