Tuesday, February 26, 2013

RicStar's Camp Update!

Reminder to all RETURNING RicStar's Camp participants! Just two more days before registration and all the music making and fun open up to ALL. Secure your place now. Camp will be full. Wait list rarely, if ever, moves. You've been warned. :)

Focused on Celebrating Abilities!

Erik Taylor Photography. All rights reserved.

The Sandwich Kid & Special Needs Sibs:

A few years ago, I was involved in a wonderful sibling project called, The Sandwich Kid, a short film about the role of siblings in special needs families. Filmmaker/friend/mom, Keri Bowers, just re-shared this wonderful work with me and now I’m sharing it with you. I’m proud to have been part of this valuable effort, one that still has great impact today. See it here.

If you can’t watch the entire promo but would like to hear my words, I come in around 6:30. But I think the entire piece is worth your time and view. You can find out more about the complete video of The Sandwich Kid and Keri’s other work on special needs here.

Siblings of brothers/sisters with exceptionalities will always be my heroes. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Faces of Ability: Evan Fiorella

My hubby and I loved having dinner  last night with our Canadian friends and RicStar's Camp participant, Evan Fiorella and his terrific mom, Alison. We are so proud of Evan and inspired by his amazing talent and determination in light of the challenges of having cerebral palsy and  wheelchair use. 

Here is a recent State News feature on Evan and his love for and study of music at Michigan State University's Community Music School. Well worth the read. Makes me proud to be a Spartan.

We're also incredibly proud that RicStar's Camp exists. Music changes lives. So do great families like the Fiorellas.

What's your child's big dream?

Monday, February 18, 2013


Heads up! Get on board with the new R-word. Respect.

Yeah, I like that.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Today, I remember my son, my muse, my greatest teacher, Eric 'RicStar' Winter. Reflecting on rich lessons learned from a light that still shines so brightly. Gone a decade. Gone too soon. 

Forever in my heart.

Judy Winter Photography. All rights reserved.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Reminder: Most of my special needs posts now appear on my professional Facebook page. Here are the links to  my current social networking sites.

Facebook- Special Needs Parenting Posts
Pinterest- Special Needs Parenting Board-Fav Resources
Twitter-Judy Winter
Tumblr-Winter Visions: pretty things. pretty words. pretty images. General interest blog.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Brief update to the post below and others like it, Sometimes I'm asked if publicly addressing/flogging such naughty behaviors only adds to the person's fame/name/time in the media spotlight. In this case, I don't think Joan Rivers needs my help with fame. She's already got it.

What people sometimes don't fully understand about my work is that one of the big responsibilities I've taken on as a special needs advocate/writer is to not remain silent, always shake it off, join in the nervous snickering and then quietly go away when the special needs population is insulted or worse. Whether or not the person in question ever apologizes isn't the point. Although, if they do, it's a bonus.

I boldly speak up in hope of bringing greater awareness, sensitivity, understanding and much-needed intelligent conversation about those with special needs to help counter the on-going perpetuation of deep-seated ignorance, stereotypes and insulting behaviors about disability that exist today. I bring words to light and examine them. That's part of my job and I hope my actions help give others permission to speak up, generate valuable conversation and become effective advocates in their own way.

In short, I believe strongly that:
Saying nothing. 
Doing nothing. 
Changes nothing. 

And changing nothing goes against everything my passionate work/advocacy of the past twenty years stands for. So, expect more calling-them-out mini rants from me in the future. I call it balancing things out and working loudly for needed change.  You can agree or disagree with what I write. 

My hope is you'll raise your voices where needed, too. There's already way too much silence.

Tuesday a.m. Mini Rant: Special Needs Slap on the Head to Joan Rivers, always focused on rudely bullying everyone with her nasty tongue. 

In recapping 2013 Grammy fashion hits/misses on E's Fashion Police, Rivers slams one artist wearing a dress she doesn't like by saying: "She looks like the Homecoming Queen for the Special Olympics." Yes, she said that.

In a world increasingly focused on the devastating effects of bullying, why does E/Fashion Police think this woman and her rude, hurtful digs add anything to this show? I just turn it off.

You can do better, E.

You, too, Joan Rivers. You're old enough to know better.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Weekly Special Needs Coverage TV Alert Recap. 

It's been a good week for awareness for a diverse range of exceptionalities. Check out a couple of my favs on my Facebook page. Kudos, Katie Couric and Ricki Lake!

Monday, February 04, 2013

Monday Mini Rant: 

A couple of days ago, I viewed a great video piece about a young man with special needs. Overall, it was well reported and powerful. But, as too often is the case, it also included an introduction to the story that included the words, 'the man 'suffers' from..... (name of his disability). An unnecessary, negative word that detracted from otherwise good reporting. It also suggests an air of pity.

So here's my reminder to the media. Please, try to refrain from using the word 'suffer' or 'suffering' whenever you are reporting on or writing about someone with special needs. 

How do you know they are suffering?

Better to simply say/report that the person has.....(name of condition), rather than suffers with.....
Please, lose the emotional, lacking-in-objectivity embellishment, one which may or may not be accurate. Thank you!

Monday Mini Rant over.  

Special Note: Here's an Article I penned a while back to help your further understand why such word usage is especially sensitive to many families facing the challenges of special needs parenting. 

When you know better, you do better.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Ravens Superfan, Matthew Jeffers, Gives Powerful Perspective on Super Bowl XLVII and On Life and Helps Redefine Disability

"The only disability in life, is a bad attitude." -Matthew Jeffers

As Super-Bowl Sunday approaches and the yearly sports furor escalates to new heights, here's some perspective from Baltimore Ravens superfan Matthew Jeffers, a 21-year-old acting student and senior at Townsend State University in Maryland. 

Jeffers, who is short statured, has boldly faced many tough life challenges and is now facing one more. His mother may be dying. Jeffers recently sent an e-mail entitled, 'A Reason to Win,' to Ravens Head Coach, John Harbaugh, hoping to fuel his team on to victory. Jeffer's words got the coach's attention big time. If the Ravens win on Sunday, they should offer a special thanks to Jeffers, who just may have provided the team with that special extra something and golden motivation needed to win it all. 

Everybody should view Jeffers powerful message. It's better than the Super Bowl commercials. Yes, it is. The media is all over this feel-good story. You'll be hearing more.

Thank you, Matthew Jeffers, for putting the game of life into perspective so beautifully.

Click here to watch the Ravens superfan  deliver his powerful words/performance.

A star is born, one focused on ability.