Monday, February 21, 2011

Horseback Riding Lessons

Last week my facebook feed was FULL of all my mom friends talking about t-ball sign ups. Now I know that 3 is pretty young for children to play t-ball and I certainly agree that some of these parents get WAY to involved with over scheduling their children. But then again who and I to talk. I have the most scheduled life on the planet LOL ( but trust me I wish I didn't have to)  Having had grown up with a football coach for a father I have seen some crazy sports moms and dads, and even though I always said I would NEVER be one of those mom. I just never knew that the "option" would be taken away from me. Or that is what satan tried to make me believe.

So instead of whining about what James "cant" do I was going to focus on the sports that James can do and sports that he can be independent in. There are local special needs t-ball league for when he is 5 if that is something he wants to do but the reality is that he will always needs some sort of assistance a sport like that. That is fine of course but I want to expose him to activities that put him on the same level as his peers. James should have to be resigned to always being on the "special" teams. So on a search I went :-)

And I found Therapeutic horseback riding. I had known about it and St. Louis told us it was one of the best therapies for kids post SDR that there are. So I really focused on getting James enrolled. and after a mountain of paperwork....Sunday was his first lesson

James loved it. He got to brush his pony Princess and helped lead her around the paddock to get her ready to ride. When he got on her he spent several minute leaning dow to give her kisses. It was SO sweet. He could barely get started riding for hugging and kissing her. When we asked if he was ready to ride that is when he got nervous. He whined a bit but after about 5 or 6 steps he was telling Princess to "go!" He really had to work all of his muscles to keep balanced on the pony but he did a great job. My Dad and I were on each side to catch him and also to help him push his feet into the saddle.  Even thought he just rode about 15 min he was exhausted from the hard work of balancing. It was a great workout and FUN too! I really hope this is something that he loves to do because it is a sport that I can see him doing independently when he gets older. We will be going every Sunday for lessons and I am sure lots of pictures will be forth coming!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

PLAY! Sharon Johnston Playground

I am very excited about the new playground that will be built this Spring in my local area. For those of you that are on the Jump in for James Facebook site here this post is all the details you were asking for and if not contact me and I hope I can answer them for you.  Before I get into too much detail let me tell you about what it is like to take a special needs child to a playground.

When James was diagnosed with PVL- Cerebral Palsy there were many "dream" for James that I had to revise. There were hardships in life that instantly came to my mind, that I knew James would have to face. I knew about the "big" things that raising a child with a disability brought. What I was never prepared for were those little simple joys a mother gets to share with her son. I wasnt prepared for the fact that if my Mom's Club friends called us for a plat date at a local playground, I would have to say no not because I didnt want to go, but because my child wouldnt be able to participate. And they would say they understood but slowly they just stopped calling us for the playdates because it made them uncomfortable to ask if James would be able to go to this playground. Or we would go and all the other mothers are sitting enjoying time chatting with each other and to allow my son to play I have to carry him to each component and hold him up becuase there isnt anything he can do independantly.

When I used to take my nephews and niece to a playground it never occured to me how wide the sidewalk was or what the flooring was like. I never wondered if they had swings for a child that couldnt hold themselves upright to swing on, I never once thought about if a wheelchair could travel the pea-gravel surface to get to a slide. And I would bet that most of you dont think about those things daily either. But I do now. I now have to plan out a playground visit because the closest ADA playground is 45 min from our home. There is a little playground just 30mins that, at least, has a tic tac tow board that James can get himself independantly to but everything else I have to help him with. I certainly dont mind doing that, but think back to the last time you took your child to a playground. Did you carry them too each peice of equipment and hold them up so that they can play, or did you sit with your friends and chat while you watched the kids play independantly. I would like that too.

I never realized that taking my son to a playground would be one of those things that would be taken away from me when they gave us his diagnosis. And I don't think that it should be, so instead of just feeling sorry for ourselves I knew I needed to change it. I feel that ALL playground should be ADA compliant, but that is a post for another day and I have to start small. SO here goes!

I learned about a group that is building a plauground in my area and I thought that getting in on the ground floor would be the best way to make sure kids like my James have a play to play as well. So I signed up to be the Special Needs chairperson. I am not sure if they always understand why I can make all the meetings since I am the only parent with a special needs child or why I am so passionate that some of the equipment that their " typically developing" kids dont play with has to be included BUT they have allowed me to make sure this playground is at least ADA compliant. And I consider that a big victory for our local town. I am very happy to say that this playground is not only beautiful but that it has components for ALL children of ALL abilities. Not just physically challenged children but children that are in the spectrum of emotional and cognitive delays as well.  And it isnt a "special needs section"!! My child, just as in life, will interact and play elbow to elbow with all the other kids. Which is not only helpful for my child but also for the typical children in teach empathy and acceptance for everyone early in life.  This first picture is the final drawing of the playground. As you can see it is LARGE and very spacious. You will see the little ADA wheelchair that shows all the component
 This is a zoomed drawing of the school aged portion of the playground. See all those lovely ADA symbols. They make me HAPPY!!

And here is the Tot Lot for the 2-5 kiddos. It was very important to me that  these had toddler swings with belts so that all kids can swing. It wasnt until I purchased one of these when James was 2 that James could ever swing.

There are many componets to the playground that are Accessable that arent officially on the Special Needs equipment list. Like the surface. We will be using ADA compliant manufactured mulch!! This is HUGE for kids that use assisted devices to help them walk or play. It means that the muclh will compact and be come a wheel friendly surface.

We are using Leathers and Assoc to build the playground. Check out the link to see other playgrounds they have built. We also have a facebook page with all the info to volunteer and get more info if you are in my area clickHERE to go there. Now here comes the part where I ask for YOUR help. I get many emails everyday from all of you awesome people asking what you can do to help James. This is something that you can do to make a lasting difference in not only James's life but also so many kids with special needs that dont have a place to play like everyone else. If everyone on James' facebook fan page just gave $1 we could purchase one of the peices on the Special Needs equipment list. With that purchase we can also have a plaque that says it was donated by friends of James.

We are a 501 charity which means that you can get a Tax donation letter as well. All you have to do is ask me for that and I can get it to you. There are 2 ways for you to donate. You can click on the PayPal donate button that is on the right side of this blog OR you can mail a check to  this address just make sure you put in the Memo line that it is for the Jump in for James donation. Make your checks out to Madison county Alabama as well.
Sharron Johnston Playground
C/O Jenny Barrett
PO Box 36
New Market, AL 35761

Our goal is $900 I want to purchase the Accessible Parallel Bars but whatever we can raise we will purchase what we can. We have already raised $150 so we are off to a great start.  Here are some of the other Special Needs components.

Tactile / Sound / Special Needs Price

Tap Tubes* $1,000

Sandbox $900

Accessible Parallel Bars* $900

Sound Wall* $700

Tic Tac Toe* $550

Phones* SOLD

Game Table* SOLD

Sand Table* SOLD

Gator Balance on Chains $350

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pictures make me happy

I did some Valentine pictures of my sweet baby boy and his little friend Jakob the other day. I thought I would share them here for those of you that arent on James facebook fan page.

 James and his best friend Jakob
 Sweet smiling face
Such a stinker
 Being silly boys