Thursday, December 31, 2009

Minute Vacations -January 2010

Minute Vacation
-January 2010

Cacti in the Hollywood Hills
Mulholland Drive
Los Angeles

Photo Judy Winter 09

Words of Wisdom from Julia Cameron -January 2010

Words of Wisdom -Jan 2010

Remembering Special Needs Giants Edward Kennedy & Eunice Kennedy Shriver

As 2009 comes quickly to a close, I must take time to remember and reflect on two tremendous losses impacting the special needs community this year.

My heart goes out to the families of Senator Edward Kennedy and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics and special needs sibling extraordinaire. The world, especially for those facing the tremendous daily challenges of special needs, is in a much-better state of affairs because these two amazing human beings gave so unselfishly to others throughout their lives. Their choices have positively impacted the lives of millions of people with and without disabilities worldwide.

In a world now shamefully focused on reality television antics and granting instant fame for nothing of lasting value, I, for one, will be forever grateful for the outstanding examples of these two individuals, and for their remarkable courage. It's amazing what can be accomplished when we take the focus off of ourselves and onto a worthy cause.

Thank you, both.

Photos from the Down Syndrome Association of LA 2009 Buddy Walk by Judy Winter . Used with permission.

Judy Winter

Happy New Year! Party Responsibly

I think that my handsome canine muse is pondering all those great new therapy dog adventures that await him (and me) in 2010!

Jack and I both believe in the transformative power of new beginnings. Do you?

Happy New Year!

Photos Judy Winter 09

Fav Faces of Ability 2009 -Day Six

Favorite Photos of Ability -Day Six

My 2009 photo of one of the remarkable therapy dogs at RicStar's Camp. After falling off a truck and injuring her back years ago, Sophie now uses a cart on wheels to get around and share her love. Phyllis is her terrific partner.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Fav Faces of Ability 2009 -Day Five

Favorite Faces of Ability 2009 -Day Five

My photo of my favorite Canadian, Evan (and terrific camp Buddy, Cody), bringing down the house at RicStar's Camp Be-A- Star Showcase 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

Fav Faces of Ability 2009 -Day Three

Favorite Faces of Ability -Day Three

My photo of my buddy/camper Kierin at RicStar's Camp 2009

To view a new short video that explains what music therapy is and how it works at RicStar's Camp by camp director Cindy Edgerton, click here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fav Faces of Ability 2009 -Day Two

Favorite Faces of Ability 2009 -Day Two

Photo of my friend, actor Blair Williamson at Down Syndrome Assoc of LA Buddy Walk Santa Anita Racetrack, CA, Nov 09 by Judy Winter

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fav Faces of Ability 2009 -Day One

To close out a great year that included professional travel to many places, where I met so many determined kids, dedicated families, and skilled professionals with big hearts, here's Day One of six of my favorite Faces of Ability shots from 2009.

Thank you all for blessing my life this year. You inspire me.

I believe that every child is beautiful.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Time Magazine & Jenny McCarthy on Autism 09

Interesting, spirited interview about Autism and vaccines with Time magazine's science editor, Jeffrey Kluger, and Jenny McCarthy. Read it here.

TIME also named Autism research as one of the 'Top Ten Medical Breakthroughs of 2009." Promising and exciting developments for millions of families impacted by this challenging diagnosis.

Photo Judy Winter 09

Seven Days of Christmas Magic 2009- Day Three

Photo Judy Winter 09

Friday, December 18, 2009

Seven Days of Christmas Magic 2009- Day One

Let the Christmas countdown begin, with some of my favorite holiday shots of the past year. 

Happy Holidays!

Photo of Michigan's Capital Dome & Christmas Tree 08 /Judy Winter 

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Love This! -Special Olympics Worldwide Photo Gallery

Check out this collection of Special Olympic moments from throughout the world. The reach and outstanding work of this marvelous organization continues to impact millions of athletes with special needs and their families each year.  It is worthy of your support.

Yeah, baby! -MSU Hoops Named Program of the Decade by Sports Illustrated

Congratulations to my beloved Spartans, named MSU Hoops Program of the Decade by Sports Illustrated. 

Jack (and many others) salute you!

Tom Izzo rocks!

Photos: Judy Winter 09

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Creating Holiday Magic for Kids with Special Needs -Week Seven

Creating Holiday Magic for Kids with Special Needs-Week Seven -by Judy Winter/ 2009/All rights reserved.

Here is my final tip for creating holiday magic kids with special needs. I hope these seven tips have proved useful to you and helped you create a less stressful and more joyful holiday season for your entire family. You can also revisit these suggestions as you face other parenting challenges and family celebrations in the year ahead. 

Your families do matter, especially to me. 

Holiday blessings to each and everyone of you.

-Interact with family members with special needs, and encourage others to do the same. If the child uses a wheelchair, kneel to eye level and address the child directly. Allow other kids in the family to buddy up and assist the child with special needs in hanging ornaments, frosting cookies, setting the table, or passing out presents. Help that child participate whenever possible, while teaching other kids in the family valuable, lasting life lessons. 

Children with special needs are great teachers.

Center Photo: John McGinley of NBC's "Scrubs". This photo of John, the National Buddy Walk Spokesperson, was taken at the 15th annual DSALA Buddy Walk held November 15th at Santa Anita Racetrack. The actor is seen here with my friend (and his) actor Blair Williamson, and his girlfriend, Susie. Photo by me and used with permission of DSALA.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Jack Becomes a Therapy Dog & Does Shelter Pups Everywhere Proud

Presenting the world's newest therapy dog. Yes, Jack (we) passed the TDI evaluation yesterday. Now for the paperwork and choosing an assignment. We are going to make a great team.

Shelter dogs (and therapy pups) rock!

Photo: Judy Winter 09

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tonight is the Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting

I am mesmerized tonight by the burning candle flame that helps me honor my much-loved son's life. This lovely, simple holiday ritual helps me, and millions of other bereaved families, remember and heal. 

Learn more about The Compassionate Friends Annual Candle Lighting  here.

Photo: Judy Winter 09

Saturday, December 12, 2009

BRAVO!! -Young Actress with Visual Impairment Broadway Bound as Helen-Keller Understudy in The Miracle Worker

The New York Times reports that 10-year-old actress, Kyra Ynex Siegel of Eugene, Oregon, has been cast as the understudy for the part of Helen Keller (Abigail Breslin) in the Broadway revival of 'The Miracle Worker.'  Siegel is visually impaired. 

Read the story here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Creating Holiday Magic for Kids with Special Needs -Week Six

Creating Holiday Magic for Kids with Special Needs--Week Six by Judy Winter / 2009/ All rights reserved

-Practice Forgiveness Whenever Possible. Most family members don’t intentionally set out to exclude children with special needs. They often just require education, support, positive examples and training to bring them up to speed. By focusing on creative solutions, families can help realize holiday magic for kids with special needs, too— and that’s in keeping with the spirit of the season!

Photo Judy Winter 09

Reminder: The Compassionate Friends 2009 Worldwide Candle Lighting is this Sunday, Dec. 13th

A reminder that the The Compassionate Friends annual worldwide candle lighting that honors and remembers children who have died, will be held this Sunday, December 13th at 7 p.m. local time. For more information on this organization that supports bereaved parents, and about this beautiful, healing holiday tradition born in 1997, click here.

My candle remembering Eric will be burning brightly, too.

Photo: Judy Winter 09

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Right On! Stevie Wonder will focus on rights of those with disabilites in new role as UN Messenger of Peace.

I'm so excited and proud regarding the recent selection of Stevie Wonder as a new UN Messenger of Peace. Wonder's focus will be on promoting the rights, dignity and awareness of 650 million people worldwide with disabilities. This amazingly talented man, who happens to be blind, is a great choice, complete with celebrity that will bring much-needed and long overdue focus to this important human rights cause. 

For those of us who have worked so hard on behalf of this population, this is a ground-breaking moment and an event for us to celebrate.

Creating Holiday Magic for Kids with Special Needs- Week Five

Creating Holiday Magic for Kids with Special Needs--Week Five
by Judy Winter/ All rights reserved 2009

Buy age/skill-level appropriate gifts for the child with special needs. Regardless of how well intentioned, inappropriate gift selection for children with special needs hurts. When in doubt, ask parents for gift ideas, or obtain a copy of the child’s holiday wish list. Reserve baby toys (and baby talk) for babies!

Key Note: Toys "R" Us offers it's annual Toy Guide for Differently Abled Kids, a toy selection guide 'for parents and friends of children with disabilities,’ to ensure that the big holiday toy wishes of kids with special needs come true, too. See my previous post for the link to this terrific resource.

Photo: Judy Winter

The 2009 Toys "R" Us Guide for Differently Abled Kids Now Available

The 2009 Toys "R" Us Toy Guide for Differently Abled Kids, "an easy-to-use resource featuring specially selected toys that aid in the development of children with physical, cognitive or developmental disabilities," is now available to help you select great gifts for kids with special needs. Check it out, and learn more about how this valuable resource came to be here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

My Photo Included in December Breathing Space on!

For the second time this year, one of my photos has been chosen for inclusion in the Breathing Space online feature at It's one of my favorite winter shots, too.

Thanks, Oprah!

You can see this photo at left, and with the copy I included at here.

'Winter Scene' by Judy Winter
All rights reserved 09

Monday, November 30, 2009

Moving Tribute to Roger McCarville of PBS Program 'Disabilities Today.'

I was honored to work with Roger McCarville, host of the PBS program Disabilities Today, now called A Wider World. He became a wheelchair user and tireless special needs advocate after a serious boating accident dramatically changed the course of his life. 

I first met Roger after he invited me to appear on his weekly Detroit radio program, and Roger later produced a television segment on RicStar's Camp, the popular music therapy camp I co founded in honor of my son, Eric. Unfortunately, Roger McCarville passed away last fall.

Today, I received notice of a well-deserved tribute to McCarville, introduced by his executive producer, Jim Saliba and created by the staff of Disabilities Today. The remembrance was first presented at the Athletes with Disabilities Hall of Fame dinner in Royal Oak, Michigan in October 2009, and was incorporated into the beginning of the new season of A Wider World. You can find out more about this remarkable man by watching the moving tribute of him on YouTube.  It's worth your time. You can also find out more about which PBS stations air A Wider World here.

The disability community has lost a tremendous advocate; but we've gained much because of Roger's never-ending commitment to the cause, fueled by his generous and humble spirit. His work will live on; but I will miss his valuable advocacy.

Minute Vacations -December 2009


West Coast Sunrise
Santa Barbara, California
November 2009

California dreamin....

Photo by Judy Winter 09

Words of Wisdom from Woodrow Wilson -December 2009


"If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience."
-Woodrow Wilson

Photo by Judy Winter 09

Wheelchair User Takes Chance on Love & Wins- NY Times

Sunday's New York Times included a thought-provoking essay written by Gary Presley, a near quadriplegic as a result of polio, and the author of "Seven Wheelchairs: A Life Beyond Polio."The essay chronicles how Presley finally moved beyond his disability to take a chance on love,  and won.

You can read the heartfelt essay, "Would My Heart Outrun Its Pursuer?" here.

Honest and inspiring.

Photo by Judy Winter 09

Exciting News Alert! -Autism Treatment Works in Kids as Young as 18 mos (AP)

Early intervention is considered key in maximizing the potential of many children with special needs. Perhaps nowhere is this considered more critical than with children with autism, making the results of a new study on autism treatment as reported by the Associated Press just hours ago in the article entitled Autism Treatment Works in Kids as Young as 18 mos by Lindsey Tanner, especially exciting.

Read it