Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pay It Forward: Handy Links

It never ceases to amaze me how an idea for a post can morph into something entirely different the moment pen meets paper. My original intention was to post a list of handy tips and resources I've culled from the Internet over the past few months.

I thought I'd add a few more links to my already burgeoning list, so yesterday I went online in search of blog posts or websites that offer information on making life a little easier, especially for parents of intellectually disabled children. And then I stumbled upon the FOX 4 News website.

“Fox 4 News is Working for You with an uplifting new series of stories. It's called "Pay It Forward," and we're giving you the chance to help change someone's life. Each week, FOX 4's Kathy Quinn shows us what happens when someone you don't expect steps up at just the right time to make someone else's life a little easier. You'll be amazed at the way you'll feel when you help us "Pay It Forward." "

I loved the concept, but as my husband often says, what's not to love? Somehow I ended up at the Random Acts of Kindness site. After scrolling down their 100 Ideas for Kindness, I realized that it’s the little gestures that sometimes count the most. “Laughing out loud often, and sharing your smile generously”; and "Extend a hand to someone in need. Give your full attention and simply listen" are two examples that are easy to put into action.

So it occurred to me that my small gesture of the day could be a list of links that I think provide real value:

  1. Helpful blog posts from Beginning Reading Help.
  2. Tips for teaching personal hygiene in young children with intellectual disability. in young children with intellectual disability.
  3. Try This Tuesday: Showers of Independence Terri, author of Barriers, Bridges and Books, shares tips on hygiene. (‘Try This Tuesday’ is devoted to “sharing solutions that make life easier.”)
  4. Resources, support and help for the child with developmental disabilities. (About.com: Special Education).
  5. Procedures for Reducing Dental Fear in Children with Autism.
  6. Tips for Successful Haircutting, Autism Speaks:
  7. Differently Abled!: This web site is based on a guide that Amazon.com and Toys R' Us created. It is used to help people select toys for children with different abilities.
  8. Musical potty training for kids with autism.
  9. The President's Choice Children's Charity: Offers financial assistance to purchase equipment or services to families who have children born with disabilities.
  10. Canada Benefits Website: Government-wide information about benefit programs and services for individuals.

That’s it for now. I'll save the rest for another time.

What about you? Do you have a pay-it-forward idea? Or a handy tip that you’d like to share with us?

Young Girl Helping Others via Noolmusic.com

Photo: latddotcom. Taken in Central Square, Cambridge, MA, outside 1369 Coffee Shop, during the Stranger Exchange's first week of launch (October 2009).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

With a Little Help From My Friends

"Every gift from a friend is a wish for your happiness..." ~ Richard Bach

In "The IDEAL WAY to Cook: Food for Thought," Jim Daabous gave the reader some insight into his nephew, Robert Hajjar.

"Well, what can I remember most? It has to be my nephew's desire to drive. Drive anything. It all started with a big wheel, the three wheeler with the large front wheel. When he was just a little guy, the two of us would go for a long walk/ride. Me on one side and him on the other, taking up the whole sidewalk. Crazy thing is, he never looked ahead, only down and/or to the side. Loved to watch the ground go by beneath him. All the while, running over anything in his way, or worse, my feet. As he got to be a better "driver," he graduated to shopping carts. Beware anybody who got in front of him, you were fair game, as the cart's front wheels peeled the skin off your ankles. Now resigned to the fact that he won't drive a car, he has his mother sit in the backseat of the car when his family goes on a trip, while he and his father sit up front. You need a good navigator, you know."

Robert Hajjar recently gave a speech to students at Sacred Heart CHS, in Newmarket. He mentioned the fact that he has always liked to be first in everything. “Especially the buffet table,” he said, and smiled.

What he didn’t mention was that he also puts his friends and family first. “I see all of you as my friends,” he told the riveted audience at Sacred Heart.

As founder of IDEAL-WAY, Robert was speaking on behalf of Best Buddies. (Sacred Heart has one of the largest contingents of volunteer students for Best Buddies.) After he gave his speech – and received a standing ovation – student members of Best Buddies and their developmentally challenged friends got up on stage and wowed the crowd with a rousing dance number to “I’ve Gotta Feeling”, by The Black Eyed Peas.

As they strutted their stuff on the stage, it got me thinking about what it means to be a true friend and why it’s so important to have at least one person you can connect with on a deep level.

Best Buddies is grounded in the belief that friendship is important to the development of all individuals and that for all people with intellectual disabilities friendship is a medium through which they can become a part of their communities… For a person with an intellectual disability, friendship helps to ease the isolation, disempowerment or loneliness that often deepens the challenges that he or she faces daily. By having a student friend, Buddies are able to explore their world with a peer who brings empathy, laughter and support.”

Of course, friends are essential when you’re hanging off the edge of a cliff by your fingernails.

“Although they have known each other for just a few months, Baldwin High School students Heather Paranada and Rachel Barrett know the true meaning of friendship. As peer buddies in the Best Buddies Chapter at Baldwin, they are part of Best Buddies Hawai‘i. Rachel is not only intellectually disabled, but she also has a condition called Kyphoscoliosis…[which is] a curving of the spine that causes a bowing of the back, with scoliosis, a condition in which the spine curves away from the middle, or sideways.”

Rachel was told she would need to have a “very difficult” operation. Rachel bravely traveled to the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia, Penn., to undergo two surgeries. At their first meeting, Heather presented Rachel with a teddy bear, necklace and bracelet to take on her trip and comfort her throughout her surgeries. “I wasn’t able to say bye to her at the airport before she left, but I did call her to say goodbye and she was sad,” she said. “But I told her it’s not goodbye, it’s ‘see you later.’” “I’ve been emailing her since she left, and Mrs. Barrett has been updating all of us of Rachel’s condition,” she said. “Everyone at Best Buddies is really pulling for Rachel and awaiting her return to Maui,” said McCormick. “They are following Rachel’s progress very closely.” " [Excerpt from The Maui Weekly, by Sarah Ruppenthal.]

In the first post of this blog, I wrote that "Rob is a reminder to shine your light into every corner of your world. And don't be afraid to offer whatever gifts you have. The beauty contained in a simple act of love will transform every life around you."

Photo: Matthew Amos.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Diamond in the Sand

Written by Ann Racioppo, from the book, "Convalescent Heart".

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” 1Cor. 1:27

Diamond in the Sand

Born into the world, just like you and me
Alike, yet so different his life it would be;
At first, hard to see, all the doctors had said
We wanted to deny all his struggles ahead.
Was greeted with mourning revealed in each face;
But this little one, born with his health on the line
Was surrounded by angels, and God’s perfect design
Carefully placed, by God in our care
Trusting the Master, when it didn’t seem fair
It wasn’t a fluke, why it happened this way—
Teach me, dear Lord, how to trust and to pray
What seems like a loss, God turns for a win;
Let go of the fear, and turn it over to Him
He knows that what others do in such a short time
An ocean to swim—for him—a mountain to climb.
Every day a new challenge, to teach him so much;
But he’s really teaching me, with his innocent touch,
So close to God’s heart, and loves similar to Him
He’ll never cause grief, by falling deep into sin.
And when I feel sad, and not quite like myself,
His hugs bring me comfort, like God, Himself.
What the world viewed, as tragic and loss,
Was instrumental in bringing me to the cross.
Man looks at the outside, but God sees the heart;
He created each one, like a rare piece of art.
Whatever the cross, that you have to bear,
Remember God promised His Grace to be there.
He’ll never allow more than you can endure,
Surrender to Him, gain victory sure,
No matter how far you may have to run,
He’ll go the distance, which means you have won!

Dedicated to all parents of children who are developmentally challenged.

Ann Racioppo ©

Photo: killerajet

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