Monday, March 30, 2009

Jack Shows His Spartan Spirit as MSU Hightails it to the Motor City & NCAA Final Four

It's mighty good to be Green!  After MSU's convincing win against Louisville in the NCAA Sweet 16 yesterday, Jack and I are prouder than ever to call ourselves Spartans.

Of course, since both of his 'parents' are MSU grads (and keepers of coveted doggy treats!), there's no way we'd let our canine cutie wear another color.

I love underdogs, especially Green/White ones. Note to the media: please keep picking us to lose.

Congrats, Coach Izzo & Co., on another amazing Spartan feat!  Now go make the Motor City even Greener!!

Photos of Jack showing off his Spartan pride, right before trying to eat the flag...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Newsweek's Quinn Bradlee Excerpt 'Great Expectations' & Launch of New LD Website

The March 21, '09 issue of Newsweek includes an excerpt from a new book by Quinn Bradlee, son of power couple, writer Sally Quinn and former Washington Post editor, Ben Bradlee. 

A Different Life: Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures, gives voice to Quinn's challenging experiences growing up with serious health concerns that included heart surgery, seizure disorder, learning disabilities, and a diagnosis of a rare condition called Velocardiofacial syndrome (VCFS) a genetic disorder that affects one in 2000 children.  According to Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome Educational Foundation, Inc, common VCFS conditions include: cleft palate, heart disorders and learning speech challenges.

Now 26, Quinn admits to "having lived a life of privilege and limitations," and as a result, honestly addresses concerns about his future independence. The author has also launched FriendsOfQuinn, a new website to connect young adults with learning disabilities and provide them with valuable resources.

You can read the Newsweek excerpt entitled Quinn's Great Expectations here.

The emotional struggles that often result from pit-bull parental advocacy efforts and a child's growing need for independence will resonate with many families.

'Reflection' Judy Winter 2008

Monday, March 23, 2009

Kudos to 60 Minutes Piece for Piece about Musical Virtuoso & Schizophrenia

Much of the nation's interest and hype on Sunday was focused on the NCAA tourney and I admit that I'm thrilled that my beloved Spartans played their hearts out and advanced to the Sweet 16! Go Green!!!

But I feel especially blessed to have caught a piece on 60 Minutes that followed a lengthy interview with the President. 

Morley Safer's piece 'Mr. Lopez Meets Mr. Ayers' proved a deeply moving and fascinating exploration involving issues of homelessness, friendship, lost dreams, and living with schizophrenia for a homeless man, a musical virtuoso who once attended Julliard. 

This is one of the most sensitive, human stories on mental illness that I've ever seen. The story begins when Los Angeles Times' columnist Steve Lopez, searching for inspiration to meet his deadline, chances upon a homeless man playing music in the streets of downtown LA. 

The columnist gets much more than inspiration for a story. The encounter changes his life.

Safer's piece doesn't sugar coat or hide the realities of Mr. Ayer's illness.  Rather, the piece does a terrific job of humanizing the life of one gifted musician, whose on-going struggles with personal demons presented by a complex diagnosis, dramatically changed the course of his life. It's worth viewing, if only to help us better understand the complexities involved in addressing mental health issues, something made increasingly difficult because of fear and lack of understanding on the part of the general public, not to mention the lack of needed resources. 

It's also a powerful reminder that disability alone should not define a person's value or potential.

A movie about this amazing friendship entitled 'The Soloist" is being released April 26th and stars Robert Downey, Jr. and Jamie Fox, which should increase public awareness. Too often when disability is discussed, issues of mental illness are avoided. It makes many people uncomfortable.  This piece will make you care, while highlighting the gift of true friendship, and the power of one person to change another's life, regardless of disability or life status. 

Watch it at

It's worth your time.

Photo: Judy Winter 2008

Friday, March 20, 2009

Oops! President Obama & Special Olympics Gaffe On Leno

The media is abuzz with President Obama's unfortunate language choice made last night during his interview with Jay Leno. The President equated his less-than-stellar bowling skills to those of Special Olympics athletes. 

Ouch! -and oops!

Once the blunder was realized, the President quickly called Special Olympics' chairman, Tim Shriver, apologized and then invited the talented athletes to visit the White House. I hope that happens, and that the media covers it well. 

I also think that President Obama should take Tim Shriver up on his challenge to hire someone with an intellectual disability to work at the White House (aka 'The People's House').

Here's my take on the whole hullabaloo: The President's major slip-of-the-tongue was wrong and he knows it. As the nation's first black president, he should be especially sensitive to avoiding word usage that helps foster deep-seated, painful and outdated stereotypes. But President Obama did quickly own up to his mistake and apologized for the insulting gaffe. My guess is he won't repeat this one.

Plus, the media event has helped create increased discussion about special needs, language use and stereotypes, and the remarkable accomplishments of Special Olympics' athletes, invaluable awareness and discussion created at the nation's highest level. 

....and that is a good thing.

What's your take?

Catch Tim Shriver on CNN's Larry King tonight.

You can read the official Special Olympics statement about the President's gaffe here.
You can read my lengthy interview with Tim Shriver in my book. 

Photo of Eunice Kennedy Shriver courtesy of Special Olympics. Used with permission.
Photo of me with my hubby & Tim Shriver/Special Olympics' headquarters/Washington, D.C.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Honor Natasha Richardson by Putting on a Helmet

My heart goes out to the family of actress Natasha Richardson who died yesterday after apparently experiencing a traumatic brain injury from a fall during a private lesson at the famed Canadian ski resort Mount Tremblant. 

What a terrible tragedy and loss for her family, friends and the acting world. 

The story is also a harsh reminder to all of us about the importance of wearing helmets while engaging in risky sports and activities, With spring only a day away, it's great to see so many families finally getting outdoors and riding their bikes, scooters and skateboards. But I've also been alarmed at the number of people I've seen going helmet free, including bareheaded parents riding bikes with their protected children.  

That's neither the best, nor safest, example for our kids.

Yesterday's tragic story reminds us how quickly our lives can change as we take part in activities that can result in permanent disability or death. Please, take a moment to protect yourself and your family and cover your head.  It sure beats the alternative.

Click here for more on traumatic brain injury, including valuable tips to protect yourself from injury.

'Soaring' Judy Winter 2008

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Say it Isn't So! Bad Economy Hits Sesame Street & Ruffles Big Bird's Feathers

Even the world's most beloved muppets aren't immune to the tough economic fallout. Sesame Workshop, the non-profit that produces 'Sesame Street' and other children's programming has announced that it's cutting it's workforce by 1/5.

Is nothing sacred??

To read the complete AOL article, click here:
To visit the wonderful SW website, click here.

The world needs Grover, Cookie Monster, Oscar, Bert & Ernie, Elmo and Big Bird more now than ever before! Please, support your local public television stations.

Photo in Honor of 'March is Reading Month' and 'Sesame Street'/ MSU Children's Garden/ Judy Winter 2008

Balancing Off all the Bad News

So many of my posts lately seem to involve the bad news all around us. But I believe strongly in promoting all the good news that's out there, too.

That said, here's a photo of my wonderful dog, Jack (and granddoggy, Zelda), to help make you smile and provide a needed antidote to all those ugly stories of late.

This is from Jack's first meeting with his 'cousins' Zelda and Griff. They didn't fight at all. Instead, they did their doggy sniffing ritual, quickly accepted each other, and enjoyed their outing together.

Animals have much to teach us.

'Canine Buddies' Judy Winter 2009

State Run School in Texas Staged Fights with Intellectually Disabled Residents

Just when I think we've come so far in promoting awareness and understanding of the value and rights of those with special needs, a disgusting story like this one out of Corpus Christi, Texas comes along to remind us all how far we still have to go.

The media is reporting that up to 11 current and former employees of a State run home for the intellectually challenged in Texas staged fights with the male residents for 'entertainment' and even filmed the action on cell phones. The events are reported to go back as far as 2007, maybe even further.  You can read more about the story here:

The good news is that arrest warrants are now pending. But I'm still left asking what has happened to our civility and concern for fellow human beings? Appalling. 

We must do better, America, and good parenting is a great place to start.

Flickr Page

Yippee! Today is National Organize Your Home Office Day!

Did You Know?

It's National Organize Your Home Office Day! 

Where do I begin? 

I think I'll head to Target first for more stuff.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

News Flash from Special Olympics- Youth Spear 'Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign'

Please consider supporting this new effort to end the derogatory use of the word 'retard'.  Here's the latest info from my friends at Kirsten Special Olympics re: the new Spread the Word to End the Word a nationwide youth initiative.

"This past February, we held our 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise/Sun Valley, Idaho uniting nearly 2,000 athletes from nearly 100 countries.

As part of that event, we gathered 130 young people with and without intellectual disabilities for a week-long activation summit. The motivation of young people to make change in the world for people with intellectual disabilities is inspiring.

On February 9, during the week of activities, Dick Morris used the word “retarded” in a demeaning way on the O’Reilly Factor. The students of the Youth Activation Summit acted swiftly and reached out to FOX and Bill O’Reilly to educate and engage them on this blunder. On February 12, Bill O’Reilly gave an on-air apology.

Young people have found their power and are leading an effort for Special Olympics called Spread the Word to End the Word. Students across the country are planning local events for 3.31.09 to end the use of the R-word and to garner more pledges of support. Actor and National Down Syndrome Society Ambassador John C. McGinley attended the 2009 World Games and was so impressed with the actions of these young people that he has signed-on to help them further their goal.

We invite you to join us as we Spread the Word to End the Word this month. Help
the youth spread the word by mobilizing your constituents to support their
efforts. Graphics, tools and resources can be found at Your
organization and constituents are welcome to use the materials to participate in
this nationwide awareness effort to help us accomplish what we set out to do in
August 2008 – change the conversation and raise the consciousness of society
about the hurtful effects of the R-word."

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Kirsten Seckler at or 1-202-715-1147 or Barbara Kornblau@bkornblau@specialolympics.org

I've said it many times on this blog and it bears repeating: Words DO Hurt, especially when it comes to perceptions of and opportunities for people with disabilities. The r-word is never used to build people up.

Photo courtesy of Special Olympics. Used with permission.

Disability Can Happen to Anyone

Whenever I run across information that reminds us that disability can happen to anyone at anytime, I find it a humbling lesson worth sharing.  

One such valuable piece ran in this past Sunday's New York Times. "In a Charmed Life, A Road Less Traveled, is a deeply personal story written by a devoted husband who honestly shares how his life and that of his wife were forever changed after a car accident left her a paraplegic.

This beautiful piece is worth the read, and a harsh reminder of how quickly our lives can change. 

Drive carefully.

Did You KNOW? Children and Homelessness

One out of every 50 children in America is homeless, a statistic that is both disturbing and shocking. It breaks my heart. 

We can and must do better by our country's children. 

How will you help?

from report released today.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Put Down the Technology & Pick Up a Book to Celebrate March is Reading Month!

Here's my March CAWLM column, just in time for MARCH is Reading Month- and yes, I find it especially important to read to kids with special needs. Think brain development, bonding time, and just plain fun!!


Celebrating Leprechauns & Good Reads

If strange-colored brew and good eats are your thing, March is your month. It’s when we celebrate the Luck O’ the Irish, that annual St. Paddy’s Day tradition featuring green beer, fish ‘n chips and Shamrock Shakes, Proof of Irish heritage isn’t required. Faking an Irish brogue gains entry.

I prefer to consume books while sipping fine wine, sneaking Hershey Kisses and honoring March is Reading Month. If I’m not curled up in a home window seat wrapped in a cozy blanket with a good read, you’ll find me at a favorite bookstore jockeying for coveted spots in front of the fireplace. I adore books, bookstores and libraries. I love the lingering ink smell of just-published works and the library musk of rare editions. I enjoy the crisp sound made by turning pages and knowing someone boldly placed innermost thoughts on paper, then autographed them for good measure.

Books are glorious gifts. I embrace them to escape the latest world crisis or grab information to better defend my beliefs. When I’ve finished a book’s final sentence and I’m sad it’s over, it’s because it was that good. I cradle books like fragile baby birds, carefully returning them to rightful shelves.

When my generous hubby gave me an Christmas IOU for that popular Kindle gift from, I asked him to cancel the order, with a stare that said he should know me better. My partner of three decades proclaimed the gadget’s marvel and promised I could easily read my favorite media while traveling. I wasn’t sold— and I didn’t care that Oprah was raving about hers. I’m not ready to cheat on hard covers and paperbacks with another new-fangled toy that requires charging.

As a child, I drew inspiration from Nancy Drew and Seventeen, which I read on lazy Saturdays, imagining faraway adventures. As an adult, I embrace the journals of Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Julia Cameron. I marvel at the monthly beauty in Traverse and Santa Barbara magazines and soak up serenity in Yoga Journal. Sundays are reserved for fragrant mugs of Earl Grey tea and the New York Time’s style section, transporting me to the city I planned to take by storm as a starry-eyed young writer.

As an author, I know what it takes to put heartfelt words to the page to create intimate works you hope live on forever. My loyalty took solid root in precious hours spent reading to my kids. My daughter, Jenna, now 24, loved The Berenstain Bears. Every single time I tried to skip a page to move bedtime along, she caught me. My son, Eric, thought I was the coolest mom in the world because I screwed up Dr. Seuss rhymes and channeled the voices of Grover, Elmo and Cookie Monster while reading him Sesame Street books.

Knowing that my daughter’s love of reading has never waned, even as her generation’s habits fuel the demise of print media, is the bloom of literary seeds planted long ago— memories especially sacred now amid the loud quiet of empty nest.

Books and periodicals let us embrace solitude without feeling lonely. They require no passport for entry, instantly transporting dreamers to the intoxicating locales of Mumbai, Provence, Istanbul, Paris, South Africa or Fifth Avenue. Whether you celebrate the words of Chaucer and Dickenson, Michael Crichton or Harry Potter, chick lit or Rolling Stone, or that bestselling Bible with a fine Merlot, Guinness, or milk and cookies, reading is one of life’s most satisfying pleasures.

This March, give technology a rest and pick up a book—and may the Luck ‘O the Irish be with you with every sweet word you inhale. ###

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Honoring World Down Syndrome Day with 21 Days of Inspiration

In honor of World Down Syndrome Day, Saturday March 21, 2009, the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles (DSALA) is presenting 21 daily quotes by 21 people with Trisomy 21 who share what's it's like to have Down syndrome. For more, visit DSALA or World Down Syndrome Day.

Check Me Out on Flickr!

If you enjoy my photography, check out my new Flickr page. I'll be adding many more shots in the days to come. 

Weekend Adventures

This past weekend Jack finally got to meet our spirited and much-adored granddoggies, Griff and Zelda.  That's my handsome Jack with lovely Zelda at left. Griff (bottom) wasn't so sure he liked having the male competition, but he got used to it (and Jack) eventually. 

There's room for two smart herding dogs in this family!

'New BFFs' Judy Winter 2009.

Minute Vacations-March 2009

Fragile Beauty
Franklin Art Fair, Michigan 
Judy Winter 2008

Art fairs, garage sales and other cool summer adventures are just around the corner. Promise.

Words of Wisdom from Eugene Ionesco-March 2009

Words of Wisdom-March 2009

"It's not the answer that enlightens,
but the question."-Eugene Ionesco

Judy Winter 2008