The Camp SMILE Spirit

 
by Megan Maher, UCP’s Special Events Coordinator
 
Special Meaning in Life’s Experience. That’s what Camp SMILE stands for, and strives to achieve. Hosted by UCP of Mobile, Camp SMILE is a residential summer camp for individuals with disabilities (ages 5-50) and their siblings. With adapted rules and specialized equipment, campers not only have the chance to participate in physical activities like kayaking, fishing, swimming, boating, and horseback riding; they also meet others whose abilities and life experiences are similar to their own.
 
Founded in 1972, Camp SMILE has grown exponentially – from originally serving 27 campers for four days in the summer to now serving over 300 campers across four five-day, four-night sessions and two seasonal respite weekends. The camp offers a unique one-to-one camper-to-counselor ratio, which helps campers adjust to life outside their normal routine and helps foster genuine relationships between campers and counselors.
 
My journey with UCP began as a Camp SMILE counselor in 2004. After spending five full summers at camp, I went to college and based my education off my camp experiences. I bounced from special education to psychology, worked at an autism center and on an autism research project, and fueled the search for my future career based upon the inspiration camp had instilled within me across my high school days. Now the Special Events Coordinator for UCP’s national office in Washington, D.C., I journeyed back to my camp family this summer to rediscover the Camp SMILE spirit, and learn what it truly means to everyone involved.
 
The Camp SMILE Spirit for Counselors
 
This was Emily Kendall’s 15th summer as a camper, but her counselor’s first. “We’re friends at school,” her counselor Emma Erwin explained. The pair are students at Baker High School, where Emily would frequently talk to Emma about camp and her summer experiences. “After my grandfather died,” Emma said, “Emily came to me and said: ‘Don’t be sad, because in heaven he’ll get to ride the zipline just like you can at Camp SMILE.’ I knew then I wanted to be a counselor, and waited every year until I was finally 16 and could sign up to volunteer.”
 
 
 
For Mallory Schum, the Camp SMILE spirit is about making her camper have the best week possible. “I like that camp makes us feel equal, like they aren’t the minority.” Schum states the experience is like working for any other summer camp, and then some. “I try to make sure my camper gets the most out of their week, but feel like I might get even more out of it myself.” Her favorite moment? Struggling for hours to get a wheelchair-bound camper up a waterslide, but then getting to see the look on her face when she slid down. Mallory sees the Camp SMILE spirit to be a beautiful thing, stating that: “As long as this place is around, it will continue to give counselors and campers alike a meaningful and life changing summer experience.”
 
A counselor for six years, Mallory intends to go into the field of nursing and continues to volunteer with UCP of Mobile throughout the year. Over a third of all volunteers follow suit by choosing college majors and future careers that relate back to their summer camp experiences.
 
The Camp SMILE Spirit for Campers
 
Waylon Rogers, a camper for virtually his entire life much like Emily, says that camp means “you always have to smile.” Waylon, known for his dance moves and remix to the “Mr. Sun” flagpole song’s chorus, values the friendships that camp has given him. After all, he says, “even when you have to leave, camp is about knowing you can come back next year.” And indeed the campers do come back. As Camp SMILE’s model separates by age, not disability, campers have the opportunity to grow up together and proceed through the different summer sessions as a group.
 
Marcus Williams (pictured here) has been coming to camp for “a long time” he tells me. For Marcus, camp is family. His favorite part of camp are his friends, a group that bring energy (and maybe a little bit of trouble) to the entire camp and are notorious for having the most rambunctious cabin of the week.
 
His message to someone who has never come to Camp SMILE before: “You have to come see it for yourself, cause you’re gonna love it.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Camp SMILE Spirit for the Community
 
This summer was Matrisza Alvarez’s 21st year at Camp SMILE. This camp journey has taken her from counselor to staff to UCP of Mobile employee, and now, Camp Director.
 
For Matrisza, the Camp SMILE spirit embodies more than just the summer camp experience – generating true community and family benefit. “We are the only residential camp in the greater Mobile area for all disabilities. Camp SMILE encompasses everyone – and means just as much to the families as it does to our campers. Through this program and our respite weekends we strive to provide a safe, loving, and fun environment so that parents can get a break themselves and feel confident that their child is being cared for.”
 
Camp SMILE is also sustained by a strong volunteer force – from teen counselors to dedicated staff who decide to spend their summers to continue building this program. “How many teenagers we have doing great work with us all summer is amazing,” says Alvarez. “Camp is not only a huge service to our campers, but provides a volunteer experience to hundreds of teenagers in the Mobile community each summer.”
 
 
To learn more about Camp SMILE, visit http://www.campsmilemobile.org or contact Camp Director, Matrisza Alvarez at malvarez@ucpmobile.org.

Ms. Wheelchair Michigan 2014 Shares Journey to Parenthood

Are you a person with a disability who has ever wondered whether or not you would one day become a parent? Or are you a parent or caregiver who has ever had the same question regarding your son or daughter? Ms. Wheelchair Michigan 2014, Kelsey Kleimola, recently shared her story with UCP and discussed this very topic. See her story below!


by Kelsey Kleimola, Ms. Wheelchair Michigan 2014

 

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From a very young age, I’d always known I wanted a family.  I fantasized about being a mother, imagining a world in which my wheelchair didn’t exist.  Not because I felt sorry for myself, or because I didn’t think parenting would be a possibility, but because I honestly didn’t think all that often about having a disability, or that it might keep me from my dreams.  To me, having a disability was as much a part of me as breathing– something I’d lived with my entire life.  I’d learned early on that I could either let it define me or let it drive me.

 I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when I was ten months old.  After being told, throughout many times in life, that I would never be able to do anything, and that any hope for a bright future looked grim, I worked hard to prove my naysayers wrong.  When they said I couldn’t do something, I pushed forward– and I did it.  I attended a public high school, even though I was told I’d never talk.  I was accepted into an amazing college, though I was told that would be an impossibility.  I continued to dream, despite those who were quietly whispering, “You can’t.” Always, though, my heart went back to one thing– wanting to be a mother.

Then an amazing thing happened.  Some might call it miraculous.  Right there, in the middle of my everyday life, I met my husband.  We met in an online chatroom and during the first several weeks of us talking, I was upfront and honest.  “I have cerebral palsy,” I said.  His response? “So what?” It was then that I knew, this was the man God had chosen for me.  On a snowy February day, two years after we’d first met, we got married.

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A month before our second anniversary, we were blessed with a beautiful baby boy.  I’d gone through a normal, healthy pregnancy.  I was elated.  My thoughts rushed back, not for the first time, to the little girl who longed for a family of her own. I was wrapped in a perfect bubble of happiness, knowing no one could burst it. But people tried.  They questioned how I would care for a baby on a daily basis.  What would happen when my son grew older and began to walk?  What if he ran away from me and into a dangerous situation?  What would I do?  How would I cope?

 But do you want to know the truth?  While everyone else was busy worrying, I was busy loving. I reveled in the sweet smell of my baby boy– the fact that I could make him laugh so easily, that I could make him happy and that I was his mommy.  I chose not to live in a world of “what ifs.” Instead, I savored the moments that I knew would pass all too quickly. I focused on what I could do as a parent, instead of the little things that I needed help with.  I could change his diapers, give him baths, feed him and snuggle him.  But most importantly, I wrapped my son in the certain knowledge that I was his mommy, and that was enough for both of us.

That was five years ago.  Since then, we’ve added a gorgeous baby girl to our family.  Neither one of my children have ever questioned why I’m in a wheelchair. This is their normal, and that’s OK.  But when the difficult days and voices creep in, once again whispering, “You can’t,” the sweet laughter of my children reminds me that I did.

 

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Kleimola is from Grand Rapids, MI and currently lives in Ypsilanti, MI with her family. She will compete at the Ms. Wheelchair America 2015 competition in Long Beach, California on August 4 – 10, 2014. Feel free to follow her on Facebook!

 

Time to Swim! UCP’s Interview with Dr. Deborah E. Thorpe

by O’Ryan Case, UCP’s Manager of Public Education Programs

Thorpe- Headshot- 2012

 

 

Debbie Thorpe, PT, PhD
Associate Professor
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

 

 

 

Summer is underway! A short while ago, we talked about the importance of inclusive summer camps and, this month, we are highlighting the many benefits that swimming brings to individuals with a range of disabilities (well, all individuals to be exact!). 

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Deborah E. Thorpe, a physical therapist who who is an Associate Professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Thorpe led Project ACT NOW (Adults with Cerebral Palsy Training to Increase Overall Wellness), which investigated the effects of aquatic exercise on fitness and participation of adults with cerebral palsy (CP). See below to check out the interview!

Interview with Dr. Deborah E. Thorpe (DT):


Thanks so much for speaking with me and sharing your expertise around aquatic exercise with our UCP audience! I’ll begin with the workout that swimming brings. I have spastic diplegic CP and, whenever, I swim, it really feels like a complete workout. Can you tell me a little more about why this is and why I feel this way?

DT: It’s because aquatic exercise is a whole-body workout. When you exercise in the water, you’re moving against resistance the entire time– and this is a lot more resistance than what is felt on land. Water applies variable resistance, so the slower you move through water, the less resistance you experience against your movements. Conversely, the faster you move through water, the more resistance you experience. When you push ten pounds worth of force through water, you’re getting ten pounds pushed against you. Every muscle group can be exercised against resistance much easier in the water than on land. Also, for individuals with muscle weakness and limited range of motion, different movements, such as abduction, can be very difficult on land. But in the water, properties like buoyancy (the upward force of the water pushing against the object that is being submerged) make these movements much easier.


You’re right. I’m able to do much more with my legs when I’m in water than when I’m on land. Can you explain water’s buoyancy a bit more?
 

DT: Water’s buoyancy affects the amount of weight bearing on your legs. When you’re in waist-deep water, your legs are only having to support 50% of your body weight. In chest-deep water, your legs are only having to support 25% of your body weight. In neck-deep water, your legs are only supporting 10% of your body weight. Moving in water is so much easier for individuals with neuromuscular challenges, such as CP. If individuals have a hard time standing, I’ll put them in chest-deep water and they can stand and many times walk with their feet flat on the bottom of the pool. Once they get stronger, we’ll move to waist-deep and then knee-level water. Then, before you know it, they’re in mid-calf water.

 

So in addition to making the movements much easier, what other kinds of benefits come with swimming and other aquatic exercises?

DT: Well, it’s a safer environment in which to try more risky movements. I can’t get all of the kids I work with to jump off a step when they’re on land. But if I ask them to jump while they’re in the water, they feel safer and safety isn’t much of an issue. I can get people to jump up and down, or stand on one leg without losing their balance, which may be very difficult on land. If they fall in the water, they will not get injured. 

I mentioned it brings a total-body workout and helps with increasing range of motion in most muscles. In chest-deep water, the hydrostatic pressure produced by the water pushes against and gives a quick stretch to your diaphragm. It works the muscles in your chest– kids with CP tend to take short breaths, which is why some have softer voices, as they’re not filling their lungs all the way up with air and have trouble pushing air out of their lungs. When water is pushing against your diaphragm and providing resistance, by breathing you’re building up its strength and increasing the ability for the lungs to expand more and, ultimately, you can take in more air; it can definitely help with breathing.

Additionally, this hydrostatic pressure pushes on organs, such as the bladder and bowels and helps these organs to better perform. What do we all do after a half hour or so of aquatic exercise? Go to the bathroom!

 

Wow, that’s a lot! Do these benefits tend to last? 

DT: Anecdotally, adults with CP and parents of children with CP have told me that they’ve seen these types of benefits last for up to 24 – 48 hours.

The hydrostatic pressure produced in the water is a natural pump. Being in water is almost like wrapping an ace bandage around your calf moderately tight. The pressure of the water pushes lactic acid (which you build up while exercising and is what makes your muscles sore) out of the muscles at a faster rate than when doing land-based exercises.

 

So just to confirm, would you say these benefits apply to individuals of all ages and with all types of disabilities?

DT: Absolutely. I’ve worked in the water with babies, as well as individuals in their 70s. And I’ve worked with individuals with CP, Down syndrome, spina bifida and more. There is no one who can’t go in the water. For someone who has a tracheostomy, more precautions need to be addressed, such as making sure water doesn’t get into the trach.  If someone has a seizure disorder, you have to make sure the seizures are controlled and monitor him or her closely.

Let me tell you about one woman with whom I have worked with in the water. She has spastic quadriplegic CP and has used a power wheelchair since she was a child. She basically has only limited movement in her hands out of water– but in neck-deep water, I have seen her running!

 

That is incredible. Another thing about swimming that I’d point out is that it’s something people of all abilities can enjoy– it’s fun! Can you talk a little bit about that? 

DT: It also brings so many psychological benefits. I put all kids, no matter what their ability level is, in the water together. It’s amazing to watch them play basketball in the pool. Water “levels the playing field” and they all have a lot of fun. So in addition to the physiological and safety advantages, there are psychological ones involved as well.

Take kids who want to play t-ball. We play in the water! With the water resisting their movements and them having to fight the currents that are created in a pool from people moving around, the core is being strengthened. So you not only get stronger, but your balance improves.

 

What kind of timetable do you see with these types of results? 

DT: Everyone is different, so it all depends on the person and their abilities. But I’ll give you an example. I worked with a twenty-one year old man with spastic diplegic CP, who was an assistant head coach for his college’s baseball team. He told me he was always tired and that he wanted to gain strength so that he could do fun things after class and baseball events (just like every other college student). His upper body was very strong but his legs were very weak and atrophied. He came into my program and we worked for 45 minutes, three days per week for ten weeks. At the end of those ten weeks, I measured his function– he gained 200% in strength in both of his legs! Also, he was able to walk around the living room for the first time without using his forearm crutches! 

I also did a study with adults, where we worked three times per week for twelve weeks. Results indicated a trend toward improving their bone-mineral density. I can’t say this was directly a result of  aquatic exercise but they were definitely increasing their strength. The ones who walked were walking further and faster– and the water seemed to be the catalyst. Unfortunately, at a six-month follow-up assessment, a majority of their assessment measures were back to their baseline. Only a few had joined a facility where they could exercise in the water.  When they were in the study, they were provided with a pool membership for the course of the study and had camaraderie during their exercise sessions and tons of support. When the study ended, those supports went away.

 

I can say that having a chance to interact and train with other individuals who have disabilities would be fun and bring a sense of comfort. It’s certainly different when I may be the only person in the water or at a gym with a disability.

DT: I understand. I’ve been researching these types of barriers. Cost is a major barrier– a pool or gym membership that costs $35 per month is tough. Transportation is a barrier. And feeling like no one at a pool or gym knows what you can and cannot do is another barrier to exercise. Let me point out that there are personal trainers out there who are American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)- certified in working with individuals with chronic disabilities. These trainers will likely have at least some familiarity working with individuals with disabilities– so that would be something for individuals and families to consider is to check with exercise facilities to see if any of their staff has this certification.

 

All of this information is helpful. What would you tell an individual with a disability or a family member who wants to know ways to become involved with aquatic exercise  or aquatic therapy?

DT: First, I’d suggest getting a physical therapy evaluation. Get a prescription for an aquatic therapy evaluation from your primary care provider. The physical therapist will evaluate the individual on land and tell them the areas needing improvement (i.e. strengthening, flexibility, cardiorespiratory conditioning, etc). Insurance should pay for the physical therapy evaluation. After this evaluation, the therapist will then take the individual in the water and develop an aquatic exercise/therapy program for them. Note that aquatic exercise and aquatic therapy are different. You have to have a doctors prescription to get aquatic therapy but, with aquatic exercise, you can go to any pool and exercise in the water. Also, a  good resource to check out is the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD). There are a lot of exercise videos on its website.

 

So, as we wrap up, do you have any other closing remarks that you would like to share? 

DT: To the parents and caregivers that UCP serves, I would say get your children comfortable in the water. Parents can get very apprehensive about putting their children in the water– but consider enrolling them in swimming lessons. Remember, there are safe flotation devices out there. I would also suggest finding a physical or occupational therapist who does aquatic therapy and can do an evaluation and come up with an individualized program. Finally, remember that a big factor with swimming is its social aspect. Kids can become bored with physical therapy but aquatic exercise and swimming can happen anywhere– like we said earlier, it’s fun! I’m a huge proponent in getting involved in community-based physical activity. I want individuals of all abilities to go out and participate with their peers.

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It was such a pleasure learning more about the types of physiological, psychological and other benefits that come with aquatic exercise. Dr. Thorpe was also kind enough to share this video of someone she has worked with. 

 

If you would like to learn more about aquatic therapy, you can contact Dr. Thorpe at dthorpe@med.unc.edu or me at ocase@ucp.org.

 

 

Teen Gets a Yes to Prom! UCP’s Interview with Allan and Morgan Assel

by O’Ryan Case, UCP’s Manager of Public Education Programs

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Allan Assel and his daughter, Morgan, whose recent story which included professional quarterback, Robert Griffin III (RGIII), was shared all over the country. Morgan, whose close friend and classmate, Juwaan Espinal, happens to have cerebral palsy (CP), used social media to come up with a fool-proof plan of making sure she was the lucky one who Juwaan would accompany at their Centreville High School prom in Virginia. When Morgan,joined by United States Olympic Fencer, Nzingha Prescod and Juwaan’s favorite football player, RGIII, asked Juwaan to prom, he quickly accepted. See below to check out the interview with Allan and Morgan! 

Interview with Allan Assel (AA) and Morgan Assel (MA):

 

Thank you both so much for taking the time to share your story with our UCP audience! First, we all want to know– how did prom go?

MA: Prom was awesome! Juwaan really likes to dance, so we danced a lot and ate some really good food. We had a lot of fun and it was an amazing time.

 

That sounds like a great time! Were you tired from all of that dancing?

MA: Oh yes, we were definitely tired the next day.


So, as part of our work here at UCP, we work to ensure that everyone of all abilities can live their lives without limits. Your story was shared all around the country. However, it wasn’t the fact of Juwaan going to prom that caught our attention, but rather the great lengths you went to in order to make your ask so special. Can you talk about what it was that made you go these great lengths?

MA: Juwaan absolutely deserved all of it. He goes through a lot but always remains positive. It   wasn’t difficult for me to want to find a way to help make the day so special. If anyone deserved it, it was Juwaan. And if there’s anyone I’d want to go to prom with, it was definitely Juwaan.

 

 

It sounds like throughout all of your planning, your thinking wasn’t centered around whether or not Juwaan could go to prom, but instead around how to make the ask so special that he would tell you yes.

MA: Yeah, he’s pretty popular so I had to make sure I was the one he would take to prom. I didn’t want anyone else to beat me to him!


Allan, what were your thoughts when you heard of Morgan’s plan and what did you think would happen?

AA: The very first thought was that I was impressed with her reverse social-engineering skills! I was impressed by how she contacted a U.S. Olympic Fencer, Nzinga Prescott, who helped her get in touch with RGIII. Initially, she organized an event at the school to help add to all of the excitement. But it kind of fell through and she had to work with the school and other officials to make everything happen. We were all very proud of her.

 

Morgan, when did you decide you were going to try to make this happen?

MA: I’ve known all year that I wanted to ask Juwaan to prom. But I came up with my plan around the end of April.

 

 

So you’ve known Juwaan for a little while. Can you tell us a little about your friendship?

MA: We’re juniors now and we met during our freshman year at gym class. We text a lot, chat on social media and do all kinds of things like bowling and going to our school’s football games. We just went to Chipotle for his birthday!

 

Have you ever known anyone else with a disability? What would say Juwaan has taught you about CP and other disabilities?

MA: I’ve known other individuals with disabilities but no one else who has CP. I’ve learned that he’s just like me and all of our other classmates. People may assume he’s different but he likes to go to the same places, do the same things and has the same sense of humor as everyone else. He’s not “special needs,” he’s a special guy.


And he likes to go to Chipotle, just like almost everyone else!

MA: Exactly!


I’ll open this up to both of you. What would you say are your biggest takeaways from all of this?

MA: Mine is to be kind to people. A lot of people have been messaging me on social media and telling me that I’m a good person but it doesn’t take much to be kind and a friend to someone. It shouldn’t be as big of a deal as it was but instead, it should be a common place where we include everyone and be kind to one another.

 

AA: Outside of seeing him at the football games, I didn’t really know Juwaan before all of this. I knew he was a part of the football team and figured he was cool. But the coolest thing was when I had the chance to meet and see him interact with everyone. You can almost feel the love. I was happy he took my daughter to prom; although I did tell him to not keep her out too late!

 

Another thing that impressed me was the amount of love that he and his family share. After we took pictures right before prom, it took almost twenty minutes to get Juwaan and his wheelchair into the car. I was amazed at how long it took and how much work he and his family go through to transfer in and out of a vehicle.

 

With so much going on and your story spreading everywhere, what would you like to see come out of all of this?

MA: I would love it if people would include everyone of all abilities more throughout life. In high school, it can be difficult to open up your eyes and see that everyone around you goes through similar challenges, but I would love it if everyone would spend more time with and include one another.

AA: The thing that I took away from everything is, again, getting to know Juwaan and his family. After prom, I learned that Juwaan’s mother has been trying to buy an accessible van. Juwaan hasn’t gone to the mall or grocery store in a long time because getting in and out of his family car takes a lot of extra work. This story is good on so many different layers and prom will be a phenomenal memory, but I’d like to see it touch the quality of life for Juwaan and his family. I’ve pitched in to his mother’s GoFundMe site, which can be found by searching online for “van for Juwaan.”

 

One last question, Morgan. You’re a junior and may have set the bar just a little high this year for when it comes to asking someone to prom. Will you fill us in on any ideas you may have for next year?

MA: I honestly have no idea. I don’t really know how this can be topped so I’ll have to think about it for a while!

 

You really went above and beyond– not just with your ask to prom but for opening your eyes to get to know others around you. Thank you both again for taking the time out to speak with UCP and we look forward to sharing this and some of your photos with our audience!

MA: Sounds great!

AA: Awesome! We look forward to it!

 

 

It was great to chat with Allan and Morgan Assel. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about this story, you can contact me at ocase@ucp.org or Allan (@aja4304) or Morgan (@morganassel) on Twitter. You can find UCP (@UCPnational) on Twitter as well!

 

5 brettapproved™ travel tips

Guest blog post by Brett Heising
                                   brettapproved.com

Originally appeared as a blog post on brettapproved’s website on April 11, 2014.

 brett

 
When you start a travel and entertainment website for people with disabilities, it stands to reason that you, well, enjoy traveling. That’s certainly the case with me. But why? Because life is defined by experiences and there’s nothing better than exploring someplace new.

With this spirit of adventure in mind, I thought I’d share my top 5 travel tips:

 

5. Get to the airport early. This gives me time to explain to every airline employee I encounter that my wheelchair is much more than a piece of luggage — it’s an extension of me. Doing so makes me feel better. It also gives airline employees an opportunity to examine life from my perspective.

Arriving early also means I won’t be pressed for time going through security. The “male assist” also known as the “male PA” is a bit awkward for all parties involved. I always remind myself that this particular security protocol isn’t the highlight of the TSA agent’s day either.

I mean really, who wakes up and says: “I can’t wait to slap on a pair of disposable rubber gloves and feel sensitive areas of a stranger’s body with the back of my hand! Today’s gonna be awesome!” I’ll tell ya who … NOBODY.

 

4. No airline or hotel employee wants to make a mistake. People aren’t perfect. Mistakes are inevitable. When mistakes happen, I try my best to keep cool and work with them (whoever  “them” may be) to resolve issues as cordially as possible. While erupting might feel better in the short-term, it solves nothing.

Now, lest you think I’m perfect, I’ve had plenty of frustrating experiences. I find venting to someone you love after the fact (thank you Claudia!) is extremely helpful. Note: If Claudia’s not available a couple drinks from the hotel bar work wonders!

Sidebar: If something happens to your chair/mobility device and you’re in a bind, give my friends at scootaround.com a call. I met some Scootaround team members recently and they exemplify the organization’s “can-do” culture. I haven’t needed the company’s services yet, but I love having a back-up plan.

 

3. There’s no substitute for more time. When I’m traveling on business, arriving to my hotel a day early, before a conference starts, and getting the lay of the land has proven invaluable time and again. If there’s a mix-up with my room I have time to solve it. If I’m meeting clients off-site for dinner, I have time for some restaurant reconnaissance. What can I say? I’m a belt & suspenders kind of guy.

 

2. Take time to explore. Even the busiest business traveler needs to eat. Hence, when afforded the opportunity: Eat local! Explore local! Celebrate local! I LOVE Chipotle and Starbucks as much as anybody, I really, honestly do, but when in Rome …

And now (drumroll please) with out further ado …

 

1. Attitude is everything. I constantly remind myself and the young adults I’m privileged to mentor that we have absolutely zero control regarding how other people treat us. However, we have completecontrol over how we treat and react to them. If someone isn’t giving me the respect I deserve for example, I won’t take the bait because I want the individual I’m speaking with to know that what they may lack in civility, I more than make up for by way of my own self-respect.

 

So there you have it, five travel tips from brettapproved. Earth shattering? Nope. Worth remembering? Absolutely! If you have any travel tips or advice you’d like to share with our readers email me at brett@brettapproved.com and above all, travel confidently my friends.

2013 WORLD CEREBRAL PALSY CHALLENGE BEGINS TODAY!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Kaelan Richards: 202-973-7175, krichards@ucp.org

2013 WORLD CEREBRAL PALSY CHALLENGE BEGINS TODAY!

More than 1,500 participants commit to 10,000 steps a day to raise awareness and support for people with CP and other disabilities

Washington, DC (September 4, 2013) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) announced the launch of the second annual World Cerebral Palsy (CP) Challenge today, an international health and fitness event to raise awareness and support for people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.

The World CP Challenge is a month long campaign that encourages people to get active while supporting a great cause. Throughout September, more than 4,000 teams worldwide will challenge themselves to take 10,000 steps a day. Each of the steps—or bike rides, or yoga classes, or physical therapy sessions, as nearly any activity can be counted—will propel the teams up virtual mountains and track their progress. Teams can compare their progress against others from around the world, racing each other up the seven tallest mountains and spurring their efforts to new heights. And together, the teams will help to raise critical support for people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.

Already, more than $50,000 has been raised in the U.S., and more than $500,000 internationally—but we still have a long way to go. Join the thousands of participants and World CP Challenge Ambassadors, Team Long Brothers, and help raise support for people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities today! Sign up is open through Wednesday, September 11. At the end of the month, the World CP Challenge will culminate on October 2 with World Cerebral Palsy Day, a global innovation project to change the world for people with cerebral palsy

“UCP is very excited to kick off the second annual World Cerebral Palsy Challenge! This month promises to be an incredible, worldwide effort to raise awareness and support for people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. The World CP Challenge is such a great way for anyone, regardless of ability, to get involved and make a real difference for people with disabilities,” said Stephen Bennett, President and CEO of UCP. “We look forward to seeing each team’s progress throughout the month, and to finishing strong on World Cerebral Palsy Day on October 2. Good luck to everyone, and see you on the mountain!”

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About United Cerebral Palsy

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with nearly 100 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.

UCP CELEBRATES ANNIVERSARY OF AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Kaelan Richards: 202-973-7175, krichards@ucp.org

UCP CELEBRATES ANNIVERSARY OF AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

Landmark legislation signed into law 23 years ago 

Washington, DC (July 26, 2013) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) released the following statement today in observance of the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), into law. This landmark piece of legislation stated that all Americans, regardless of ability, were afforded the same access rights.

“The signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act was a tremendous step forward for all Americans, and particularly for the disability community, but there is still much progress to be made in achieving the equality in access the law guarantees. In areas such as education, health care and employment, United Cerebral Palsy and many others in the disability community are still working to ensure that Americans with disabilities have the supports, services and access they need,” said Stephen Bennett, President and CEO of UCP. “And so today, twenty-three years after the ADA made history, we urge everyone to keep fighting, advocating and pushing for the fair and full citizenship for people with disabilities.”

Learn more about UCP and how we are working to ensure a life without limits for people with disabilities, and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

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About United Cerebral Palsy

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with nearly 100 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.

UCP OF GREATER CHICAGO, SEGUIN SERVICES TO MERGE

CONTACT:

Kaelan Richards: 202-973-7175, krichards@ucp.org

 

UCP OF GREATER CHICAGO, SEGUIN SERVICES TO MERGE 

Local adults and children with disabilities will have more access to services and supports

Washington, D.C. (June 4, 2013) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) is pleased to announce that one of its affiliates, UCP of Greater Chicago, and Seguin Services are merging to create one non-profit organization dedicated to serving people with disabilities: UCP-Seguin of Greater Chicago.

For the past three years, UCP of Greater Chicago and Seguin Services have worked together in a collaborative relationship to provide the best supports and services to people with disabilities in the Chicago area. The merger, effective as of July 1, 2013, will make a wider range of services and programs available, particularly in the areas of technology and family support.

John Voit, President and CEO of Seguin, will become president of UCP-Seguin of Greater Chicago. Paul Dulle, PhD, President and CEO of UCP of Greater Chicago, will continue to be involved, providing ongoing consultation and becoming chairman of a new foundation under consideration by both organizations. UCP of Greater Chicago and Seguin plan to maintain their current staff and facilities.

“The entire UCP family is excited about this merger and how it will benefit the Chicago community. Both UCP of Greater Chicago and Seguin have provided excellent services and supports for years, and together they will be able to do even more to ensure a life without limits for people with disabilities,” said Stephen Bennett, President and CEO of UCP. “This merger is a smart, forward-thinking move that will expand and enhance the good work already being done, and we look forward to all of its positive impacts.”

“From our first collaboration, we recognized a natural synergy between our organizations and saw many potential advantages to joining forces,” said Dulle. “This merger is a win‐win for both teams and especially for the population we serve with advanced technologies, family support, as well as programs and services.”

“This merger will position the combined organizations for considerable growth, enabling us to offer a broader scope of services and enhanced programs to children and adults with disabilities,” said John Voit, President and CEO of Seguin. “Because we serve similar populations, we anticipate achieving this growth while reducing overall costs.”

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About United Cerebral Palsy

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with nearly 100 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.

About UCP of Greater Chicago

United Cerebral Palsy Association of Greater Chicago (UCP) is a nonprofit human services agency. UCP Chicago’s mission is to advance the independence of people with disabilities, enrich their lives, provide support to their families, and advocate for their inclusion in every facet of community life. For more information visit www.ucpnet.org.

About Seguin Services

Seguin Services is a charitable not‐for‐profit agency serving metropolitan Chicago, always striving to integrate, enrich, and empower people with disabilities. Seguin creates job opportunities and housing options that lead to greater independence, so that men and women with developmental disabilities can live, work, and socialize as their neighbors do. In addition, Seguin provides safe and loving homes for children who have disabilities and serious medical or emotional conditions. For more information visit www.seguin.org

Joining Forces: UCP and Sprint Relay

Over the years Sprint Relay has responded to communication challenges in the lives of people with speech disabilities. UCP is excited to be in partnership with Sprint Relay to help promote the products and services of Sprint Relay while furthering UCP’s efforts to advance the accessibility movement for people with a spectrum of disabilities. This partnership will raise awareness of these various services and products available through Sprint Relay that can help people with a variety of hearing difficulties and people who have speech disabilities to communicate with friends and family and live as independently as possible.

Sprint is the largest and most technologically advanced Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) provider in the nation with more than 22 years of experience. Sprint Relay services are provided to persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or who have a speech disability, and give these individuals the ability to communicate on the phone or internet. Sprint’s experience in this field ensures Sprint Relay users receive quality service regardless of the type of relay service they are using. Sprint Relay service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with no restrictions on the number of calls placed or the length of calls. For more information, visit www.sprintrelay.com. Users with a speech disability can go to www.sprintsts.com.

“Sprint Relay and UCP share a common vision that technology can be harnessed to open up the world to individuals with disabilities,” said Stephen Bennett, President & CEO of United Cerebral Palsy. “UCP is excited to be partnering with Sprint Relay to help raise awareness of the services they provide that can really make an incredible difference in the day-to-day lives of so many people.”

“Sprint has always been committed to making communication possible for all of our customers, including those with speech disabilities. Sprint Relay delivers on this promise through our new partnership with United Cerebral Palsy who is a recognized advocate serving 170,000 clients and families every day. We look forward to working together to raise awareness about Speech-to-Speech Services available” said, Mike Ellis, Sprint Relay Director.

If you need more information about the Sprint Relay Service, please do not hesitate to contact the Sprint TRS customer service at 800-676-3777 (voice), 800-676-3777 (TTY) or send an email to Sprint.TRSCusSer@sprint.com.

REGISTER TODAY FOR THE 2013 WORLD CP CHALLENGE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Kaelan Richards: 202-973-7175, krichards@ucp.org

 

REGISTER TODAY FOR THE 2013 WORLD CP CHALLENGE 

4-week health and wellness activity raises support for people with disabilities

Washington, D.C. (May 16, 2013) – United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) is pleased to announce that the registration for the 2013 World Cerebral Palsy Challenge is now open.  Register today to join an international competition for good!

UCP launched the World CP Challenge in September 2012 in an effort to provide an accessible health and wellness activity that is proven to promote healthy living and change participants’ health and fitness habits, all while raising awareness and crucial funds for direct services and research for people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. Cerebral palsy is a permanent disability resulting from damage to the developing brain, usually before birth. CP is the largest cause of physical disability in children; each year, approximately 10,000 infants in the United States will develop cerebral palsy.

World CP Challenge participants form teams of four and challenge themselves to take 10,000 steps a day, everyday, from September 4 through October 2. Throughout the Challenge, participants log their daily steps online, climbing virtual mountains around the world with each step and receiving weekly fitness tips and healthy recipes. And the ‘steps’ can be any activity—the World CP Challenge is unique in that it enables everyone to be active in their own way with the option to convert more than 40 activities, such as yoga or swimming, into steps. The option to convert almost any activity into steps makes the World CP Challenge available to people of all abilities. Throughout the Challenge, participants can fundraise, with all proceeds supporting services to people with disabilities and cerebral palsy research.

This year, the World CP Challenge will held in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. In these countries, the event is known as “Steptember.”

The World CP Challenge is not only a great opportunity for individuals, but for corporations and organizations as well. The Challenge serves as an employee engagement activity, increases productivity and reduces sick days among company employees. Participating companies can have employees compete amongst themselves, as well against other organizations to see who can reach the top of each mountain first.

“UCP and our international partners are thrilled to announce that registration for the 2013 World CP Challenge is now open—and we encourage everyone to check out our website, learn more about the Challenge and sign up! The World CP Challenge is a fun and exciting way to get active, compete against other teams and help to raise support for people with disabilities around the world,” said Stephen Bennett, President & CEO of United Cerebral Palsy. “It truly is an international effort to bring people together in support of a great cause. We hope you will join us, and see you on the mountain!”

To learn more about the Challenge, please visit our website, www.worldcpchallenge.org, or contact Sarah Abram at sabram@ucp.org.

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About United Cerebral Palsy

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) educates, advocates and provides support services through an affiliate network to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. Together with nearly 100 affiliates, UCP has a mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities by supporting more than 176,000 children and adults every day—one person at a time, one family at a time. UCP works to enact real change—to revolutionize care, raise standards of living and create opportunities—impacting the lives of millions living with disabilities. For more than 60 years, UCP has worked to ensure the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in every facet of society. Together, with parents and caregivers, UCP will continue to push for the social, legal and technological changes that increase accessibility and independence, allowing people with disabilities to dream their own dreams, for the next 60 years, and beyond. For more information, please visit www.ucp.org.