A place to show my love for my granddaughter who lives with Cerebral Palsy and my passion for painting. In an effort of raising awareness for C.P. every painting brush stroke I make on raw canvas is a stroke of love, as I discretely paint a green C.P. awareness ribbon in every piece. Can you find them?
Do you know someone who would like to have a painting done? email www.harrold.janet@gmail.com

Friday, September 30, 2011

Awareness, it really makes all the difference in a persons life.

Nobody likes to be talked down to or treated like they are invisible, but it happens everyday
to people who have disabilities or use wheelchairs to get around. It is not typically done on purpose, but is often because of the lack of knowledge or lack of interaction with someone who has a disability. More often than not when you first meet a person who has an obvious disability, maybe they are in a wheelchair, or maybe they are blind or have vision impairments. You become a bit uncomfortable, you are not sure what to say. Sometimes pity, fear of the unknown, general awkwardness and a lack of understanding makes you shy away from being cordial.
One of the ways to get past the social awkwardness is to know how to act or what to do in an unfamiliar situation, so educating yourself and others about disability is very important. I think it should be started at a very young age. I wholeheartedly believe in inclusion.
Inclusion is part of a much larger picture than just placement in the regular class within school. It is being included in life and by using one’s abilities in day to day activities as a member of the community. Inclusion is being a part of what everyone else is, being welcomed and embraced as a member who belongs. Inclusion can occur in schools, churches, playgrounds, work and in recreation. It is my hope to see people like my beautiful granddaughter who lives with Cerebral Palsy be more accepted and understood by society. I think I speak for most people who are touched by someone with a disability, when we see things in stores, such as Barbie in a wheelchair, or the occasional book that explains to children that being a little different is o.k. that they are people who are accepted by others and they are people just like you, who have feelings just like you, and they have a purpose in life, just like you do. That is why I decided to design a couple of Christmas cards that show children enjoying themselves at Christmas time, opening gifts and helping to decorate the Christmas tree. It is my way of raising awareness and acceptance. If I can get these cards out for Christmas, people will send them across the miles to their family and loved ones embracing and accepting disabilities and soon, we will be spreading awareness all around the world!

(Inside Text..."Hope Your Holidays Are Special"

If you are interested in these cards, please contact harrold.janet@gmail.com
Orders are being taken through October, cards printed on November 1st and in your home by Thanksgiving.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Dance for Hailey

Recently a good friend of Natalie’s opened a dance studio Impact Dance Company Boston
Meghan and Natalie have been best friends for years. Ever since Hailey was born Meghan wanted to choreograph a dance and dedicate it to Hailey.
In June, Meghan had applied for a residency program, unfortunately she was denied. I thought I would post her good intentions anyway. As a way of thanking Meghan for her efforts and hoping that someone who reads this may be able to support such a beautiful effort.
IMPACT Dance company is a contemporary based dance company that strives for captivating audiences through emotion. The sole purpose of IMPACT is to initiate a change by bringing dance to the forefront and raising awareness. We want to raise awareness by magnifying what is not stereotypically accepted or touched upon as frequently as it should be. IMPACT Dance company wants to make a difference in our society by utilizing our art as a statement to educate and inspire.
What is your overall mission or dance philosophy?

Impact Dance company wants to truly make a difference by utilizing dance in every possible way we can. A few ideas the company has is to host motivational seminars and dance classes for elementary, middle and high school students, put on benefit performances, support local charities, and create pieces dedicated or inspired by certain topics, causes or diseases.
How would this program affect your company? What would this residency mean to you?
This program would give the company the opportunity to truly experience a life changing event personally, mentally and physically. This residency will give us the opportunity to fully commit and focus on the creation of a new piece. Personally this residency means I will finally have the freedom to create a piece that I have been wanting to create for the past five years. This piece is very personal and I did not want to commit to it unless I knew I could focus on it whole heartily and could train my dancers mentally and emotionally for the subject.
This piece has been a dream of mine since the birth of one of my closest friend’s daughter, Hailey. Due to complications at birth, Hailey was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. There are many emotions surrounding this topic from the outside point of view, but I want to travel deeper and showcase the story of Hailey, her family, and her parents. I want to live the emotional roller coaster their journey has brought them to, celebrate their triumphs, their failures, and their happiness all through what I know best, dance. Their story is truly inspirational and it needs to be told.
How long of a Residency would you need and why?
We would need four weeks to accomplish the tasks I am setting up with this piece. For the first couple of rehearsals I would invite Hailey and her family to come interact with the dancers. First, I would ask the parents to prepare what they would want to share about their journey. Explaining their day to day life, hospital visits, school trips and activities they do as a family. Secondly I would arrange an informative meeting where the dancers can ask in depth questions regarding emotions so they can find a way to connect while they begin movement with the piece. Lastly I want to have the opportunity to watch Hailey. By teaching her dance moves, and observing her and her mechanisms we would be using the way she crawls, sits, smiles, laughs, and plays to inspire movement we would incorporate into the piece.
How would you utilize the studio space?
The studio space sole purpose would be to create and establish the choreography inspired by Hailey. The first week will be dedicated to the process of meeting the family. The second week of rehearsal we will incorporate movement from Hailey, finding a medium between what our bodies can accomplish while showcasing what we learned or were inspired by. The last two weeks would be used to finalize choreography and finish the piece.
Do you have access to discounted rehearsal space elsewhere?
Currently we do have access to discounted rehearsal space. However the only setback is that the space is very small. I would be willing to utilize the space to save money, but I know myself and my dancers would love to be able to use a bigger space for the last week of the residency.
How do you plan to participate in the Community event? How does this connect with your company mission or experience?
For the community event Impact would like to host a movement workshop for children with Cerebral Palsy and other forms of debilitating sicknesses followed by a performance of the piece created with the residency. The community event would convey
Impact Dance company’s mission statement perfectly. This would give us an opportunity to reach out and connect to the Cerebral Palsy community, raise awareness about Cerebral Palsy and perform with the intent to inspire and show support to the families of not just Cerebral Palsy children but also the families that have children with other debilitating sicknesses such as Multiple Sclerosis and cancer.
Meghan thank you from the bottom of my heart for being passionate about Hailey’s Dance. Good luck with your dance company and to all of your future endeavers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Artwork/ Aunt Sadies Candles/ The Jimmy Fund

You have heard me say previously that one of my paintings had been chosen to be on the outside of an Aunt Sadies candle this Holiday Season. Well they are finally available for $20.00 plus shipping at The Jimmy Fund Store 100% of the proceeds go to raising money for patient care and cancer research. It was my honor to donate this image to such a good cause. It gives me pleasure in knowing that I can help out, even if it is in the smallest way. I have a very close friend who is currently battling cancer, it is an extremely difficult time in her life and the lives of her family, as they battle alongside with her, feeling helpless, but never, ever giving up hope that she will beat this awful disease. She is a very strong and determined woman with a heart of gold.There is not a question in my mind, I know she will beat it and as Christopher Reeve's said "Once you chose hope, anything is possible"

I wish this was a "scratch and sniff" then you could tell that scent of my candle is a brilliant and fitting Cranberry-Orange! I can just smell it now.

I've also been told that they will be carrying them in The Paper Store, but i'm not sure when.

Some Facts from the Jimmy Fund's Website:
Beating Cancer
Cancer doesn't discriminate. It can strike anyone and it affects us all. Man. Woman. Child. People aged 8 days to 80 years. Every day, 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease. But with your help, the Jimmy Fund is beating cancer.
How Your Support Helps
When you purchase holiday cards, e-packs, candles, and ornaments from Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund, you supply critical funds that enable the work of the brightest minds in science and the most talented clinicians to care for patients confronting cancer.
Your financial contributions have helped Dana-Farber rank as the number one cancer hospital in New England by U.S.News & World Report for 11 straight years. In 2010, Dana-Farber logged 142,169 adult and pediatric patient visits and infusions. Dana-Farber also offered 689 clinical trials that opened doors to new treatments for adult and pediatric patients.
Thanks to your support, Dana-Farber continues to make strides in the fight against cancer. In 2010, we:
Reached a milestone in cancer treatment with the FDA approval of Provenge®, a prostate cancer vaccine clinically tested at Dana-Farber and the first clinically proven therapeutic cancer vaccine
Opened the new Yawkey Center for Cancer Care, which will enable Dana-Farber to provide its trademark compassionate care to an increasing volume of patients and will connect our research and clinical programs more seamlessly than ever before
Expanded our efforts to make Dana-Farber's world-class patient care more accessible to patients living outside of Boston by partnering with South Shore Hospital, bringing our services closer to the 725,000 residents of southeastern Massachusetts
Received a 4-star rating—the highest ranking—from Charity Navigator, America's largest independent evaluator of non-profit organizations, for the ninth consecutive year for our ongoing commitment to maintaining a low cost-of-funds raised and being fiscally prudent
Every dollar raised through Holiday Greetings contributes to the financial resources necessary to accelerate Dana-Farber's pace of discovery, speed the application of scientific knowledge to help save lives, and expand the Institute's ability to provide its signature 50-50 balance between research and patient care.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"A Better Person"

A Better Person

If you close your eyes you'll never see,
just how much she means to me.

All I ask from this day on, is to stand beside her and cheer her on.

She'll bring you places that you've never been,
and show you love from deep within.

She'll melt your heart a little more each day,
until it seems her disability has faded away.

But it's still there, i'll tell no lies.
It sometimes appears, to be in disguise.

You no longer see through rose colored glasses.
As this vision you once had, slowly passes.

The child you once thought of as frail and weak,
instead has made you implore defeat.

Her health sometimes may seem uncertain.
Yet through it all, she has made you a better person.

© Copyright 2011 by Janet Harrold

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hailey's first Hippotherapy session!

So today was Hailey’s first hippotherapy lesson! We had been slightly anxious about how she was going to react. If Hailey doesn’t like something or doesn’t want to do it, her scream can be quite piercing. We really wanted her first lesson to be a good experience. We had our first visit to the stables earlier this spring, Hailey seemed to love the horses, but of course seeing them and riding them are two totally different experiences. Natalie had also been preparing her all week by showing her videos and pictures of children riding horses. I think the combination of the two really helped because Hailey did awesome!

A lot of my family and friends still don’t quite understand what hippotherapy is, so I took this off of The Bridge Centers web site. I hope it helps.
After you learn more about hippotherapy, head on over to read the article I wrote for Windrush Farm about how horses help with other disabilities as well.

About Hippotherapy
What is hippotherapy?
Hippotherapy is a physical, occupational and speech therapy treatment strategy that utilizes equine movement. The word “hippotherapy” literally means “treatment with the help of the horse” from the Greek word “hippos” meaning horse. Specially trained physical and occupational therapists use this treatment for individuals with movement dysfunction as part of an integrated treatment program to achieve functional outcomes.
In a controlled hippotherapy environment, the horse influences the rider rather than the rider controlling the horse. The rider is positioned on the horse and actively responds to his movement. The therapist directs the movement of the horse, analyzes the rider’s responses, and adjusts the treatment and horse’s movement accordingly. Specific riding skills are not taught (as in other therapeutic horseback riding programs), but rather a foundation is established to improve neurological function and sensory processing. This foundation can be generalized to a wide range of daily activities.
The unique nature of hippotherapy allows the rider to engage in activities on the horse that are enjoyable and challenging.
Why the horse?
A horse's walk and gait provides movement (or “sensory input”) that is variable, rhythmic, and repetitive. The resulting responses from the rider are similar to human movement patterns of the pelvis while walking. The therapist can observe and grade the degree of sensory input to the rider, and then utilize this movement in combination with other treatment strategies to achieve desired results. Riders respond enthusiastically to this enjoyable experience in a natural setting.
What are the benefits of hippotherapy?
Impairments that may be modified with hippotherapy include:
• Abnormal tone
• Impaired balance responses
• Impaired coordination
• Impaired communication
• Impaired sensorimotor function
• Postural asymmetry
• Poor postural control
• Decreased mobility
• Limbic system function related to arousal, motivation, and attention
Functional limitations that may be improved with hippotherapy:
• Gross motor skills such as sitting, standing, walking
• Speech and language abilities
• Behavioral and cognitive abilities
Who performs hippotherapy?
Therapists who perform hippotherapy are actually physical, occupational or speech therapists. Hippotherapy is the treatment strategy used by these skilled practitioners to achieve functional outcomes.
Does the therapist work alone with the rider?
Therapists performing hippotherapy normally work with a horse handler. This individual is charge of the handling of the horse during the treatment session. The handler has received extra training in handling horses specifically for hippotherapy.
How is a hippotherapy session different from Therapeutic Riding?
Therapeutic Riding is a general overall term that has been used for many years to encompass the variety of equine activities in which people with disabilities participate. When a therapist specifically utilizes the movement of the horse as a treatment strategy to improve neuromuscular function it is referred to as "hippotherapy

Friday, September 2, 2011

"What I would tell you"

I read this post on kidz The site that I write for regularly, it is a collaboration of Mother's and their beautiful children who have special needs. This is a long article, but it rings true almost word for word for so many families. I just had to re-post.
If you are a member of the special needs community-you won't be able to stop reading...if you are not a member of our community-you probably won't finish this article...shame on you for not wanting to face what other's go through each and everyday.

What I Would Tell You
by Julie Keon

I sensed someone watching me as I comforted my daughter after a particularly traumatizing dentist appointment at the Children’s Hospital. I looked up and saw you staring at us from across the waiting lounge. I didn’t pay much attention, as I have grown accustomed to the curious eyes of onlookers. Our daughter was born 7 ½ years ago and after an abrupt lack of oxygen at birth, she changed the course of our lives forever. Perhaps, our lives unfolded exactly as they were meant to — they just didn’t unfold in the way we had imagined or planned.

I talked to my daughter, kissed her and hugged her. I was giving her a brief break before putting her through the next traumatic experience of the day ~ the car ride home. Having cerebral palsy is the least of her worries but this condition can turn a car seat into a torture chamber.

I stood up to gather our things, my daughter in my arms, and it was then that I noticed you were holding an infant. It was difficult to know for certain how old she was. I knew immediately, though, that you were one of us. I knew that only recently your life had changed drastically and you sat here in this Children’s Hospital wondering, “How did we get here?” I should have recognized that shocked stare because I once had it, too. And I assume that the man sitting next to you, looking equally tired and shocked, was your husband.

I made my way toward the doors and as I passed you, our eyes met and I smiled at you. You smiled back and for a moment I knew that you knew that I understood.

If I could, I would tell you although you might not believe it right now, you will be okay. I would tell you to dig deep within yourself because you will find the strength and resilience somehow and it will surprise you. I would tell you to honor your feelings and let the tears flow when they need to. You will need the energy for more important things than holding in emotions.

I would tell you that the man sitting next to you might cope differently and he might even want to run the other way. But I would tell you to hang on because he is scared and he really doesn’t want to leave you. I would tell you to look after yourself so that you can care for your daughter. Don’t underestimate the power of good nutrition, exercise, sleep, supplements and an empathetic therapist.

I would tell you that grief will come and it will confuse you because how can something that brings such joy also bring such sadness? I would tell you to let people into your lives to help you. Our children really do require a village to raise them. Access all of the services and resources available. Find someone who can learn how to care for your child so that you can have breaks and so you and your partner can go on dates… even little ones like a twenty minute stroll outside holding hands, sharing wine on the deck or even catching a movie.

I would tell you that you know your child best of all and no matter what you are told by the doctors and other professionals who will be a part of your life, YOU know the answers. You will teach them about your child. At times you will question the validity of your intuition but after a while you will become profoundly aware of how accurate your gut feelings are when it comes to your child.

I would tell you not to be a martyr. Caring for your child will require tremendous focus and unimaginable energy and it can burn you out and make you sick when you least expect it. I would tell you to let your guard down along the way so that you can stay healthy in your mind and spirit.

I would tell you to seek out other mothers like yourself. This is, indeed, the road less traveled and you will feel very alone along the way especially in the company of healthy children and their parents. Yes, you will feel very isolated but know that we are here. Sometimes you have to look a little harder but we are here. You can find us online, in support groups and wandering the halls of the Children’s Hospital.

I would tell you that you will know far too much about the human anatomy, neurology, gastro-enterology, feeding tubes, pharmaceuticals, and so on, than a mother should ever have to know. I would also tell you to do some research to inform yourself but be very careful not to be overwhelmed by the internet and all of the information available to you. Having some trust in what your child’s specialists tell you can be very grounding. Other mothers and fathers of children like ours can be a wealth of information.

I would tell you that this isn’t an easy life. It is tough: there is no doubt about it but you are very capable and the rewards are great. You may never see your child graduate from university, walk down the aisle or give birth to your grandchildren but you will feel pure joy when your child laughs for the first time at the age of 3 years and 8 months. You will celebrate the moment when you connect with your non-verbal child. You will call your spouse at work to tell him that she has gained 4oz. because weight gain is always a struggle with our children.

I would tell you that you will have to witness procedures and surgeries and suffering well beyond what any parent should ever have to bear. But, I would tell you that you will be courageous and comforting because your child will be experiencing far more suffering than any child should ever have to endure.

I would tell you that your life will not resemble the life you had planned. It will be as though you landed in Holland instead of Italy but after some time, you will adjust the dreams you had and this reality will be normal to you. You will dream new dreams.

I would tell you that you might find yourself staring death in the face during close calls. You will be asked to fill out DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) forms and although you might make decisions to not resuscitate in the event of a cardiac arrest, when the moment arises, you will panic to think that it could all come to an end. And I would tell you to not feel guilty in the darkest moments when you pray to God to take your child if it would mean the suffering would end. This might horrify you but know that your love for your child is so great that at times you will believe that death would be a blessing.

I would tell you that others will not get it. They can’t. This is a very unique and complex journey on all levels. We cannot expect anyone to get it. And I would tell you that people — the cashier at the grocery store or your insurance broker or even your hair stylist — will say stupid things like, “God only gives these special kids to special mothers” and “God will only give you what you can handle.” You will nod and smile but eventually you will look them right in the face and tell them that those simple maxims are a bunch of bullshit.

I would tell you that imagining your future will be bittersweet and may involve a Plan A and a Plan B. Plan A will be what you will do if your child outlives the predicted life expectancy set forth by the experts and Plan B will come into play if they do not. You will catch yourself casually discussing your future with the code phrases of Plan A and Plan B.

I would tell you that grief will creep up on you after years have passed and you least expect it like at a wedding when the father and bride have their first dance or when you hear a birth announcement. It will also creep up on you when you see yourself in a new mother who is just beginning this journey.

I would tell you that you will recognize her because she is you from 7 ½ years ago. And you will want to run to her and hug her and tell her that everything will be okay. You will want to save her from the pain and the hardship and the unknown.

But I would tell you that when you find yourself sitting at the Children’s Hospital and you see a new mom and dad who are just starting this journey, you smile at them and walk by as they have their own path to travel and it will be different than yours. It may be longer or shorter. It may be more or less complicated.

I would tell you that her searching eyes are looking for some sign that she will survive this. And you, smiling as you pass, with your child arching all over your shoulder, will let her know that yes, she will survive this and may even thrive.

© Copyright 2011 by Julie A. Keon. All rights reserved.