Monday, January 31, 2011

TV Alert-Independent Lens & The Goodwill Band

That great PBS program, Independent Lens, has produced another fascinating program worthy of our viewing time and intelligence, this one about a subject especially dear to my heart- the power of music for those with special needs.

Can you say RicStar's Camp? :)

For Once in My Life follows the intertwined lives of 29 adults with physical and intellectual disabilities as they work and socialize together at Goodwill Industries of South Florida. The group also finds a special connection as they join their individual love and talent for music to become part of the Goodwill Band. What happens as a result, is a storyline worth celebrating and a reminder of the power of focusing on individual abilities.

The program is scheduled for airing Tuesday, February 1st. But check your local listings for firm air date/times.

Find out more here.


Random Thoughts -Monday Mornings

Special Needs Kudos -2011 Special Olympics Scarf Project

Kudos to all those contributing to the 20911 Special Olympics USA/Scarf Project. According to the international organization that supports athletes worldwide with intellectual disabilities, the scarves will be used by various Special Olympics programs across the country and are symbols of Unity, Compassion and Support.

You can view some of the scarves and find out more about this effort here.

Warms the heart, too.

Photo Courtesy of Special Olympics.

Special Needs Alert -Last Day to Vote for Audrey Presby for New Fancy Nancy Book

Six-year-old, Audrey Presby, is in the running to become part of the popular 'Fancy Nancy' book series about confident young girls who love to dress up. I admit that I love looking through these books whenever I see them in the bookstore. So cute.

You can help Audrey become part of the literary dream by voting TODAY for the adorable California girl, who has Down syndrome and Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. Audrey is currently #24 out of more than 600 entries in the Fancy Nancy Fantastic Photo Contest.

The top 20 vote getters will move to the next stage of competition where a panel from HarperCollins, publishers of the series, will select the winner. How cool would it be to have a child with special needs included in this traditional and popular fancy girl book series? Very cool.

Audrey's got my vote. Now, she needs yours--TODAY!

To read more, click here.
To vote for Audrey, click here.

Photo Judy Winter 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Love this! -Secretariat the Movie

Just finished watching Secretariat (part of my new commitment to Friday night movies), and I give this flick 5 stars*****~ I'm a sucker for feel-good stories about underdogs who loudly prove the naysayers wrong. Great family fare, too.

Find our more about Secretariat and the movie, now on DVD, here.

Marvelous creatures.

Photo Judy Winter 2011

Judy Winter

Playing Photographer -Fun Photos

Lunchtime visitor.

Special Needs Shout Out! -Tanu Shivaswamy Wins School Spelling Bee by Signing

Ten-year-old, Tanu Shivaswamy, has cerebral palsy and can't speak; but the Texas fifth grader just won her school's spelling bee using American Sign Language.

Read the story here.

Congratulations,Tanu, and thanks! You just made my day.

Calling all Young Artists with Special Needs for CVS-VSA Compettition

Two of my fav resources, CVS Caremark’s All Kids Can CREATE program and VSA (the international organization on arts and disabilities) have joined together to offer young artists another great opportunity to see their work in action.

Here's the scoop: CVS Caremark All Kids Can is calling all young artists to participate in the 2011 All Kids Can CREATE program with their partner VSA. This year’s theme, Imagination Across America, invites children to share their favorite daydreams through art.

Artwork submitted before the February 4, 2011 deadline will be featured in an online gallery and considered for a national touring exhibition debuting in Washington, D.C. in June. Each week the CVS Caremark All Kids Can Facebook page will feature a
Submission of the Week from all 2011 entries. Find out more about that here.

Attention all art teachers: By submitting your students' artwork to the VSA and CVS Caremark All Kids Can CREATE call for art, you're eligible to receive $1,500 for use in your classroom. Up to five teachers will receive $1,500 each, based on the number of submissions from your class or school, the number of submissions from students with disabilities, and your answers to two short questions.

Submissions are open to children, ages 5-15, living within the United States (all 50 states and the District of Columbia.) For complete details and sample activities, click here.

I love it when good people join together to make great things happen for kids with special needs. Kudos CVS and VSA.

Words of Wisdom from Kurtis Lamkin -February 2011

Honoring the 25th Anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion

Taking a moment to remember that twenty-five years ago today the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded after launch, killing all seven crew members aboard. For our nation, and the world, excitement quickly turned to horror in a matter of minutes.

We should never forget such history and tragic human loss. View one take on the day's important story here.

Photo Judy Winter 2011

Judy Winter

Serving Others &

The best antidote I know for combating the world's ills, on-going injustice, and overwhelming bad news, is to serve others.

Find out how you can join the President and First Lady's call to action to do just that
here. United We Serve.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Update on RicStar's Camp 2011

In a previous post, I announced the dates of the 9th Annual Eric 'RicStar' Winter Music Therapy Camp (aka RicStar's Camp), held in honor of my son. Camp is open to individuals of all ages with a wide range of disabilities, and their siblings. The 2011 camp will be held on Thursday thru Saturday, June 16 thru 18th.

Registration for returning campers is open now through March 1st. After that date, registration opens to NEW campers, too. Warning! This popular camp fills up quickly. We had a long waiting list last year, one that included some disappointed alumni campers/families who failed to register before March 1st. If you want to be there, don't delay!

A registration form, which can be found at the camp link below, MUST be filled out for each camper. Those forms (please sign front and back), along with the stated camp fees below, may be mailed in beginning today to hold your spot. Camp fees are the same as last year: $185 for one camper, $350 for two campers same family, and $510 for three campers same family. Please contact camp director, Cindy Edgerton, if you are interested in receiving financial aid for camp. Our goal is to never turn anyone away due to financial hardship.

We are also in need of good volunteers and additional donations to help provide much-coveted scholarships, so please spread the word or join/support us yourself.

RicStar's Camp rocks, in more ways than one.

For more information, click here.
To view the camp video, click here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Death of Robert Sargent Shriver

My thoughts and prayers are with the Shriver family as they face the loss of their father, Robert Sargent Shriver, a great man and special needs advocate who organized the Peace Corps and served as its first director.

What an amazing life he lived, as did his wife Eunice Kennedy Shriver who passed away in 2009. If we all did just a fraction of what these two individuals did in their lives for others, we could solve many of the world's ills.

Read the tribute celebrating Sargent Shriver's life

Photo Judy Winter 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Take on Ricky Gervais & Golden Globes

The world is abuzz about host Ricky Gervais and his over-the-top performance at Sunday's Golden Globes. Here's my take, short and to the point.

Considering all the recent discussion/media coverage about the need for greater civility in light of the horrific tragedy in Tucson just days earlier (and honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. on Monday), I found Ricky Gervais' performance on Sunday's Golden Globes especially offensive, mean spirited and inappropriate, and not at all funny. I had enough and turned the channel. I believe we've become far too accepting of entertainment and behavior that is simply crass and profane, and I, for one, am tired of it all. How does this nasty stuff move us forward as a nation and people?

We can do better.

Photo Judy Winter 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. 2011

"Everybody can be great because everybody can serve." -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Have you had your dose of servitude today?

To read my take on the 25th Anniversary of this timeless holiday, click
here. My stand remains pretty much the same.

For learn more about Dr. King's work and Monday's Day of Service, or

Photo: Duncan Wyeth, executive director of he Michigan Commission on Disability Concerns, speaking at the 20th Anniversary ADA Celebration at Michigan's Capitol. Photo by Judy Winter.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Food For Thought 2011- Tucson Tragedy & Language Use

I already commented on the Tucson shooting in a previous blog, but the continuing coverage of this tragedy, especially the language often used to describe the shooter, has given me food for additional thought, and comment.

In our efforts to learn something of value from the recent Tucson tragedy, (and possible help change the angry rhetoric, bullying & public flogging that seems to rule today's world), perhaps we/media could start by not continually referring to the 22-year-old shooter responsible for this horrific act using such stereotypical words as nutcase, weirdo, crazy and lunatic. These harsh, ugly and outdated words do a grave disservice to millions of people who face tough mental health challenges daily without the resources required to help them or their families, many of whom will never commit an act of violence.

Jared Loughner is clearly a troubled young man who has committed an unspeakable, horrific act, after leaving far too many warnings in his troubled path. His life story is tragic, too. If we are to be a better people, we need to recognize that fact, too, and choose our words more carefully.

Good Resource: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Seasonal Beauty

After the tragic events of this past weekend, I felt the need to put something of beauty out into the world.


Reflecting on The Tucson Tragedy & Shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

My heart, prayers and thoughts continue to be with all those injured or killed in the horrific Tucson shooting last Saturday. I am especially shocked by the violent death of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green. No parent should have to bury a child. As someone who has done just that, I know the road that Christina's family faces in trying to come to terms with such a senseless loss will be extremely challenging. My heart aches for them, and for all the families.

As for Representative Gabrielle Giffords, the world needs more people like her, not less. I hope she recovers well enough to return one day to again serve the American people.

Bless the everyday heroes who stepped up to prevent further tragedy. At times like these, we are in great need of such examples. Our stunned nation should indeed take time to seriously reflect on this tragedy. As people continue to heatedly and loudly argue the cause of this tragedy and deflect the blame for this and other challenging world events, perhaps we would be best served by quietly examining our own daily actions and words.

That's where we'll find true healing, and create much-needed societal change.

Photo Judy Winter 2011

Dates Announced for 9th Annual RicStar's Camp

Dates for the 9th Annual Eric 'RicStar' Winter Music Therapy Camp (aka RicStar's Camp) have just been announced. The 2011 camp will be held on Thursday thru Saturday, June 16 thru 18th. More details to come, but as in past years, camp is expected to fill up quickly.

For more information, click here.

We're so proud that this wonderful event continues to honor our son's life and legacy and Eric's great love of music, while highlighting the abilities of so many terrific individuals with special needs. Bravo!

Photo of RicStar's Camp participant by Erik Taylor Photography 2010.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Food for Thought 2011

"A blind child guided by his mother, admires the cherry blossoms." -Kikakou