Thursday, October 20, 2011

Adaptive Sports


Through my life I have learned that there really isn't a sport that a person with a disability can’t do. In the article I wrote "Becoming and Staying Active", I briefly mentioned some of the sports I enjoy doing.  Of course the specific sports I listed: wheelchair football, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair racing, tennis and Kayaking are just some.
I have enjoyed playing sports for as long as I can remember. My family showed me that a kid can be a kid whether they use a wheelchair or not. For me sports started pretty young with my brothers and sisters. I remember going to the neighborhood swimming pool to race and play games or the local tennis court to play a game of tennis. If we weren't doing that then we were playing sports with the other neighborhood kids like street hockey, baseball, touch football or even kickball, (yes kickball even though I use a wheelchair).
When I got older, I got involved with more organized sports.  In middle school I started playing wheelchair football, horseback riding, which was a therapeutic program my parents got me involved in but its still a sport, wheelchair racing and swimming through the same program New York State Games for the Physically Challenged, sledge hockey, wheelchair basketball, softball, volleyball, fishing, golfing, bowling and even going out  kayaking on a lake or river with a group of friends.  There have been so many sports that I have tried through the years that I'm sure I am forgetting some!
For me not only are sports something I enjoy doing but its good exercise and definitely good stress relief after a long day or a long week.  There’s nothing better then hanging out with a group of friends and playing a game of wheelchair basketball or wheelchair football in a local gym.
If you want to learn about additional adaptive sports that I didn't mention or if you are having a difficult time locating adaptive sports in your area a couple of options are the Sports N Spokes website which is:   or

Friday, August 19, 2011


Asking someone for help or accepting help when it is offered is not always easy. Especially if you are an individual with a disability who is trying to become independent for the first time. You are trying to prove to yourself and to others that you have the ability to be independent. It is important to understand that you are not alone. Everyone needs help at sometime in their life whether they are an individual with a disability or not.
As an individual with spina bifida I have always had a hard time with this. I guess I had the idea that I wasn't independent unless I did everything on my own without help. If family offered help I was often too quick to reject the help. I couldn't have been more wrong! It is very important to understand that a very big part of independent living is knowing how and when to ask for and accept help. Even after being on my own for almost 20 years, it still isn't always easy for me to ask for help, but I am much better than I used to be. Through my adulthood. I have not only learned how to figure out if and when I need assistance but also learned how to ask for or accept the help so I can continue living on my own.
Unfortunately sometimes I learned the hard way. There have been times that I didn't ask for help I needed or accept help being offered and because of that I ended up having problems. I moved into the college dorms right after high school and like many 18 year old men and women that is when I got my first taste of independence. Being away from my parents and not having them around to tell me what to do. That freshman year was an eye opener. Everyone (including me) started to notice that in order for me to keep my independence there would be times I would need assistance. Of course even though I may have noticed that myself, doesn't mean I asked for it or accepted it when offered!
In 2001 I moved away from family for my first real full time job as a social worker. At first it was great. I was keeping my place clean and I was taking care of my personal needs. As time went on my responsibilities at work increased. It was common for me to work 10 to 12 hours a day or over 60 hours in a week. With that came increased stress. When that happened it affected some of my decision making and eventually it affected my health. When family asked how I was doing my response was always "fine" or "pretty good" not realizing that I really should have asked for help. Again even at times like this accepting help is not easy for me. I lost track of priorities and which should come first in my life which is me. This resulted in me getting very sick and leaving that job as well as some very close friends. I moved back in with my parents in order to receive the proper medical care. In other words decreased my independence which could have been prevented. Looking back now I should have slowed down with work and focused more on myself and my own needs.
Before I moved into my current apartment, I made sure that I was ready. I didn't want to repeat things that happened in the past. I needed to have everything set in place including a support network. I told myself that it is ok to ask them for help or accept it. I knew I may need assistance with certain things like general cleaning or organization to prevent health problems or maybe just someone close as a support. I still have a very busy schedule so it is easy to loose track of things. At times that I am either stressed from work or showing signs of getting sick, someone close can remind me to do things to prevent health problems. For me this is especially true if I am starting to get sick and don't realize it.
It is important for everyone to understand that we depend on ourselves more than anyone! We know ourselves better than anyone else. Having the ability and strength to ask for and accept help when needed came with time for me. It showed me that I am strong and able to live independent even when things are not going the way I want.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dave Carl - Volunteer and Communicator

Dave Carl-Motivational Speaker, Author and Social Worker

Here is a photo of Dave at the Walk N Roll for Spina Bifida last April 30th at Capital Lake in Olympia, WA.  He helped to coordinate and work out logistics for the one mile wrap up of the annual fundraiser benefiting the Washington State Spina Bifida Association.  

Dave's example of good communication and willingness to work within and for the community at large is something worth noting. 

Spina Bifida Association of Washington State

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Community resources have always been a very important part of my life. When I was working towards my independence, and now as a person who is living independent it has always been important to know what is available. There have been several times throughout my life that my family and I would be working on things such as health related issues, education, finances, etc. that required resources to help me (us) get through. The question is where are they and how do I contact them. As you know, it isn‘t always easy. If you don’t know where to start with your specific issue then who do you go to for ideas (in other words I needed a resource just to help locate resources!) I have learned through experience both personal as well as professional how to access resources needed. One of my first jobs was working as an Information and Referral Coordinator for a non profit agency. Not only did I need to know what services and resources were available but I needed to know how to locate resources that were not very easy to find.
First, what I usually do is try the phonebook. Many times that may either seem too obvious to people and therefore they don’t look there or they’ve opened up the phonebook and don’t know where to start. I have even worked with highly educated people (dr.‘s etc.) and they have this same issue. For me personally one example is in order for me to stay independent, I need someone to assist me with things around my apartment such as cleaning. If I don’t then it get very disorganized and this CAN and HAS in the past had a big effect on my health. I could look under “housekeepers” or “housecleaners” in the phonebook but they are often times very expensive so I needed to think of something else. When I was in Michigan I went through a local health/private duty agency which provided nursing as well as house cleaning. The way I located them is I thought of a simple word like “health” (as I mentioned it can affect my health) and then after checking the phonebook one thing lead to another until I found what I needed. If you can’t locate the specific thing you are looking for then I would suggest thing of words that have to do with it and try those words.
If you are having a difficult time with paying for rent, then you may not be able to just look under “rental Assistance” or “financial Assistance” in the phonebook. So what do you do? Try places like “non profits“, or “social services”. Even if they are not the specific places that will be able to assist you, often times they will be able to give you some good leads. Many of them answer questions like this daily or know of the appropriate agencies in the community.
Another resource would be a local or state support groups either for your specific disability or something similar to it. Often times support groups not only there to help during difficult times but it is likely that a member of the group has gone through similar issues and has suggestions. CIL'S (Center for Independent Living). The purpose of a CIL is to assist people with becoming and/or staying independent. If you contact the CIL they not only have information on resources but can assist with contacting them. To contact the CIL in your sate you can go online and type in “your state and Centers for independent living” for example “Washington State Centers for Independent Living” and it will take you to the different CIL’s for your state. Another thing to do online is go to the ILRU (Independent Living Research Utilization) website which is and then click on ILRU Directory of CIL's/SILC's. 

These are just a couple of examples.  If you are too embarrassed or want to be cautious about leaving your name then you need to understand that you don’t need to. Many places will ask for it but all you have to do is say that you would prefer not to give any personal information out. That is fine unless you are looking for information to be mailed or emailed or if they need to call you back.
Resources may be even closer than what I have mentioned. One major resource in my life is my family!  It hasn't always been easy for me to ask for help, but that is just because I am stubborn! of course that is definitely the one resource that I can trust the most!  What are some resources that are in your area?