Have a lower leg injury? Don’t just sit there and suffer, get moving!

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iwalkfree

LOS ANGELES, Calif.– Each year, there are millions of people who end up with lower leg injuries. Those who have experienced it know all too well the way it can make something like mobility a new challenge to conquer.

Yet the majority of people need to still be able to get around to go to school, work, run errands, and just continue to participate in life. Time and duties don’t come to a halt with a lower leg injury, so knowing how to get around easier can make a world of difference.

“The last thing people want when they have a lower leg injury is to be holed up in the house and stuck on the couch waiting it out,” explains Brad Hunter, the innovator of iWALK2.0 and the chief executive officer of the company, iWALKFree, Inc.  “There are things people can do to help make it easier during this challenging period. Taking steps to make it easier will help keep people more mobile and less frustrated.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, there are 6.5 million people in the country who need to use some type of device to assist with their mobility. Here are some tips for helping make mobility easier while having a lower leg injury:

1. Consider using the iWalk2.0. Those who use crutches often find that they make mobility more challenging. They keep both hands busy, making it difficult to carry things or even open doors. The iWALK2.0 has been designed to help people easily get around with their lower leg injury and at the same time do so hands-free.

2. Plan ahead. Taking the time to plan out errands and tasks will give people an opportunity to determine which will be the easiest routes and schedules to take. Planning ahead will help people stay organized, determine the routes that are the best for increasing mobility, and will reduce the stress of backtracking.

3. Ask for help. Many people shy away from asking others for help. They don’t want to burden them or feel like they are being a pest. The truth is that most people won’t mind one bit helping out. Don’t shy away from asking for help when it is needed.

4. Look for obstacles. When you arrive at your destination, take a moment to scan the area for what could be potential obstacles. If you know stairs will be difficult, for example, or if you see the sidewalk is blocked off for repair, determine the best way to navigate around it before approaching the area.

5. Getting around. If your lower leg injury is preventing you from being able to drive, determine your other options. Ask friends and family members for rides, and if that is not an option check with your local bus company to see what they can provide. Many public transportation systems offer a home pickup and drop-off option for those in need.

“The important thing to remember is that this is a temporary challenge and you can take measures that will help to make mobility easier during it,” adds Hunter. “We routinely hear from people who love how the iWALK2.0 has made their mobility easier. Our system has helped countless people to navigate the challenge of a lower leg injury with more ease and confidence.”

The IWALK2.0 was developed as a way to help make healing from a lower leg injury more comfortable and to increase the ease of mobility. The original prototype was created by a farmer in Canada.  The concept continued to develop, and the iWALK2.0 was launched in late 2013. Sales really took off when Harrison Ford was photographed wearing it.

The iWALK2.0 is hands-free, easy to learn to use, it’s intuitive, and safe. From the knee up, the leg is doing the same walking motion that comes naturally to it. The device is essentially a temporary lower leg, which gives people their independence and mobility back as they recover from an injury. The device is pain-free, and makes it possible for people to engage in many of their normal routine activities, such as walking the dog, grocery shopping, and walking up or down stairs.

Clinical research, the results of which are on the company website, shows that patients using the iWALK2.0 heal faster, and have a higher sense of satisfaction and a higher rate of compliance. The iWALK2.0 sells for $149 and is available online and through select retailers. Some insurance companies may cover the cost of the device. The device can be used with a cast or boot, and comes with a limited warranty. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at: http://iwalk-free.com. To see a video of the iWALK2.0 in action, visit: iWalkFree

About iWALKFree
The iWALK2.0 is a hands-free knee crutch, made by iWALKFree, Inc.  It’s a mobility device used instead of traditional crutches and knee scooters. It offers more comfort and independence, with the hands and arms remaining free. The device offers people a functional and independent lifestyle as they are recovering from many common lower leg injuries. For more information on the iWALK2.0, visit the site at: http://iwalk-free.com

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Source:

National Institute of Health: How many people use assistive devices? https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/rehabtech/conditioninfo/people

STEM Professor Receives Award to Study Technologies for Disability Community

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Ashley Shew standing on porch with arm around pillar smiling

By Leslie King

The trichotillomania bracelet looks unassuming, just like any other smart technology worn around the wrist. But rather than counting steps or heartbeats, it serves another purpose.

The wristlet vibrates an alarm when it tracks the user subconsciously beginning to pull out strands of hair. For those with trichotillomania, instead of following the compulsion to yank out their hair, the wireless device helps them notice the gestures and change their behavior.

This tool, along with other technologies for the disability community, intrigues Ashley Shew, an assistant professor in the Virginia Tech Department of Science, Technology, and Society. In July 2018, she received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award that will allow her to investigate the personal accounts of people with disabilities, as well as their opinions of the technologies designed for them.

The prestigious honor, given to junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research and education, is better known as the CAREER award.

“I’m interested in the storylines that disabled people tell about their bodies and how their relationships with technology differ from popular and dominant narratives we have in our society,” said Shew, who herself identifies as disabled.

Her research focuses on discrepancies between how scientists and engineers understand and explain their work related to disability and the actual needs and wants of people with disabilities. Shew said there is a disconnect between media-based depictions and reality within the realm of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and technology design.

“This means people aren’t always designing with real users in mind, but with ideas about what users want based on the entertainment media,” she said. “This is problematic because nondisabled people create and depict disabled people. There is little authentic disability representation in the media, so all these media-driven narratives about technology get fed into engineering.”

Shew cites several misleading media-supported tropes. Negative stereotypes encourage the public to view disabled people with pity, as sinners or fakers, or as resource burdens. And while the trichotillomania bracelet is small and unobtrusive, many technologies, such as wheelchairs or exoskeletons, are not. Some people who could benefit from viable supportive devices might shy away from them to avoid public skepticism or castigation.

And the reverse depictions are just as misrepresentative.

“There are also tropes about inspiration and courage,” Shew said. “The one people lean on, which I’ll be assessing through this grant, involves a focus on inspiration and courage, along the lines of, ‘You’re such an inspiration because you’re disabled in public.’ If you’re not inspiring, you’re courageous to overcome what you’re overcoming. If we believe you’re truly disabled, then if you’re out having a regular life, you’re considered heroic in ways that don’t map onto real life at all.”

Designers often create technologies with this trope in mind. An example of this is a surge of 3D-printed hands for young amputees. Marketed with terms such as “superhero” hands or arms, the branding presents these children as different from people without disabilities. Shew describes this phenomenon as techno-ableism, when technology makers try to empower others with helpful tools but use rhetoric that has the opposite effect. As part of her CAREER award, Shew will publish a book about this phenomenon.

Shew will also seek to counter unrealistic portrayals of people with disabilities by educating creators of disability technologies. Her research will incorporate interviews, memoirs, and the compilation of existing materials into classroom public outreach, an open-access website, and a textbook to complement existing STEM educational resources.

Shew is collaborating with Alexander Leonessa and Raffaella De Vita, associate professors in the College of Engineering, who have also received CAREER awards. In 2019, she will work with them through Virginia Tech’s STEMABILTY, a summer camp for students with disabilities.

A Virginia Tech faculty member since 2011, Shew received a Certificate of Teaching Excellence in 2017 and a Diversity Award in 2016, both from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Also in 2016, she received the Sally Bohland Award for Excellence in Access and Inclusion from the Virginia Tech office of Services for Students with Disabilities.

Shew co-edited Spaces for the Future: A Companion to Philosophy of Technology with Joseph Pitt, a Virginia Tech professor of philosophy. She is also the author of Animal Constructions and Technological Knowledge, published by Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield.

Shew is the fourth faculty member in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences to receive the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award in the past several years.

Source: vtnews.vt.edu

 

Northrop Grumman Named a 2018 “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” and Receives the “Employer of the Year: Inspire Award”

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Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has received the highest ranking for the fourth year in a row on the Disability Equality Index (DEI), and it received the Employer of the Year: Inspire Award, recognizing the company for its exemplary policies, strategies and initiatives that have resulted in measureable results in the areas of disability inclusiveness in the workplace, marketplace and supply chain.

The DEI is an initiative between the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and Disability:IN (formerly the US Business Leadership Network), jointly designed by disability advocates and business leaders and it is a trusted, comprehensive benchmarking tool for disability inclusion. The Index measures key performance indicators across organizational culture, leadership, accessibility, employment, community engagement, support services and supplier diversity.

Northrop Grumman received the Employer of the Year: Inspire Award for being a top employer for advancing its disability inclusion journey and strategies and practices that have produced measurable success in many areas. The award recognized the leadership of Wes Bush, Northrop Grumman chairman and chief executive officer and the company’s self-identification campaign launched in 2014, the centralized workplace accommodations online request portal and the case management system program started in 2015.

In the 2017 DEI ranking, the company’s Victory Over Impairment and Challenge Enterprise (VOICE) employee resource group was recognized with a Disability:IN leadership award as the program which most exemplifies strategies and initiatives that have resulted in measurable results in the area of disability inclusion in the workplace. Northrop Grumman’s VOICE organization strives to develop a sense of community and empowerment among individuals with disabilities (both apparent and non-apparent), advocates and employees with family members with a disability.

“We are very pleased with our progress on disability inclusion and the success of our programs,” said Sandra Evers-Manly, Northrop Grumman’s vice president of global corporate responsibility, and president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation. “Our senior leadership commitment and the involvement of our employees have helped us to create a work environment that values diversity and inclusion and employees with disabilities are an important component of our diverse population.”

Northrop Grumman Named a 2018 “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” and Receives the “Employer of the Year: Inspire Award”
Sandra Evers-Manly (center), Northrop Grumman vice president of global corporate responsibility, and president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation, receives the Inspire Award, for being a Top Employer for advancing disability inclusion strategies and practices. Presenting the award were Ben-Saba Hasan, senior vice president and chief culture, diversity and inclusion officer, Walmart Inc. (left); and Jill Houghton, president and chief executive officer of Disability:IN.

Northrop Grumman actively seeks to attract and retain employees of all abilities because of the value they bring to the workplace. Some initiatives include an online accommodation tool for requests and case tracking; increased accessibility of our website, including the careers section; expanded accessibility at our locations; and adoption of a more focused approach for posting job requisitions with disability related job boards.

Additionally, Northrop Grumman’s Operation IMPACT (Injured Military Pursuing Assisted Career Transition) program, which was created in 2005, provides personalized placement assistance, community outreach and workplace accommodations for severely injured service members transitioning to civilian employment. In 2009 Northrop Grumman established the Operation IMPACT Network of Champions, a group of more than 110 companies and partners that share job candidates, best practices and create wider opportunities for veterans with disabilities.

More information on the Disability:IN and AAPD rankings can be found here: https://www.disabilityequalityindex.org/top_companies

Third year in a row Northrop Grumman has been recognized by the National Organization on Disability (NOD) for its exemplary disability hiring and employment practices

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has been named a 2018 National Organization on Disability Leading Disability Employer™ for its leadership in disability hiring and its commitment to building a disability inclusive workforce.

NOD Leading Disability Employers are chosen based on data furnished by the companies in response to the NOD Disability Employment Tracker™, a confidential assessment that benchmarks companies’ disability inclusion programs for climate and culture; people practices; talent sourcing; workplace and technology; and strategy and metrics. Results from the tracker are prioritized based on historic disability employment outcomes and percentage of people with disabilities in their workforce.

“Technology companies succeed or fail based on the intellectual capital we recruit and retain,” said Wes Bush, chairman and chief executive officer, Northrop Grumman. “Individuals with disabilities comprise a resource of incredible value and they add an important aspect to the diversity of the global workforce. It is vital for the business community to understand the extraordinary value of this talent pool.”

In August, Northrop Grumman received the highest ranking for the fourth year in a row on the Disability Equality Index, a ranking produced by the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disability:IN. The company also received their Employer of the Year award for significant policies, strategies and initiatives that have resulted in measureable results in disability inclusiveness in the workplace.

“Northrop Grumman actively seeks to attract and retain employees of all abilities because of the value they bring to the workplace,” said Sandra Evers-Manly, Northrop Grumman’s vice president of global corporate responsibility, and president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation. “Our senior leadership commitment and the involvement of our employees have helped us to create a work environment that values diversity and inclusion and employees with disabilities are an important component of our diverse population.”

Some Northrop Grumman initiatives supporting employees with disabilities include an online accommodation tool for requests and case tracking; increased accessibility of our website, including the careers section; expanded accessibility at our locations; and adoption of a more focused approach for posting job requisitions with disability related job boards.

Additionally, Northrop Grumman’s Operation IMPACT (Injured Military Pursuing Assisted Career Transition) program, which was created in 2005, provides personalized placement assistance, community outreach and workplace accommodations for severely injured service members transitioning to civilian employment. In 2009, Northrop Grumman established the Operation IMPACT Network of Champions, a group of 90 companies and partners that share job candidates, best practices and create wider opportunities for veterans with disabilities.

NOD is a private, nonprofit organization that seeks to increase employment opportunities for the 80 percent of working-age Americans with disabilities who are not employed. To achieve this goal, NOD offers a suite of employment solutions, tailored to meet leading companies’ workforce needs. For more information visit www.NOD.org.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in autonomous systems, cyber, C4ISR, space, strike, and logistics and modernization to customers worldwide. Please visit news.northropgrumman.com and follow us on Twitter, @NGCNews, for more information.

For a Brighter Future—Advocate Stevie Wonder still keeping the dream alive

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Stevie Wonder performs onstage during The Stevie Wonder Song Party at The Peppermint Club

By Erica Sabino

The world may know Stevie Wonder as a legendary musical artist, but not everyone is aware of the many ways in which he influences the community beyond sharing his love for music. While music does play a big part in his life, the 25-time GRAMMY Award winner’s impact reaches way beyond the music industry and the people who listen to his work.

He may be a celebrity, but Stevie Wonder is one famous figure who uses his popularity to influence positive change in the world for all people, for generations to come.

Stevland Hardaway Judkins was born on May 13, 1950, in Saginaw, Michigan. Born prematurely, he experienced complications with the growth of blood vessels in his retinas, causing his blindness. That, however, did not hinder the child prodigy from learning to play multiple instruments at a young age. From the harmonica to the drums to the piano, Stevie taught himself how to play them all before he reached the age of 10. He was also singing in his church choir by that time.

Stevie’s entrance to the music industry did not begin until he was discovered by singer and songwriter Ronnie White of The Miracles. He was then introduced to Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records, was given an audition, and later signed to the record label. It was Gordy who dubbed Stevie “Little Stevie Wonder,” which was changed to “Stevie Wonder” as he grew older.

And what a wonder he was. According to his biography in Rolling Stone, “[Stevie’s] third single, ‘Fingertips (Part 2)’ was a number 1 pop and R&B hit eight months later. Both on records and in live shows, he was featured playing harmonica, drums, piano, and organ, as well as singing—sometimes all in one number. During his first three years in show business, Wonder was often compared to Ray Charles—much was made of the fact that both were blind.”

Stevie Wonder, sons Kailand Morris and Mandla Morris, and designer Kai Milla attend the 4th Annual Kailand Obasi Hoop-Life Fundraiser at USC
Recording artist Stevie Wonder, sons Kailand Morris and Mandla Morris, and designer Kai Milla attend the 4th Annual Kailand Obasi Hoop-Life Fundraiser (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

But Stevie’s brilliance was his own. As he broke out into his career, Wonder became self-sufficient inthe studio—writing his own music, playing his own instruments and even producing his own work. Noted in his Rolling Stone biography, the Signed, Sealed, Delivered singer also distinguished himself with music and lyrics “with such socially conscious subjects as ghetto hardship and political disenfranchisement.” It was not surprising that he was a lifelong advocate of nonviolent political change patterned after Martin Luther King Jr.

Stevie met Martin Luther King Jr. at a rally when he was just 15 years old. Three years following MLK’s assassination, Stevie joined in the decade-long movement to pass a bill that would make King’s birthday a national holiday. He composed the song “Happy Birthday,” which became a rallying song for the initiative. According to journalist Marcus Baram in an article at Cuepoint on Medium.com, “Wonder put his career on hold, led rallies from coast to coast, and galvanized millions of Americans with his passion and integrity.”

“Why should I be involved in this great cause?” Wonder asked as he addressed the crowd at an MLK rally. “As an artist, my purpose is to communicate the message that can better improve the lives of all of us.”

Through his career, Stevie Wonder created a platform to not only share his talents but also make a difference and inspire others to do the same. His many accomplishments can be attributed to his drive, his perseverance, and his determination, both as a musician and an advocate for the causes he believes in.

A true philanthropist, Stevie Wonder promotes AIDS awareness, donates to humanitarian relief efforts, and holds an annual House Full of Toys benefit concert to provide toys for children in need. Wonder has also worked on the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, Junior Blind of America and the creation of the Wonder Vision Awards Program.

Zucchero, James Taylor, Trudie Styler, Elton John,Lyle Lovett, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder, Shawn Colvin, & Sting at the Carnegie Hall in New York, New York
Zucchero, James Taylor, Trudie Styler, Elton John,Lyle Lovett, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder, Shawn Colvin, & Sting at the Carnegie Hall in New York, New York (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

In 2009, Wonder was named a UN Messenger of Peace, with a focus on persons with disabilities by the United Nations in 2009. At the news conference to announce his new position, then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon had this to say of Wonder: “I recognize that he has consistently used his voice and special relationship with the public to create a better and more inclusive world, to defend civil and human rights, and to improve the lives of those less fortunate. Stevie Wonder is a true inspiration to young people all over the world about what can be achieved, despite any physical limitations.” In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded Wonder the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Wonder was asked by The Guardian if he had ever considered “that it’s his ‘disadvantages’—being born blind and black—that have made him what he is.” To this, the award-winning artist responded, “You know, it’s funny, but I never thought of being blind as a disadvantage, and I never thought of being black as a disadvantage. I am what I am. I love me! And I don’t mean that egotistically—I love that God has allowed me to take whatever it was that I had and make something out of it.”

Stevie has found success both on and off the stage. Whether he is going on Twitter to encourage people to share their dreams, performing at the dedication ceremony of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, attending a conference to learn about assistive technologies for the blind or visually impaired, or advocating for an international disabilities treaty, Wonder has continuously taken steps to make a positive impact with everything he does.

In 2013, Stevie met with young Viet Nam’s Got Talent singer Crystal (real name: Nguyen Phoung Anh) at the United Nations General Assembly to push jointly for greater inclusion for children with disabilities. Crystal, now 21, became a singing sensation when she auditioned for the popular show in 2012. She was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, or “glass-bone disease,” a genetic disorder causing fragile bones. “My bones have broken 30 times or more,” she says. “We stopped counting, because we thought it didn’t matter anymore.” The 16-year-old adds, “Crystal is my alter ego, because it is fragile and shiny.”

“No one should be excluded because they’re blind, or because of any disability or because of their status or their color,” Wonder said. “We cannot allow our differences to let our fear put dreams to sleep.”

In 2017, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) announced the presentation of the first Key of Life award to Stevie Wonder for his groundbreaking “contributions to the world through his music.” According to the association, future recipients of this honor will be given to “songwriters and composers who best exemplify [Stevie’s] legacy through their commitment to the art form he elevated through his talent, dedication and unparalleled heart.”

Stevie Wonder is a man who is driven by his beliefs. “You need to put your heart into making a difference,” Stevie told The Guardian. Upon receiving his key of Life Award, Wonder had this to say about an artist’s social power: “There’s always power in the work… So those of us who have been blessed with the gift of expression, don’t be afraid to express your truth. But do it with love. When you think about it, music is probably the most integrated thing that we have. We’re all influenced by each other.”

With Stevie, it’s not just his music that inspires others but also the man that he is. His actions and words go hand in hand in nurturing a movement to help make the world a kinder place. He has become a true inspiration for people all over the world.

MTV to Chronicle Disability Activist’s Quest to Travel Into Space

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Eddie Ndopu

Eddie Ndopu wants to become the first physically disabled person to travel to space. MTV will follow a South African activist on his quest to become the first physically disabled person to travel to space.

Eddie Ndopu, 27, was born with spinal muscular atrophy and given a life span of five years. He has obviously exceeded that, going on to earn a master’s degree in public policy from Oxford and has spent more than a decade advocating for the rights of disabled young people.

Now Ndopu is hoping to travel to space and deliver a message from above Earth to the U.N. General Assembly, sending “a powerful message on behalf of young people everywhere who have ever felt excluded by society.” MTV cameras will follow him as he enlists an aerospace company to facilitate the mission and chronicle his thoughts and emotions as the launch approaches. The cabler will also document his voyage and message to the United Nations.

The project was announced ahead of the International Day of Persons With Disabilities on Dec. 3.

Continue on to The Hollywood Reporter to read the complete article.

World Disability Day 2018 Focuses On Equal Opportunities And Inclusiveness For People With Disability

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World Disability Day 2018 is meant to promote rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of development and society.

December 3 is observed as International Day of Persons with Disabilities or World Disability Day. Commemoration of this day was done by United Nations General Assembly resolution in 1992. The day is meant to promote rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of development and society. The idea is to increase awareness about persons with disabilities, their situation and their means to survive in cultural, economic, social and political life. On this day, awareness is spread on how organisations and individuals can get involved in breaking down attitudinal and structural barriers for people with disability.

Around 1 billion people around the world live with a disability. This number makes for around 15% of the global population. On World Disability Day, celebrations are done for achievements of people with disabilities.

World Disability Day 2018 theme

World Disability Day 2018 theme is, “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.” According to the United Nations, The theme focuses on empowering persons with disability with equal opportunities and inclusiveness. The idea is to empower them with equitable, inclusive and sustainable development as part of Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030.

The 2030 agenda aims at including every single person with disability, and leave no one behind. Persons with disabilities can be both beneficiaries and agents of change. They can speed up the process of sustainable development which is inclusive in nature. They can promote a society which is resilient for all, including in the context of disaster risk reduction and humanitarian action.

Continue onto NDTV to read the complete article.

A Kent State recruit is the first player with autism to earn a scholarship for a Division 1 NCAA team sport

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Kalin Bennett

A Kent State basketball recruit will become the first player with autism to earn a scholarship for a Division 1 NCAA team sport when he joins the team next year.

Kalin Bennett, an 18-year-old from Little Rock, Arkansas, was recruited by several schools, but chose Kent State University not only for its basketball team but for its dedication to autism awareness, his mother, Sonja Bennett, told INSIDER.

Bennett, a 6’10”, 300-pound center, signed a letter of intent to join Kent State’s team earlier this month, according to Cleveland.com.

Now Bennett, who is attending a gap year program at Link Year Prep in Branson, Missouri, wants to use his platform to inspire others.
“It feels good to be able to make history like this,” Bennett told INSIDER. “It feels good to hear stories about other people struggling with autism looking up to me.”

He hopes that his rebound talents, positive attitude and ability to be a team player will help Kent State succeed next season.
“They someone who can hoop — and I can hoop,” he said.

Doctors didn’t know if Bennett would ever speak or walk

As a child, doctors that Bennett would remain nonverbal throughout his life, and early diagnosis suggested he may never walk. But Bennett prevailed, and through hard work and therapy he overcame his struggles to become the basketball player he is today.

His coach at Link Year, Adam Donyes, said Bennett is the glue that holds his team together.

Continue on The Insider to read the complete article.

WHILL Model Ci Earns Spot on TIME’s Best Inventions of 2018 List

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TIME-Best Inventions

WHILL, Inc. recently announced their Model Ci personal electric vehicle (EV) received top accolades from one of the nation’s most esteemed publications, TIME, as one of the “50 Best Inventions of 2018.” The annual list hit newsstands, Friday, November 16.

TIME noted that the Model Ci “Empowers its users,” and was selected out of hundreds of editor and expert submissions from around the world including online applications. To choose the top 50 best inventions for the annual list, TIME carefully evaluated each contender on key factors, including originality, creativity, influence, ambition and effectiveness. According to the publication, the list highlights groundbreaking inventions that are changing the way we live, work, play and think about what’s possible.

Debuted in January 2018 at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the Model Ci enables people who have difficulty walking to experience movement in a new way, gaining newfound freedom and confidence to further participate and engage in the activities they love. This innovative personal EV disassembles in seconds for easy transport, offers best-in-class indoor/outdoor versatility, provides a variety of adjustments for maximum comfort, and is equipped with the latest in technology, such as Bluetooth and mobile data connectivity, creating additional peace-of-mind for both the user and their loved ones.

This year, the Model Ci also received the CES 2018 “Best of Innovation Award” in the Accessibility Tech category, and was an Engadget “Best of CES 2018” finalist. Additionally, WHILL was recognized by Fast Company as one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Robotics for 2018.

The Model Ci’s MSRP is $3,999 USD and is available nationwide and in Canada through WHILL’s premier reseller network, as well as through online partners such as shop.scootaround.com and spinlife.com. The Model Ci is also available for conference, land and cruise rentals at major metros and ports through scootaround.com.

About WHILL

Since its founding in 2012, WHILL’s mission is to transform today’s antiquated power wheelchair and scooter experiences into a new kind of empowering devices, intelligent personal electric vehicles (EVs). WHILL is reinventing the personal mobility industry with personal EVs that focus on an approachable and aesthetically pleasing powered vehicles that boosts confidence and pushes the boundaries of personal transportation. Headquartered in Yokohama, Japan with offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taiwan and EU, WHILL is focused on enabling everyone to explore the world in comfort and style.

Continue on to WHILL to read the complete article

From One Goal to the Next

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Parker Thornton about to Go Over the Edge

A crowded room quiets as Parker Thornton approaches the podium. He has been tasked with motivating Special Olympics Athlete Health Messengers to commit to being fit every day by working out more, eating healthy, and cutting down on soda.

He starts his speech by proclaiming the three words he says to himself in the mirror every day, “I’m happy, I’m healthy, and I feel fantastic!” Parker let those familiar words calm his nerves at speaking in front of the large crowd. After the speech has concluded, the audience erupts into applause, motivated and encouraged to take on the challenge of living a healthy life.

Parker’s life didn’t start at peak health. As a newborn, he contracted viral meningitis and was hospitalized at Boston’s Children’s Hospital for five weeks, much of it on life support. He survived his first challenge, but the result of the viral meningitis left Parker with significant learning disabilities, which resulted in an anxiety disorder and depression.

When Parker was eight years old, he was introduced to Special Olympics New Hampshire when local families came together to start a ski team for children with intellectual disabilities. That introduction has led to more than 28 years of involvement with Special Olympics. Parker has won numerous gold medals in sports ranging from basketball, golf, skiing, and pentathlons. “I realized that Special Olympics was more than just sports; it taught me how to be a better man, a proficient communicator, and how to be a mentor to other athletes who have their own challenges. Special Olympics tells you how to speak up, get healthy to be a better athlete, and blossom gifts in yourself and others,” Parker said.

Parker recently had an opportunity to make his own life healthier. “I wasn’t happy with my body, and Parker Thornton smiling to the cameraI was depressed,” Parker said. He signed up for a sprint triathlon, which motivated him to train for seven months. Parker lost 20 pounds and was able to go off prescribed medication. Seeing a positive change in his body and completing the triathlon showed Parker that even if it takes hard work, he can accomplish whatever he sets his mind to.

Parker has set his mind to tackling new challenges in the last few years. He speaks frequently on topics related to disabilities, Special Olympics, and the health disparities of people with disabilities. “Inclusive health is such a big issue. No one understands the health differences between people with and without intellectual disabilities. I want to motivate and get people thinking about how they can make changes to better the lives of people with intellectual disabilities,” he said.

Parker is now a consultant for Special Olympics International. He lead an Athlete Health Messenger training for a new cohort of athlete leaders who are tasked with taking the charge for equal access to health for people with disabilities. He co-edits a monthly health newsletter that goes out to thousands of recipients and is continuously tasked with being called upon to give motivational speeches. Speaking fills Parker with a sense of purpose. He wants to motivate others to see people with intellectual disabilities as part of human diversity and should be celebrated as such.

Parker is planning on accomplishing his next goal in 2019: attending professional stunt school in California. “It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to get trained to do professional stunts like you see in the movies,” he said. “I can’t wait to see what’s next.”

Starbucks opens first U.S. sign language store

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The storefronts along Washington’s bustling H Street Northeast are lit up with familiar names and logos: Petco. Whole Foods. CVS.

There is also a Starbucks. Or, more specifically, S-T-A-R-B-U-C-K-S spelled out in the hand symbols of American Sign Language.

That fingerspelling is one way to spot the coffee giant’s first U.S. signing store, where 24 deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing employees run the shop using ASL. The store debuts on Tuesday after being converted from a standard Starbucks location to make the design and technology more accessible. It’s a step, employees and advocates say, toward boosting employment opportunities for the deaf community while also immersing hearing individuals in deaf spaces. And it’s a show of support from one of the world’s largest corporate brands.

“My identity is accepted here,” said Crystal Harris, a barista at the signing store. “Deafness has many faces.”

The store is just blocks from Gallaudet University, a 150-year-old institution and the world’s only university designed for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. The shop mirrors Starbucks’s first signing store, which opened in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2016. Customers from the outside can spot “Starbucks” written out in fingerspelling beneath the main logo and on large table umbrellas. And on the inside, what may appear like any other Starbucks cafe has been specifically laid out and decorated to celebrate deaf culture.

One entire wall, for example, is covered by a multicolored mural commissioned by a deaf artist and Gallaudet faculty member. In fingerspelling, the mural depicts a lowercase “d,” representing deafness, an uppercase “D,” representing deaf identity, an eye to represent visual connections, a hand holding a coffee cup, and other symbols showing merging of deaf and hearing cultures.

Customers can communicate in ASL or write their orders on a tech pad. Rather than wait to hear their names called at the end of the bar, customers look up to a screen showing when their drinks are ready. The store was also remodeled to maximize light and open lines of sight — high top tables or tall stacks of cups, for example, limit visibility for people signing to each other. Non-signing customers are also encouraged to use visual cues. Rather than sign that the store didn’t carry chamomile tea, for example, one employee waved his hand across his neck — signaling “no” — and then pointed to a printed menu with other options.

Camille Hymes, Starbucks’s regional vice president for the Mid-Atlantic, said the company chose D.C. for its proximity to Gallaudet and because of the city’s ties to activism for the deaf community. Using the store as a profitable business model, Hymes said, Starbucks can be an example to other companies of “using our scale for good.”

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Living With LGMD

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Keisha Greaves

I have Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy (MD); I was diagnosed at the age 24. Keisha Greaves, founder of  Girls Chronically Rock shares her story.

I was born and raised in Cambridge, MA and went to high school in Cambridge. I received my bachelor’s degree in Fashion Design and Merchandising and then furthered my education in getting my Master’s degree in Business.

When I first discovered my symptoms of my MD, it was crazy to me because I started to get symptoms around 2009, while in graduate school. I began to repeatedly fall, and my leg would just give out on me without notice. I would fall to the ground and not be able to pick myself back up, I would need assistance from someone to lift me up with all their might, because it was something I just wasn’t capable of doing on my own. I also began notice when I tried to reach for certain things in the kitchen cabinets or try to exercise I was unable to lift my right arm up all the way. I kind of just thought to myself maybe I need to go on a diet and lose weight, but in the back of my mind I knew it something more.

So I went to see an orthopedic, but I was told that this was more of a neuro-muscular issue, so I then went to see a Neurologist. Once I saw the Neurologist, she then tested me and gave me a muscle biopsy, MRI, an EMG and every other test you can think of. So after multiple tests, I was finally diagnosed with Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy. Limb-Girdle is a form of MD that affects the limb of the shoulders all the way down to the legs, which progressively over time eventually gets worse.

The first thing I thought was how long am I going to live, will I be in a wheelchair soon, and what is my life going to be like from now on. I knew I had to be strong and continue to do what I have to do so I started doing some research on it and read what eating healthy and exercising would help. I joined weight watchers with my cousin, I lost over 36 pounds and I felt great. I’ve able to keep half the weight still off, and I am still determined to lose more.

They have multiple types of Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, and 5 years later my doctor’s are still trying to figure which type I have exactly. The only thing they know at this point is from the types I may have, can affect my heart which is why I often have to go get a echo-cardiogram test that tests my heart to make sure everything is ok.

Living with Limb-Girdle Muscular dystrophy is still new to me every day. I wake up every day not knowing how my legs are going to feel, or what pain I may have when leaving my house. I try to be very careful when walking because I don’t want to fall and because I won’t be able to pick myself back up. Although I’m on my feet a lot for work, after a certain amount of hours, my legs start to weaken. I am currently a visual merchandiser at different locations for a very popular clothing store. I enjoy my job because it keeps me and my legs active and I enjoy traveling to the different store locations, doing what I love and my part in the fashion industry.

I have the wonderful support from my family and friends but at the end of the day, they have NO IDEA what I go through on daily basis or what I’m feeling. I try to explain to them how my legs feel, but it’s just so hard to explain. I still go out and enjoy my life as normal, but sometimes I always have certain things in the back of my mind.

When going out, I find myself researching about where I am going first, like does this place have stairs? Does it have an elevator? Do they accommodate handicapped people? So all of these things I worry about when I go out, and my friends and family have no idea. Living with MD has made me realize how strong I am and knowing I have no choice but to deal with this. I sometimes get stares because people wonder what a young girl like me is doing either walking with a limp, with a cane, or parking in a handicap parking spot. But I don’t mind because they just don’t know me or know what I have. Although my MD has progressed over the years and getting worse, I have learned to accept it and make certain changes in to my life, such as now walking with a cane in order to keep my balance and helping me not to fall. At this point, I am just taking everything day by day and staying strong. But there is one thing I want people to know by reading this quote.

“There’s no “cure” or a pill will “fix it”, but at one point I thought it may help. And, I thought the same with therapy and food. But it’s my endless support from family and friend that helps. It is hardest thing that I have ever done, and I found myself much stronger for doing it. Never, ever, underestimate the power of your desire. If you want to live badly enough, you can live. The greater question, at least for me was: How do I decide I want to live? That is the question I’m still working on?”

girlschronicallyrock.com