This Friday March 7, the opening ceremony starts the events which will take place from March 7 to 16. Here in the USA NBC will carry 27 hours of live coverage.The Opening Ceremony for the 700 athletes with a physical or visual impairment from 45 countries will be covered at 11a.m. on NBCSN.
NBC will also cover all five of the Paralympic winter sports with NBCSN providing 48 of the 52 hours For more information on the events and the NBC schedule for us in the USA go to . .
Live stream is available at Team USA.org
And also at Paralympic.org's You Tube channel.
Don't miss these events. If your suffering from low spirits due to our crazy winter just 15 minutes of seeing these amazing athletes overcome their disability will bring instant relief. And you'll be caught up in the spirit of the Paralympics.
Does it? And if that is so why and what are the ramifications of it?
by Kay Ryan
The other night I woke up in the middle of the night and realized I had had the strangest dream. I dreamt that there were partly robotic mechanized dragons walking down the street looking in the windows of the houses. And looking up I also saw some smaller dragons flying around them . They seem to have Logos or some kind of writing on their sides that I couldn't make out and then I woke up.
It seemed so real that I got up to look out the window and of course there was nothing there. But, I kept thinking about it later in the day and in the next few days too. I figured that it must have related to what was bothering me lately.
I receive a daily poem from American Poets. A few days earlier the above poem had started me thinking. I put it in a circle around the dragon because the author had felt that it belonged in a circle around a dragon.
Looking for a meaning In my bizarre dream I thought maybe I was becoming like a dragon holding on to everything too tightly. I wasn't letting go of activities and it was time to let go of due to the progression of my MS.
But on further thought I think that it must have been about my concern of inequality increasing in the United States and the lack of mobility that is occurring for individuals. And the devastation to our democracy if we lose our middle class.
I was born in the depression and grew up in World War ll, Korea and the Cold War . But when I graduated college and came onto the workforce in the late fifties and early sixties as a Physical Therapist it was a time that everybody expected their children would do better. I expected that I would get married eventually and I wouldn't work or only work part time when our children were young.
The culture was not like it is today when most family's economy depends on 2 incomes. In my first position I had 10 days of sick time and one month vacation. That's also a contrast with workers today. Now being a woman I was not paid equally with my male Physical Therapists that's better today but not fully. I believe its 76% today.
Our country was not perfect but there was a change for the better in the wind. And there were expectations that you could do well if you worked hard. After the veterans returned from WW ll there was a big increase in college graduation thanks to the GI Bill. Job security was quite universal. People stayed with a company and were promoted upward too. Health care was increasingly covered with labor organizations growing.
Under President Nixon wage limits were started so Health Care and Pensions were ways of sharing productivity gains. There was a universal nationalistic feeling that carried over from the depression and World War II that we were a society to be proud of. In fact when the USSR sent sputnik up we rallied and increased math and science standards in our schools . And of course NASA was formed and we were the first to the moon. We had a can do attitude.
I remember being on the subway in NYC when the news of Sputnik was in all the newspapers. And the can do attitude was overwhelming.
But this was not a time that prosperity was shared by all. And as increased awareness of this came about we demanded a change. A change to not exclude any American from equal opportunity.
And gradually with much shame and distress our Congress passed Civil Rights Legislation. Medicare and Medicaid were also added to Social Security which had passed in 1935. Poverty programs were started and finally the ADA was passed in 1994. And at long last a growing awareness of equal rights including equal pay for women. And now homosexuals are progressing on their historic journey to equal rights.
But with the current recession exacerbating the slow regression of the average person's wages and opportunity for employment, the ability to climb up the ladder of income and social status is becoming apparent. And more people could see the progress that we've gained for the average American including those with disabilities stalling and actually declining.
People with disabilities entering the workforce are now able to take advantage of the new technology. With the advance in wheelchairs, vision and hearing aids along with computers their entry was so natural. But with this job market the last to enter can be the first to leave.
Currently 1 in 5 Americans have a disability and 51% of Americans have a friend or family member with a disability. However, 70% of working-age Americans with disabilities are outside of the workforce (compared to 28% of those without disabilities). This statistic has remained unchanged in the 24 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.
Of those working adults nearly 1/3 earn an income below the poverty level. People with disabilities constitute the nation's largest minority group, and the only group that any of us can become a member of at any time. And due to our advances in medicine people are living with disabilities not dying.
Therefore the number of Americans with disabilities is increasing. In fact from 1990 to 2000 the increase was 25% . But the number of jobs is decreasing and especially the number of good jobs that Americans once had.
It looks like we made a very big mistake in this country with NAFTA and the laws by congress for corporations to be able to send jobs overseas as well as hiding their profits there too! Workers were already dealing with technology taking their jobs. And also the latest Wall Street philosophy brings it to a triple dynamo!
Over the past 1-2 decades big corporations are also using the false idea that their only requirement is to make profits for their executives and stockholders. Sharing gains in a company's business by the labor of it's employees no longer exists for many of the big corporations. In fact many don't pay a wage to allow people to rise above poverty and they encourage their employees to apply for food stamps and Medicaid.
In an article by Mark Schmitt in the New Republic he mentions the Princeton economist Angus Deaton who putt in the conclusion of his recent book, The Great Escape, "The political equality that is required by democracy is always under threat from economic inequality, and the more extreme the economic inequality, the greater the threat to democracy."
Two-track future imperils global growth. "Globalization has made the world a more equal place, lifting the economic fortunes of billions of poor people over the last quarter century. Here's the rub: At the same time, it has made richer countries more unequal--squeezing the incomes of the poor and the middle class...Branko Milanovic, a former World Bank economist now with the City University of New York, says data from household surveys show that, from 1988 to 2008, real incomes of the poorest 50% in the U.S. grew just 23%. Their counterparts in the bottom 50% in Germany and Japan fared worse, the poorest Japanese seeing their real incomes fall by 2% in real terms. Meanwhile, incomes of the top 1% of Americans grew 113%, a figure that other studies suggest may be an underestimate." Stephen Fidler in The Wall Street Journal.
I still believe in the American philosophy of "Can Do" I'm just waiting for it to happen!
But look..there's a rainbow!!
America's children are returning to school this month. Unfortunately with the recent shootings in our schools security concerns have escalated . There is increased anxiety among our children returning to school this year. And also among their parents who are sending their kids to our local schools.
There has always been anxiety for some children returning to school before the shocking recent events. After all they are going to a new grade, a different class, meeting new teachers and new children in their class. Parents also have some anxiety about how well their children will fit into the new classroom and what will the new teacher be like etc..
The anxiety level of children with disabilities can be up even higher because they know they're not like everyone else. When your young and insecure in new situations, being with people like oneself is easier. Actually I have to say that I don't think it's that much different with older people. I think it's part of our makeup to be more comfortable with people that are like ourselves. And people can feel threatened and ill at ease at first with people who are different.
I think part of the problem is because they don't know enough about the new and different people. They don't know what to say, or how to react to people who are different from those they know. Unfortunately without guidance they may react by ignoring them or bullying them and even physically hurting them.
If bullies come together, they can reinforce their behavior and harden it into a pattern in their life. With reinforcement and a lack of other viewpoints, bullying may become second nature to them into adulthood in the office or home not just the classroom or schoolyard. With the right situation and attitude, this can develop into violence, or a hate crime.
But what about the children that are being bullied. What happens to them over their lifetime. And we're talking about children with disabilities in this blog but I want to be clear that I know it's not only children with disabilities who are bullied. Many children that are very bright, poor or very shy and sensitive can also be targets for bullying or shunning as well. Any difference can draw bullying.
But 80% of children who have disabilities are bullied. And since 1975 after the Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) youth ages 3-21 with disabilities (5.3 million) were required to be provided a free and appropriate public school education. By 2009, 95% of 6 to 21 year old students with disabilities were in regular schools, 3% were in separate schools, 1% in private schools by parents and 1% in a separate residential facility. Of those in regular schools approximately 72 % spent a substantial amount of time in regular classrooms.
Children with Developmental Delay, Autism, Hearing or Vision impairments , Speech or language disorders, orthopedic, neurological, intellectual , emotional or other health impairments are all in our public schools. These children or young adults are there to learn the academic subjects but they also will learn their worth in our society. Socialization occurs in this setting which can effect a child's self esteem as much as success in the subject matter.
Children that are disabled are just more fragile because they have more to overcome. But all children who are bullied in school in the early grades especially are affected detrimentally in their academics and the development of social awareness, maturity and feelings of competence. They have to learn over time when to put up that tough skin to protect themselves from bullies. In fact there are organizations and clinics to help these children outside of the school environment. That some make up for it very well is encouraging. Self esteem is critical to learning and success in life.
It is critical that children and young adults with disabilities have a quality education geared toward their strengths and accommodating their weak areas. Children become adults with disabilities and want and need to go out into the world, support themselves and have as full a life as possible.
Unfortunately they have a much higher rate of unemployment. As of July 2013 the unemployment rate is 14.7% v.7.4 for the non-disabled. And even more significant 8 out of 10 Americans with disabilities are out of the workforce. And shockingly hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities earn much less than the minimum wage in segregated work.
What we are talking about is equal rights for the disabled. Over many decades the disabled have been targeted both for assistive help and for discrimination. But mostly for discrimination and at times elimination. See the Disability Timeline: http://isc.temple.edu/neighbor/ds/disabilityrightstimeline.htm
Today we have built up a body of laws to positively give equal rights to the disabled in our country . Yet attitudes of some people have not caught up with what's right, just and humane, to say nothing of legal. The bullying of students in school has become so serious a threat to these students being able to have an equal right to an education that the The United States Dept. of Education has sent a letter to all schools. In the letter is an overview of the school's responsibility under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in regards to the bullying of a disabled student. See copy here:
But parents are equality important to protect against unfair bullying of anyone. It's repulsive to me to pick on a person who thru no fault of their own is different. What kind of a society are we? Kindness, empathy, learning about people who are different. To me this is what we should strive to be. Not mean spirited,cruel and closed off to new ways of looking at the world around us.
As parents send their children off to school it's a perfect time to discuss this bullying issue . This is an important time emphasize what you know is the right behavior to your children. My parents did with me and I did with my children. How about you? This can make a difference to a lot of children.
"Whether small or large.
moments of grace
shape who we are."
There is so much that is dispiriting and depressing in our world today.Sometimes it can really get to me. This is how I have been feeling lately. Then on Twitter came a note about the Special Olympic Winter Games going on. I went onto sites to check out what I knew would lift my spirits and it did.Read on and I'm sure it will you too.
For eight days of competition by 3,000 athletes from 111 countries the motto of the Special Olympics "Together We Can " was so apparent. This year the Special Olympics Winter Games was held in Pyeongchang, So. Korea.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyl from Burma spoke at the opening ceremonies . She also delivered the keynote address on achieving human rights for those with Intellectual Disabilities at the first Special Olympics Global Development Summit.
After the Summit when she came back to the games many people asked her why ? Her answer was "why not!" Then she stated "for celebrating the supremacy of the human spirit they are the most touching, most inspiring " of the hundreds of public events she attends each year.
USA Snowshoeing event
US Woman's Snow shoeing Event
USA Snowboarding Event
USA Speedskating Event
"By celebrating the Special Olympics we are celebrating the beauty that is in everyone, not the random standard that society is selling us to make us feel safe. We are asked to take a chance and see the amazing accomplishments of each individual. We are giving a chance for all children to enjoy the spirit of competition in sport. We are allowing all parents to cheer for their children's achievements. We are seeing the beauty that is in every living being."
Isaac Zablocki from "A More Inclusive World " blog on the Huffington Post
For more information and inspiration from the 2013 Special Olympic World Winter Games go to http://www.specialolympicsteamusa.org/2013/team-announcements/2013-world-winter-games-complete
Save it and be inspired now and when your down in the future!!
For a prior blog on the Special Olympics go to: http://www.saratogaareas.com/ellie/blog3.php/they-run-for-the-special-olympics
Be well. Spring is coming soon.
Again another summer run for Special Olympics down my street! This is one of many events across our country that have been repeated for 42 years in our country.
Year by year other countries (now 180) around the world started to partipate in the Special Olympic movement for those with intellectual disabilities. In fact the Special Olympics is fastest growing grass roots volunteer movement on the planet . They are the world's largest public health organization serving 200,000,000 people with intellectual disabilities (3 percent of the global population).
How has this happened that one women (Eunice Kennedy Shriver) developed a sports program for the intellectually challenged in her backyard to where it is today. Obviously a total commitment and determination on her part.
But it had to be more than that. And it was to see the joy of a sense of accomplishment on the face of one of the athletes, to watch the athletes determination to work hard to get better, to realize that you didn't have to win, it was the effort you put in that mattered. And then one could see that there was a carryover in these athletes ability to function in the community due to these events. Then gradually society itself began to have a different opinion of people with Intellectual disabilities.
In some ways there is still a long way to go for the intellectually disabled to be fully included in society with equal opportunities for a full and productive life. But look how far we've come.
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