The Cleveland Indians Garner Media Attention with Home Runs

Home runs from catcher/first baseman Carlos Santana and second baseman Jason Kipnis Saturday, August 24th garnered the Cleveland Indians media attention. Reportedly prior to the game an eight year old Tribe fan Niko Lanzarotta asked both players to hit home runs for him. The feel good twist to the story comes with the fact Niko lives with cerebral palsy.

Really I’m amazed at exactly how much talk the story stimulated. My August 27th Google Alerts “cerebral palsy” email contained coverage from News Net 5, Fox Sports, Syracuse.com, Waiting for Next Year Blog, and Larry Brown Sports. Yeah, I double checked to confirm I didn’t mistakenly click my Google Alerts “Cleveland” message.

Now my initial reaction after reading about the occurrence the day prior went something like “Cute story” and I proceeded with my day. Personally I didn’t consider the happening worthwhile enough to share via social media. Yet the continued reporting finally broke me and I quipped on Facebook.

Cleveland Indians Facebook Post

To think too I would’ve been eight years old during the 1995 season allows me to appreciate how much Niko must’ve enjoyed the blasts from Santana and Kipnis. I mean what if I could say when I was eight, third baseman Jim Thome and right fielder Manny Ramirez blasted homers for me? Or, center fielder Kenny Lofton stole a base for me. Or, shortstop Omar Vizquel turned a double play for me. Or, my favorite player starter Charles Nagy struck out a batter for me.

So yes, I get Niko’s feel good emotions and I’m happy for him.  Imagine the coolness when on the first day of school his classmates asked “What did you do this summer?” The answer, “Have Santana and Kipnis hit home runs for me.” Yeah, try topping that. 🙂

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Seeing Beyond the Surface

Two months ago I corralled some friends together and we attended a Cleveland Indians game at Progressive Field. While the outing occurred in June, a conversation from the night still echoes in my head time to time. Begin scene, set in the car waiting to drive out from the parking garage onto the street.

Indians Game Outing June 2013

My friends and I take a picture together after an Indians victory.

Friend: My legs are sore.
Me: Be glad you can use your legs.
Friend: But at least people in wheelchairs always have a seat.
Me: Yeah but they also are more likely to get ulcers and have other secondary health issues.
Friend: Zach hates me.

Now the conversation’s tone remained relaxed and fun. I’m not easily offended or quick to jump on the able-bodied population’s tendency to take abilities for granted. Rather I felt good and I wanted to josh around.

Plus earlier in the week I completed this The Mobility Resource article, “Engineering Assistive Technology: Developing the Wearable Robot Indego.” Interviewing engineer Michael Goldfarb left on my mind the secondary health issues people using wheelchairs encounter.

So yeah I guess a serious message did arise through my playful talk, hence the reason I feel the above story proved worth sharing. That message, often life embodies more complexities than what may appear at surface level.

Really such a lesson extends beyond the disability community too. Anytime you feel envious, whether due to somebody’s relationship, financial situation, or what not, know somewhere headaches, frustrations, and issues exist. These troubles your envy blinds you from recognizing.

Hopefully two points stay with you as you finish reading my post here today. First, remember to appreciate life’s small gifts which frequently go unacknowledged. Secondly, realize the fallacies associated with jealousy.

Back to School Reading

Over the past four years I wrote many articles for various platforms relevant to the current back to school season. Today let’s revisit some as kids, parents, and teachers continue to gear up for the 2013-2014 academic year.

“Country Songs for High School Students” (Yahoo! Voices)

Most students seem to rush to get through high school. “I can’t wait until I get out of this hell hole” I heard from my classmates back when. Yet high school also contains much to appreciate, something I hope others come to recognize from this Yahoo! Voices article.

“Bullying: A Personal Issue for Musician Chris Hendricks” (The Mobility Resource)

Last winter I interviewed musician Chris Hendricks about his anti-bullying program Breaking Down Barriers. Born with cerebral palsy, Hendricks became an easy target for bullies. Compared to other bullying related articles I’ve written, my talk with Hendricks stands out due to his approach to the topic. He sees bullying as a self-confidence issue first and foremost.

 

i-Pad

Special education? There is an app for that… well apps. Photo: Wikimedia Commons user Gyfjonas

“7 Apps to Use as Assistive Technology” (Special Education Guide)

In general Special Education Guide (www.specialeducationguide.com) offers an incredible resource for teachers and special needs parents.  From the articles I wrote for the site “7 Apps to Use as Assistive Technology” remains my favorite. By mentioning specific apps the piece becomes very practical, or so I think.

Interviews with Intervention Specialists Anshawn Ivery and Kelsey Kimmel (The Mobility Resource)

On separate occasions I interviewed intervention specialists Anshawn Ivery and Kelsey Kimmel for The Mobility Resource. Ivery works at Entrepreneurship Preparatory School while Kimmel spent the 2012-2013 academic year at Southington Local Schools. Both Ivery and Kimmel provide helpful insights worth reading.

Off Balanced (Available on the Kindle and Nook)

Alright, time to plug my book! I really feel Off Balanced provides potential to teenagers with disabilities, their classmates, and teachers too. Teens with disabilities can take comfort in knowing they are not alone in their battle for self-confidence. Classmates can realize despite the differences handicaps cause, teens with disabilities share common adolescent interests and desires. Off Balanced could trigger teachers to think about new possible ways to connect with special needs pupils.

My Role with Handicap This Growing

You may recall from my April post “Joining the Handicap This Team,” Handicap This Productions (HTP) welcomed me aboard to serve as their Guest Blog Coordinator. Today I am thrilled to announce August marks a growing period for my position. To Handicap This blog readers the growth means more posts from guest bloggers plus regular team posts from yours truly.

Handicap This

In early June I enjoyed a nice dinner at Table 45 with Tim Wambach, Mike Berkson, and Denis Berkson (not pictured).

Guest posts will continue to run on Fridays. My Handicap This team posts will go live on the World Wide Web the second Tuesday of each month. I feel by packaging in my posts with Tim Wambach, Mike Berkson, and others on the team, Handicap This becomes an even better cerebral palsy resource. Allow me to explain, just in case that came off egotistical.

One challenge engrained in building an effective cerebral palsy resource involves the vast differences in CP cases. Mike Berkson and I offer a perfect illustration. We both live life with CP but how the condition affects us varies significantly. Surely commonalities exist but why shouldn’t we also acknowledge the differences?

Through using the same blogging platform Mike and I will indirectly accomplish exactly that! Our team posts will not only express similarities but expose differences. I will hit on topics which appeals to others with mild cases. Meanwhile Mike will continue to reach people in the cerebral palsy community dealing with more complex cases.

Heck, even in the similarities differences will emerge. See Mike’s Handicap This team blog post on pain management “Pain Management- 5 Ways to Cope with the Pain.” Now reread my previously published post from here “Relieving Cerebral Palsy Related Pain and Discomfort.” You get two widely different approaches to the same topic.

Add in posts from Tim, Mike’s father Denis, and others (including our guest bloggers). Suddenly you get insights from caregivers, family, and friends too! Basically you get an increasing comprehensive look at cerebral palsy, and other topics. Pretty cool if you ask me!

Do you have a question about Handicap This’ blog? Please contact me at zach@handicapthis.com.    

Tracking New Year Resolutions: July ’13 Recap

Well, by now I think you know the routine. A new month means looking back on the previous one to evaluate whether I’m successfully accomplishing my 2013 New Year resolutions. This whole public evaluation serves two main purposes. First, these public self-assessments force me to clasp personal accountability. Secondly, I wish to inspire you to keep pursuing your 2013 New Year resolutions.

Resolution #1- Utilize My Youtube Channel Via Vlogging
Specific Goal- Vlog Twice a Month
Accomplished? YES

Embracing a tentative schedule once again enabled me to achieve my Youtube vlogging goal. Typically I aim to record and post a video blog during a month’s second and fourth weeks. Now in July I didn’t publish my first video, “Thank You to My Book Readers,” until Saturday, July 20th.

However, missing my first self-imposed deadline created urgency. I knew to reach my Youtube goal I must get that first video done ASAP. The second video then came easily. Watching fellow author John W. Quinn’s video “What’s It Like To Have Cerebral Palsy?” sparked my motivation to record the following.

Resolution #2- Post Here on a Weekly Basis
Specific Goal- Post every Friday
Accomplished? YES

Anyone with a time orientated goal should benefit from the trick I’m using to meet my weekly Friday deadline. Mentally I’m determined to write out my blog posts here by Thursday at the latest. So say your goal involves waking up earlier in the morning. If you normally get up at 7:00am but desire to change that to 6:00am, fix your mindset to awake at 5:00am. Embedding 5:00am into your brain will make waking up at 6:00am no challenge at all.

Really the above could help you reach all goals. Everything requires time. The earlier you get up, the more time you enjoy in the day to tackle that to-do list.

Resolution #3- Keep to Due Dates
Specific Goal- Don’t Receive Any Inquiries About ETAs
Accomplished? NO

Again on a technicality I can say I did accomplish my third New Year resolution, the one giving me the most trouble to date. No one sent me inquiries about when they can expect that guest post or article by. Still I’m not one to celebrate cheap victories and therefore I consider my third resolution unaccomplished.

Allow me to give an example. In June I arranged to write a guest post for a site called The Indie Mine. Initially I told my contact there to expect my post Wednesday, July 3rd. On Tuesday, July 2nd I sent a followup email saying I didn’t want to rush getting the post done and I instead will send my submission Monday, July 8th. The response I received read in part,

“No need to concern yourself with how we’ll be able to handle delays. Just fire off an email when you’re ready or close to being ready and I should be able to squeeze it into our schedule.”

Entering August my progress on the guest post proves stagnant. Sure, I could ramble off excuses to why “Write Indie Mine Guest Post (ASAP)” stayed on my weekly to-do lists all July. Yet I will digress. My main point stands, I did not keep to due dates.