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.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Happy 46th Anniversary, Special Olympics!!

Photo courtesy of Special Olympics. Used with permission.

Did you know that it has been 46 years since Special Olympics played its first games in the backyard of Eunice Kennedy Shriver's home?

It's true

Special Olympics has since grown into a special needs giant, changing the lives of millions of individuals with intellectual disabilities worldwide, and those of their families, by giving those with exceptionalities the chance to compete in sporting activities, too.

Huge kudos to everyone that has made this wonderful organization the success it is today, especially its talented atheletes.

Special thanks to the remarkable Eunice Kennedy Shriver. She remains one of my heroes.

Focused on ability.

"You are the stars and the world is watching you."

More on Special Olympics here.

You can visit my professional Facebook page here. It's updated more often. You can purchase my book at amazon and other major booksellers. Follow me on Twitter.

Weekly Faces of Ability-RicStar's Camp

Making music at RicStar's Camp 2014 The lovely Rose.

The beautiful Rose.

Her name suits her perfectly.

You can visit my professional Facebook page here. It's updated more often. You can purchase my book at amazon and other major booksellers. Follow me on Twitter.
RicStar's Camp Version of Pharrell Williams HAPPY!
Judy Winter Image. RicStar's Camp.

Simple advocacy request, folks! 

Just 90 more YouTube views and we will have met our immediate, short-term goal of 1,000 views of the Eric 'RicStar' Winter Music Therapy Camp version of Pharrell Williams crazy popular song HAPPY! The video was filmed at RicStar's Camp 14th annual summer camp this past June.

Help us show the world what those with exceptionalities CAN do, while changing the faces of disability. A quick advocacy click will make us all HAPPY and just a little more aware. Please share, too! 

We've got this!!

Thanks in advance!!

Click here to watch the video.  

Great way to shake up Monday.

You can visit my professional Facebook page here. It's updated more often. You can purchase my book at amazon and other major booksellers. Follow me on Twitter.

Judy Winter Image 2014

Keeping up with Amy Purdy and Oprah--a Match Made in Media/Special Needs Advocacy Heaven

The beautiful, multi-talented and gutsy Amy Purdy has announced that she will be part of Oprah's "Life You Want" event this fall.

Leave it to Oprah to quickly scoop up another winning personality to share the spotlight with.

Leave it to Amy Purdy to make gold out of whatever she touches.

Kudos all around.

Focused on ability.

Keep up with Amy Purdy here.

You can visit my professional Facebook page here. It's updated more often. You can purchase my book at amazon and other major booksellers. Follow me on Twitter.


Celebrating freedom and music at RicStar's Camp. Judy Winter Image.

Did you know that the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26th, 1990?

Here's a message from the President and additional information about this ground-breaking law so you can educate yourself further.

Yes, you should know.

As the President said, the work isn't yet finished.

Equal access. Equal opportunity. For all.

You can visit my professional Facebook page here. It is updated more often.
You can purchase my book at amazon and other major booksellers.
Follow me on Twitter.


The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), also known as the Disability Treaty, is designed to protect and ensure equal rights for those with exceptionalities throughout the world.

So far, 147 countries have ratified this important work. 

The United States has not yet done so.

Please, educate yourselves, put on your advocacy hats, raise your voices loudly, and call on the U.S. Senate to ratify this treaty before they take a break in August.

Here's a link from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation that tells you how to do just that.

Be part of important change. Don't just benefit from the bold actions of others.

This is something we can ALL do, and should.

You can visit my professional Facebook page here. It is updated more often.
You can purchase my book at amazon and other major booksellers.
Follow me on Twitter.

Thursday, July 03, 2014


Cinderella's Castle. Disney World Nov. 2013. Judy Winter Image. All rights reserved.

Happy 4th of July, everyone!!

Gotta love a country that's home to Mickey Mouse and Disney World!

Freedom rocks.

What does it mean to you and your family?

Monday, June 23, 2014

All photos by Judy Winter 2014

Eric 'RicStar Winter Music Therapy Camp 
(aka RicStar's Camp)Version of 

Pharrell Williams' HAPPY Song

Here's our version of Pharrell Williams' popular and catchy HAPPY song, featuring the campers, staff and volunteers of the 12th annual Eric 'RicStar' Winter Music Therapy Camp, named in honor of my son, Eric. 

He had a remarkable gift for music and passed away too soon at age 12 in 2003. RicStar's Camp honors Eric's legacy and love for music.

Please share this video with all you know and help us create greater awareness of the beautiful, diverse faces of exceptionalities and the power of music and RicStar's Camp (a community jewel) to change lives.

We focus on celebrating abilities by letting campers show us what they CAN do. 

Campers never disappoint.

No one is turned away because of disability or financial need.

Thanks to Jon Whiting and Steve Boughton of MSU for their outstanding professional work showcasing what we do each summer.

Making life better for this population through our remarkable camp makes me soooo HAPPY!!

So does this video. I know Eric is smiling.

Yeah. It's that good. :)

See for yourself here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Reminder: Find me on Facebook!

My professional Facebook page 'Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs' (same name as my book), now includes much more frequent updates than this blog currently does. 
Judy Winter Image 2014

Did You Know?

The multi-talented journalist, Lisa Ling, has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

Check out the story here.

Certified Therapy Dog and School Dog, Jack, taking a well-deserved bow. Pure canine magic.


In case you missed my TEDx talk, "Schooled by a Dog," here's the YouTube link.

My battle cry: Certified Therapy Dogs in Every Classroom in the Nation!!!

Here's one of my many special needs interviews, this one close to home.  
Judy Winter Image 

Minute Vacation

Escape for a little while.

Breathe out.

One mom voices her admiration for Special Olympics

Make that one mom with TWO kids with Down syndrome that found in SO a place to just be a "typical" family.

Isn't that what we all want?

Read it here.

Keeping up with Eric LeGrand

Read the update here.


Good Weekly Resource on Facebook

Redefine Disability.

More here.

Extreme 22-year-old athlete with spina bifida, Aaron Fotheringham, takes on skate-board parks and wins impressively.

Don't tell him what he can't do, and don't say he's "confined" to a wheelchair, either.

Check it out here.

Focused on ability.

Hear Yee!! 2014 Call for Entries

The Kennedy Center VSA annual juried competition.

Find out more here.

Judy Winter Image 2014
Weekly Words of Wisdom: Maya Angelou.

"All great achievements require time."

Be patient.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Judy Winter Image 2014

Kudos to Meryl Davis and Amy Purdy-Dancing with the Stars 2014!

Meryl Davis (has dyslexia) and Amy Purdy (double amputee) took first and second place last night on the finale of Dancing with the Stars.

Both women have worked incredibly hard to overcome some big challenges and achieve impressive success. Both are mucho talented, beautiful and gracious, and Amy just made ground-breaking history.

I've been doing this special-needs-advocacy work a long, long time. I began at a time when few if any even people talked about the potential of this population, much less looked beyond disability to showcase individual talents.

This is a big deal.

Today, my special needs advocacy heart is overflowing.

Two remarkable women. Two Olympic champions. Two great dancers. Two stellar role models for young women everywhere. No tables thrown. No fighting. No profanity. No embarrassment.

Just class and talent and dignity and ability showcased in all its glory on live television. 

Long overdue.

There is no runner-up status here. Both women were/are spectacular.

The ladie's partners were pretty darn sweet, too. 

Special shout out to Derek Hough. The way he approached this unfamiliar special-needs situation showed rare class, professionalism and total commitment to learning something brand new and out of his comfort zone.

I love that he didn't handle Amy with disability kid gloves or turn her into a DWTS mascot.

He looked beyond the obvious to challenge this incredibly talented and spirited young Paralympian, helping her achieve her full dancing potential, and then some.

Paid off in dancing spades.

Hough was willing to take a chance on himself, too. And let's not forget his incredible talent as a choreographer/dancer.

I've no doubt Derek Hough is a better person today because of this remarkable experience.

We all are.

Best season of Dancing with the Stars, ever!!

Thank you for the thrill ride and the media-worthy example. This was about so much more than grabbing a glittery trophy.

Pure class, and focused on ability.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Olympic Ice-Dancing Gold Medalist and big contender for the Mirabel on Dancing with the Stars tonight Meryl Davis is dyslexic.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Image courtesy of Sprout Film Festival


The annual festival showcases several works of art featuring individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

It's held from Sat. May 31st thru Sun. June 1st in NYC.

Sprout does a lot of other good stuff, too.

Check out all the Sprout details here.

Jack taking a well-deserved bow after our TEDx Lansing talk.

My TEDx Lansing Talk

I think I forgot to share my TEDx Lansing talk Schooled by a Dog with you here.

So here you go. It's about my experience/success using a therapy dog (my dog, Jack) in public schools during the past three years (including with students with special needs) and my belief that all schools could benefit greatly from these terrific canine teachers.

Watch it here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Happy Birthday, Stevie Wonder!!

Celebrating 64 years of Wonder-ful music.

Focused on remarkable ability.

Watch the YouTube tribute here.

Reminder: Find me on Facebook!

My professional Facebook page 'Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs' (same name as my book), now includes much more frequent updates than this blog currently does. 

Feel free to visit me there, too.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Judy Winter Image

Life After Paralysis

Monday Inspiration: Karen LeGrand and her son Eric LeGrand.

Here's a belated Mother's Day message from Karen LeGrand, mother of former Rutger's football player, Eric LeGrand, who was paralyzed from the neck down during a Rutger's football game.

Read the words of wisdom here.

Judy Winter Image

Monday Inspiration: Amy Purdy.

I'm a big fan of the Paralympic bronze medalist and fan fav on the current season of Dancing with the Stars.

She's amazing, and focused on remarkable ability.

Follow her and her wonderful DWTS success, here.

Visual courtesy of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation


It's that time again. Time to submit your choice for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation 2014 BEST DAD ON WHEELS!

Go to it!

RicStar's Camp. Erik Taylor Photography.

UM Engineering Students Take on Software Challenge that Could Open Up the World for Young Girl with Cerebral Palsy, and Many Others

Please take a moment to watch this wonderful video highlighting the power of technology to open up the world for those with special needs.

Computer Science with Soul features one of our favorite RicStar Camp participants, the beautiful, smart and gutsy Grace Simon.

It is a potentially life-changing project of University of Michigan (UM) Engineering College students, the techi-software results of which could impact many other kids (and adults) with special needs, especially those with speech and motor challenges.


This is one time that I can say with my whole MSU-Green-to-the-alumni-core heart, Go BLUE!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The New R-Word- RESPECT

Seems like the perfect day to share my Friday Ludington Daily News column with you, too.

It's my response to the recent removal of the words mental retardation/mentally retarded from Michigan laws.

About time.


In Honor of Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, my beautiful baby boy, Eric. 

Gone too soon.

Enough said.

judy winter photo. all rights reserved.

It's Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day!

Spread the word!

logo credit here. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Friday, March 21, 2014.

Get your sock groove on!
More info here.

Logo courtesy of same. Used with permission.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kudos, Parents magazine! 

Attn: Media!

The April 2014 issue features siblings on the cover, one of whom has autism. My son appeared in his own full-page shot in a photo essay of kids with special needs in this very parenting magazine years ago.

It was ground breaking then and this cover is ground breaking now.

Congratulations, Parents editorial decision makers.

Hope this is the beginning of an editorial trend, one that features children with a wide range of exceptionalities.

We've come a long way, special needs baby!

Read more about this here.

Judy Winter Image 2014. All rights reserved.

Leprechaun sighting.


Don't drink too much green beer...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Certified therapy dog, Jack, taking a well-deserved bow at TEDx Lansing talk.

Let the certified-therapy-dog-in-every-school-in-the-nation-educational-reform revolution begin.

My TEDx Lansing talk is now on YouTube. 

I look/sound like I mean business.

I do.