Thursday, February 19, 2015

Registration for 13th Annual Eric 'RicStar' Winter Music Therapy Camp Now Open

Registration for the 13th annual RicStar's Camp, which celebrates the individual abilities of people of all ages with a wide range of exceptionalities, is now open for all returning campers.

Registration for new campers will begin March 1st.

Don't delay! Camp is often full. 

Scholarships are available.

More info, including downloadable registration form, here. Music changes lives. 

So does RicStar's Camp.

Focused on ability, friendship and fun.

Amy Purdy to Chat with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday Feb 22nd.

Paralympian, author, dancer and all around terrific example and activist, Amy Purdy, will appear on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday program this Sunday, February 22nd, on the OWN network.

Should be worth the view and the wisdom.

Can you tell I'm a Purdy fan?

I'm a fan of Oprah and the OWN programs, too.

Find our more here.  Sneak peaks. :)

Visit my Facebook Page

Reminder: there are lots of new posts and links at my professional Facebook page, It's updated more frequently that this blog and includes more posts that I think you don't want to miss. :)

Check it all out, here.

Purchase Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs

Special note regarding purchase of my book, Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations. ( the direct link on this page) is currently out of stock of my title and awaiting more books. 

But you can still buy Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs at all other major booksellers, including Barnes and Noble and places like Target and Wal Mart and independent booksellers, which I also love supporting.

Hopefully, Amazon will be restocked soon.

Kate Middleton Talks Mental Health Issues

Kate Middleton takes on the big topic of children's mental health and gets the valuable conversation going.

Let's help her keep it alive.

Watch/Read here. 

The BBC asks, "Is it OK to call disabled people 'Inspirational?'

Yeah. That's the real headline of a BBC article getting press today. 

Can't let this one go.

It comes after many recent Super Bowl commercials and recent press that have highlighted or are highlighting the successes of those with exceptionalities, including Jamie Brewer, actress and activist and the first person with Down syndrome to walk the NYC Fashion Week runway.

That's a big deal.

Here's my take. I'll be brief.

Personally, I think we're getting caught up in semantics here and wasting valuable chat time when there are much bigger special needs topics to fry and discuss, like education, insurance, respite, employment, etc.

Plus, the word inspirational sure beats many of the ugly terms many with special needs have been slammed with over history and still today, words like retarded, spastic, insane, stupid, brain dead, etc.

I'm thrilled we're finally including people with exceptionalities in our daily conversations and in the major media, and on the runway. If the stories told inspire others, that's cool, too. 

Many special needs families are desperate for positive examples for their own children. History books need to include more such stories, too.

Long overdue.

That said, I do wish the media would do a better job with people-first language.

Note the "disabled people" headline used by the BBC. They aren't alone in that editorial snafu.

Use people's names, please. Stop defining people by disability before the story even gets out of the equality gate. 

It does change perceptions about ability.

Disability is a part of someone's reality and life. It should never be the defining term.

Read the full article here.

What's your take on the "inspirational" discussion?

Monday, February 09, 2015


In honor of that terrific GRAMMY win by Pharrell Williams last night, this one deserves another look.

Your song sure made everyone at RicStar's Camp HAPPY!!!

Get HAPPY here. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

You can find my book at all major booksellers, including here.

Staying in Touch

Reminder that you can now view more frequent special needs posts on my professional Facebook page.

You can also follow me on Twitter.

You can find out more about my book and my special needs mission on my website.

Annual Day of Service honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is Monday, January 19th.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

How will you serve?

More information here.

Words of Wisdom from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Raise your voices whenever needed.

Logo courtesy of Abilities Expo

International Day of Acceptance 

Spread the word!

International Day of Acceptance is next Tuesday, January 20th.

It's a time to create greater awareness of the importance of embracing people of ALL abilities, including those with exceptionalities.

Reality is we need to stop leaving people with disabilities out of important conversations about diversity and equal rights, too.

You can learn more about this special day and share your own stories here.

And how about we practice this kind of acceptance all year long, too?

Equality for ALL.

Super Sibs

Those super sibs Hunter and Braden Gandee are at it again.

You may remember the Michigan siblings first captured our hearts and attention when Hunter carried his younger brother with cerebral palsy, Braden, on his back on a 40-mile cross-state walk to create greater awareness for cerebral palsy.

This time, it's about the chance to play sports like every other kid.

The short video is well worth the view and the lessons learned.


Out of the mouths of babes.

Watch here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Judy Winter Holiday Images 2014
Judy Winter Special Needs Holiday Tips

Here's a link to my Facebook page and a video with a few of my key Holiday Tips for families of children with special needs.

An early gift to you from me. :)

'Tis the season to share and care, right? :)

Happy Holiday Prep!

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Faces of Ability-RicStar's Camp

One of my favs from the award-winning RicStar's Camp, of which I am co founder/chair. 

Our focus is always on what campers of all ages with a wide range of exceptionalities CAN do.

Never on what they can't do.

Yeah. It's that cool, and life changing.

Music changes lives.

Photo Erik Taylor Photography

WARNING: Shameless self promotion :)

Consider giving my book as a gift to your child's team members and family members this holiday season.

Help them have a greater appreciation for and awareness of your child's and your parenting challenges.

Lots of great resources and success stories and parenting tips included to help you take your parenting and advocacy to a whole new level.

Find Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs here and all major and most independent booksellers.

Judy Winter Holiday Images 2014


Lots of new posts on my Facebook page, where I post much more frequently.

Check it out.

And Happy Holidays, however you celebrate!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Lust

Can't wait to read Timothy Shriver's new book Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most.

The Chairman of Special Olympics already has a #1 bestseller on his hands.

Shriver's insightful words about growing up with and championing those with intellectual disabilities can only be good for the overall special needs awareness and cause.

Congratulations, Tim!!

Lucky us.

Friday Food for Thought

RicStar's Camp participant. Photo by Erik Taylor Photography. All rights reserved.

We all know that parents of children with special needs can cite lots of stuff they struggle with. 

They hear way too much about what's wrong with their children and what those children will never achieve, and they have to work extra hard not to breathe in all that negativity and try hard to make good things happen for their children anyway.

And sometimes, these parents even want to run far, far away from home and their overwhelming responsibilities and never come back.


But with Thanksgiving just around the corner, what  are you THANKFUL for?

Change focus. Dig deep. Breathe it all in. Celebrate it, and your children. 

Comment here. 

Inspire each other.

We all need that.

Oh yes, we do.

Special Olympics Just Dance Challenge

Courtesy of Special Olympics

It's been a while since I've posted here.

My bad.

A reminder that my much more regular posts appear on my professional Facebook page.

That said, let's get this blog updated with a great new effort by Special Olympics called the Just Dance Challenge, a three-month fundraising campaign to create even more awareness about the special needs organization.

Maroon 5 is in. How about you?

Specifics here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Apologize or sit down, Kanye West.

There's been lots of drama and words exchanged surrounding Kanye West's recent wheelchair/concert snafu, for which he refuses to apologize.  

I'm not going to explain it all here. You can google and find the story and videos.

But every so often, I gotta put on my activist hat and run my mouth, too, and honor my son's life.

As a mom that parented a child that needed to use a wheelchair until his sudden death in 2003 at age 12, here's my short response to the on-going drama about West demanding that people in wheelchairs at his concert stand up, and then refusing to apologize for any perceived insensitivity.

Through my son, I experienced firsthand the challenges of wheelchair use and disability, tough moments made more difficult by the lack of understanding and harsh judgement of others.

With self-absorbed, feisty words, Kanye West appears clueless to the idea that someone with such needs moves among us, much less would be at one of his concerts or listen to his music. 

He's not alone in that lack of awareness or sensitivity. West just has more people closely watching him.

Fact is, there's an invisible population that still exists among us, those with disabilities, including those requiring wheelchairs to get around.

We need to change that. The Kanye uproar offers us another opportunity to try. 

Teachable moment? 

Like Martin Luther, King, Jr., I have a dream that such needed change will be fully realized one day. 

But like the rough struggles faced by other minorities working to realize true equality, that's no easy dream.

As an author, speaker and activist on special needs issues, I try to do my part to spark change.

Including here. Today. Right now.

For what it's worth, here's my suggestion for Kanye and his devoted Queen of Selfies, Kim Kardashian West.

Why not take a selfie with and spend the day with people that must use wheelchairs to get around from Point A to Point B to live life more independently, and post that. 

Take the focus off of and educate yourselves.

Bring the stalkarazzi with you.

Maybe you'll create some valuable press and worthwhile awareness for the incredible challenges facing those that use wheelchairs, as well as for millions of others that have special needs.

Not an easy existence.

That selfie would be a first, and maybe even a humbling shot at that. 


If you can't offer up an apology for your insensitive, clueless "stand-up!" commands and on-going rants, someone needs to ask you to "sit down."

I'll do it. I'm pretty sure you won't care, but I do.

Please sit down, Kanye West. We already know you can stand up, the gift of easy physical abilities and clear speech being what they are and all.

But thank you for fueling valuable and timely worldwide discussion about those with special needs, including wheelchair use.

That creates change.

Did you know people with disabilities represent some of the most discriminated against folks on the face of the planet, even though we shamelessly exclude them whenever discussing human rights violations and discrimination?

Did you know they and their families must fight daily to ensure many basic rights that you and I take for granted, with neither the money nor public platforms required to speak out effectively against those injustices to have their stories heard?

Did you know those with special needs are constantly and often harshly judged each and every single day of their lives because of deep-seated, outdated stereotypes perpetuated by the public about disability?

Did you know they're often deemed imperfect, worthless human beings, and targeted for cruel, demeaning jokes, daily bullying, and rude comments by too many clueless, able-bodied people, including entertainers?

I share these realities with you just in case you thought it was easy being in that wheelchair, getting to that concert and still standing out while sitting down.

It's anything but.

It takes guts.

With the world's attention upon you once again, and having had your spirited say, you could choose now to add intelligent talk to the positive awareness and respect those with disabilties need and deserve.

Some food for thought; if you're willing to feast.

Are you?

Then stand up and be heard for all the right reasons, apologize and stop the firestorm.

Two simple, powerful words.

I'm sorry.

It's the right thing to do. The classy thing to do. The human thing to do.

Consider it a vote for true equality for all.

And don't forget to share that wheelchair selfie with the world.

Can't wait to see it.