NYT: A Couple Gaining Independence, and Finding a Bond

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Sunday wedding that was months away, then weeks away, then days away, is now hours away, and there is so much still to do. The bride is panicking, and the groom is trying to calm her between anxious puffs of his cigarette.

Peter and Lori are on their own.

With time running out, they visit a salon to have Lori’s reddish-brown hair coiled into ringlets. They pay $184 for a two-tier cake at Stop & Shop, where the checkout clerk in Lane 1 wishes them good luck. They buy 30 helium balloons, only to have Peter realize in the Party City parking lot that the bouncing bobble will never squeeze into his car.

Lori, who is feeling the time pressure, insists that she can hold the balloons out the passenger-side window. A doubtful Peter reluctantly gives in.

“I’ve got them,” she says. “Don’t worry.”

Peter Maxmean, 35, and Lori Sousa, 48, met five years ago at a sheltered workshop in North Providence, where people with intellectual disabilities performed repetitive jobs for little pay, in isolation. But when a federal investigation turned that workshop upside down last year, among those tumbling into the daylight were two people who had fallen in love within its cinder block walls.

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Transition to Washington centers around son with Down syndrome

FROM THE WASHINGTON POST Barry and Kim Trotz figured familiarity could guide their youngest child through the biggest change of his life, so first they made sure to find 13-year-old Nolan a decent Tex-Mex restaurant. On the eve of Washington Capitals training camp, the final day of the offseason, the family dined at El Paso Cafe in Arlington, where Nolan had grown to love the salsa during their regular stops since moving here this summer.

“He’s a staple guy,” Barry Trotz says of his son, who was born with Down syndrome. But the new Capitals head coach also knows Nolan as many other things: a fearless adventurer, a strong swimmer, an ace at Wii baseball, a lover of spicy foods, a flirt around his sister’s friends and a prankster at dinner parties, a kid whose smile made hockey losses feel okay.

Raising a special needs son, the Trotzes usually worry about not doing enough, but in their new city, they lately have been feeling like they have too much piled on their plates.

They picked their Clarendon home based on Nolan’s needs, and at first it seemed ideal: grassy parks down the block, middle school within biking distance (either Barry or Kim steering the family tandem and Nolan riding in back), neighboring adults who invited them to an ice cream party and whose daughters knocked on the front door to invite Nolan to play kickball.

“Which never happens when you have a special needs kid,” Barry said.

But summer soon ended. No more knocking, no more kickball. Then school started, and Nolan’s teacher was great, but a new environment with less individual attention led to acting out in class. At home, Nolan had grown quieter since the family completed its move in late August. Vocalizing his feelings had always been a struggle, a product of his condition.

“I wish we could get in there for a couple minutes,” Kim said, meaning Nolan’s thoughts.

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The Arc of Southern Maryland presents the 2014 Sprout Film Festival

The annual film festival, co-sponsored by the College of Southern Maryland, will be held Oct. 10, 2014 at 6 p.m. on the Prince Frederick Campus, Building 2, 115 J.W. Williams Road, Prince Frederick.

The family-friendly films include artistic short films, documentaries and features designed to inspire,and raise awareness about people with developmental disabilities using the medium of film. The evening includes a reception, with light refreshments provided. $20 at ticket.

Sponsorship opportunities available. For information on sponsorship or about the film festival contact 410-535-2413, Ext. 113 or development@arcsomd.org. click here for details

Teens With Down Syndrome Become Football Team Captains, Win Hearts Everywhere

Two Texas teens with Down syndrome had the night of their lives last Friday, when the best friends were named honorary team captains for their high school football team.

Local news outlet WFAA reports Blake Pyron and Austin Waters, incoming seniors at Sanger High School in Denton County, Texas, have long supported the school football team, often fetching water for players. Last year, the two led the players out of the tunnel before every game.

As a thank-you for their continued support, both became members of the team at an assembly last Friday, complete with their own team jerseys. And to say they were excited would be an understatement.

“It was awesome. …They had a smile as big as Texas,” team coach Chuck Galbreath told WFAA. Added senior defensive end Collin Jones: “It humbled me, is what it did.”

Might Blake and Austin eventually take a page from the playbook and go for a touchdown? It happened last year at a high school in Wisconsin, when Noah VanVooren, a senior with Down syndrome, was invited onto the football field for the first time — and ran the ball into the end zone for a touchdown.

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WashPost: Spirit moves them: Fitness program is tailored to people with developmental disabilities

Don’t ever challenge Sam Smith to an enthusiasm contest.

The 29-year-old fitness instructor has the booming voice of a radio announcer, the optimistic outlook of a cheerleader and the boundless endurance of a marathon runner. (He’s finished four.) So when he starts a warmup by shouting, “Welcome to Spirit Club! Let’s clap it out,” it’s impossible not to put your hands together.

There’s no question the program Smith is leading deserves the applause. Spirit — which stands for “Social Physical Interactive Respectful Inclusive Teamwork” — offers classes that help clients with developmental disabilities build muscle, increase flexibility and improve their diets. As a population, they have limited opportunities when it comes to health, Smith says. “And a lot need more social interaction,” he adds.

What makes Smith such an expert? He’s a certified personal trainer, and he also has autism.

“Sam gets them engaged more than a typically functioning trainer would be able to,” says Jared Ciner, who launched Spirit in April 2013. Ciner had two jobs at the time: as a personal trainer at Sport & Health, the local gym chain, and as a support counselor with the Jubilee Association of Maryland, which provides residential services to disabled adults.

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L’Arche GWDC Hosts Traveling Ark

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Walton Schofield shows off one of the five arks traveling the world in celebration of L’Arche’s 50th anniversary. Photo ©Brian A Taylor

Shortly after Jean Vanier, Philippe Seux, and Rappahël Simi moved in to a small home in Trosly-Breuil, France, Jean asked his friend Jacqueline d’Halluin help him name the house.

“She suggested about a hundred names,” Jean writes in his book An Ark for the Poor. “When she said ‘L’Arche,’ I knew without any hesitation that that was it.”

Only later did Jean realize the symbolism of the word, which means the ark in French. The story of Noah’s ark – a boat of salvation for God’s people – appears in Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu scripture as well as they mythology of other early cultures, and aptly symbolizes a place where people can find safety from life’s raging storms.

Today, there are L’Arche 146 communities in 39 countries where people with and without intellectual disabilities share their lives together. Born in 1964 out of the Roman Catholic tradition, communities today focus their spirituality around Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and inter-faith traditions. While each has its own unique characteristics, they share common core values of dignity, relationship, spirituality, sharing life in community, and solidarity with one another.

This year the International Federation is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of that first small home by passing five wooden arks from community to community. Each ark can be opened to reveal three levels in which pictures, signatures, and inscriptions are being collected.

L’Arche Greater Washington, D.C. hosted one of the traveling arks July 1-11. During its stay, the community re-enacted the story of Noah’s ark with founding core member Michael Schaff playing the leading role.

When asked how the L’Arche community is like Noah’s ark, members responded, “It’s a safe place,” “God is with us,” and “We’re a family.”

Once the arks have traveled to the all the communities they will land in France for a final celebration. Each country will also send a pair of representatives, symbolic of the animals going two-by-two into the safety of the ark.”

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Fitness for Health: a non-intimidating environment where your child can feel comfortable

We offer a non-intimidating, relaxed environment where you and your child can feel comfortable.

The first step is to arrange a time to tour our fitness facility during a complimentary 30-minute visit. During the guided tour with Marc Sickel, owner of Fitness for Health, your family can try the equipment, ask questions and meet our staff.

We feel that it is vitally important for children to be part of the decision process. If you decide that your family would like to proceed, we will schedule a time for your child to receive a Fitness for Health assessment to evaluate balance, kinesthetic awareness, locomotor skills/coordination, strength, cardiovascular endurance, sports skills and self-esteem.

At the time of the assessment, parents are asked to complete a health history questionnaire and provide reports from specialists concerning any previous injuries.

Within 48 hours of the assessment, Marc Sickel will call parents to discuss the evaluation results, and your family and the Fitness for Health staff will work together as a team to develop a personalized fitness program to match the unique needs of your individual child.

Call us at 301-231-7138 to schedule your Fitness for Health tour or assessment today!

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Lollipop Kids Foundation: Summer Accessible Sailing

Although 18% of US children are living with some type of disability, accessible sports and recreational programs are limited. Most often, children with severe physical disabilities are excluded from these programs completely. The Lollipop Kids Foundation, in collaboration with the Downtown Sailing Center, has developed a summer accessible sailing program which proves that “sailing is for everyone”, regardless of ability.

Accessible sailing, when used as a form of therapeutic recreation, provides a unique setting in which multiple therapeutic modalities are addressed and employed simultaneously. Accessible sailing enhances coordination, balance, communication, comprehension and visual stimulation. Children with limited ability to sit still or concentrate are visibly calmer, relaxed and focused while sailing. Accessible sailing also builds confidence and self-esteem, prevents social isolation, increases muscular strength and flexibility, improves cardiovascular functioning and enhances the child’s overall well-being.

This program uniquely incorporates modifications needed to welcome children with disabilities, even children with the most profound physical limitations.

June 23, 5-7 pm
July 7. 5-7 pm
July 21. 5-7 pm
August 4. 5-7 pm
August 18. 5-7 pm

For more information or to register, email info@lollipopkidsfoundation.org.

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Design for Life Tax Incentive Program

“Design for Life Montgomery” legislation — Bill 5-13 – Property Tax Credits–Accessibility – goes into effect July 1. The new Maryland law provides tax credits to builders and homeowners for including features in new and existing residential housing that improve accessibility for persons of all ages, including seniors and those with disabilities. With this new law, the entire stock of more accessible single-family homes, apartments and condominiums in the County will increase, creating a more inclusive community.

The bill will provide for a property tax credit for an accessibility feature installed on an existing residence; provide for a property tax credit for meeting a Level I or Level II accessibility standard on a new single family residence; provide for an impact tax credit against the Development Impact Tax for Public School Improvements for meeting a Level I accessibility standard; and generally amend the County law regarding property tax credits. This bill will provide tax credits to builders and homeowners for including Level I visit-ability (up to $3,000) and Level II live-ability (up to $10,000) accessibility features in new and existing single family attached and detached homes. The impact tax credits for builders will be for new construction in single family attached and detached homes.

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