From the CEO
My work has me always scanning for stories related to inclusion and disability. There are often feel-good stories of success in challenging situations or those of collaboration and integration. Some can be the impetus for these monthly newsletter topics. In a single week I read a story about a migrating whale who had lost its tail and then learned that a marathon swimmer doesn’t kick. Let me elaborate.
A gray whale was spotted off the coast of California on its 6,000-mile journey between Alaska and Mexico. Aerial shots clearly showed that it was missing its massive tail, theorized to be the victim of an encounter with a boat collision or perhaps a fishing net. Using its pectoral fin and leaning to one side, it was able to maintain a pace of three miles per hour (just 25% below the typical speed) to make this marathon migration.
Later in the same week I met Jeannie Zappe, a marathon open water swimmer, at Indiana Tech. In teaching a room of students what it took to be a master swimmer, we all learned that kicking was not part of the formula. Through lowering one’s head and not kicking, the body floats higher on the water and progress is made with less energy expended.
Both had traversed long journeys, one in its natural habitat and the other in a foreign one, and yet both did it without the use of lower “extremities.”
What do these two stories have in common?
Join us at the Disabilities Expo
Saturday, May 13th from 10:00-3:00
at the Memorial Coliseum
Did you know that the Disabilities Expo is for anyone, not just those with disabilities and their caregivers? The Disabilities Expo serves as a resource fair for disabled people and those that care for them AND is a celebration of our Northeast Indiana Disabilities Community! We hope that those who don’t fall under the disability/caregiver category know that they’re welcome as well. This free event is a great opportunity to get to know about friends and neighbors with disabilities, or just to have fun!
In addition to the over 120 vendors providing products and services for people with disabilities, families, and caregivers, the day is packed with demonstrations and performances by those with disabilities in our community. Turnstone will host a power soccer demonstration, a boccia (adapted bocce) demonstration & clinic, and provide other adaptive activities throughout the day. Performers with disabilities will show off their talents with groups like the Whitley County Dazzlers, the Jesters of the University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne Dance Collective, and more. Disabled artists from all over Northeast Indiana will be showcasing and selling their artwork; our staff never leaves empty-handed!
The fun doesn’t stop at services and performances. The Spectrum Sisters, a group of adult women on the autism spectrum supported by My Autism Ally, will be face painting. Most vendors will have fun activities at their booths, including a scavenger hunt hosted by PQC Works. This year’s collaborative art project will be a large mural created on white cardboard. Markers will be available so everyone can leave their mark, either by creating artwork or just signing their name. We’re ensuring everyone can participate by having adjustable tables, markers that can be used with your mouth (that won’t be reused by anyone else), adaptive tools for those that can’t grip the markers, along with stamps, and cookie cutters to trace. At the game center you will find jumbo checkers (with adaptations), jumbo Connect 4, ring toss, shuffleboard, and cornhole!
We know people have concerns when attending large events, especially when accompanying someone with a disability. To ease some of those concerns, our event is free and AWS Foundation is hosting parking. If your child or loved one gets overstimulated by noise and light, one of our vendors will have a mobile sensory room and we have sensory items like headphones, fidgets, and sunglasses to check out at the info table. We use the conference center entrance, so you can drop off those who have trouble walking or wheeling far distances right at the door, and we have seating around the venue. Are you bringing someone with anxiety? We will have therapy dogs roaming the event all day to ensure the comfort of our attendees.
Everyone is welcome at the Disabilities Expo. We hope to see you there!
by: Joni Schmalzried
Love languages…we have all heard of them. There have been books written and movies made that highlight the different love languages. The whole premise of the idea is that different people with different personalities give and receive love in different ways.
It was brought to my attention recently (thank you Lindsey) that in addition to the typically talked about love languages of words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch – there are other love languages that we don’t immediately recognize. These types of ‘love’ can come from people who don’t necessarily communicate in the same way as others. The one I want to talk about today is the love language of ‘knowing about you.’
The best example I can give is a student I had both when I student taught, and again when he was a student at the high school level. His love language is remembering and recounting the personal information and shared experiences that he has had with you. Our paths still cross today and any time I see ‘Richard’ the first thing he says to me is: “Hi Joni Schmalzried. You used to be Joni Smart until you married Lee in 1985. Your dad is Homer and your mom is Joyce. How is your son Nathaniel? I remember when he was born in 1990. Do you remember when we did the play at Northwest? I remember when ‘Sally’ and ‘Judy’ used to fight in our class at Huntington North (laugh). Do you still live in Bippus?” ...and the conversation goes on. 😊
Until it was pointed out to me I always thought of Richard with such great fondness and knowledge of his penchant for facts and specific memories. Thanks to someone more perceptive than me, I now know that his ‘love language’ to me, and I am sure countless others, is the memories that he holds and shares from the past and present. Though I hadn’t always realized it - I leave those encounters feeling lighter, happier, and smiling with nostalgia.
Thank you, Richard for your love language. Thank you, Lindsey for pointing out such an important observation. Next time you are with someone who may not show what we think of as the typical languages of love – look deeper. I think we will be amazed at what we see.
DeKalb Unified Bowlers
Win State Title!
Unified Sports are leagues played by people with and without intellectual disabilities. Through Special Olympics Indiana, many schools in Northeast Indiana have Unified Sports teams. We were excited to find out that the DeKalb High School unified bowling team won the state championship in Indianapolis on March 18. You can read more about it on KPC News.
You may be wondering about the name of our newsletter. Patti gave a history of the name and its meaning for our organization. You can read all about it here.
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