CReATE re-launches with new focus, larger selection

September 30, 2013 by Sue Reeves

By Storee Powell, UATP

Image of Larry O'Sullivan

Larry O’Sullivan

Larry O’Sullivan spent 30 years as a professional photographer in Australia, shooting everything from weddings to aerial pictures, but was forced to leave the Down Under after late complications from a Vietnam War injury led to an above-the-knee double amputation a few years ago.

“I’d passed my ‘use by’ date in Australia, but aging and retirement is not synonymous with not having something to do,” O’Sullivan said. “America is the land of potential and accessibility – you can be anything you want to be.”

CReATE, Citizens Reutilizing Assistive Technology Equipment, is a non-profit that helps Utahns with disabilities be more independent by providing low-cost mobility equipment. Wheelchairs and scooters are donated from the community, and cleaned and refurbished to manufacturer standards by a technician. O’Sullivan read about CReATE in the newspaper and knew it was his answer to finding a power chair, or as he calls the assistive technology devices, ‘fast speed chairs.’ The devices are hard to come by in Australia, he said.

“Here, I can go cross-country and only carry an emergency kit on my chair. The chair I got from CReATE has given me independence,” O’Sullivan said.

Mobility is essential to a good quality life and independence, but as baby boomers age and medical insurance does not always meet a consumer’s needs, the demand for affordable mobility equipment increases.

Devices from CReATE generally cost less than $500, and the program doesn’t require proof of disability or insurance. All Utahans are welcome to utilize the program, which began as a concept more than 15 years ago.

Program coordinator Alma Burgess, said, “We knew this need existed after working with the public through the Utah Assistive Technology Program at the Center for Persons with Disabilities.”

The program officially began in 2007 as a certified 501c (3), and is housed at the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation in the Judy Ann Buffmire building.

CReATE has undergone logistical changes, and will re-open to the public October 1st with an emphasis on quick service and a good selection of mobility devices.

“We’ve learned a lot the first few years of CReATE’s existence,” Burgess said. “We are streamlining the process, working closely with other non-profits and state agencies, and trying to get the word out.”

The re-opening event will kick-off at 2 p.m. with a presentation to raise awareness about the program. O’Sullivan and other previous device recipients will talk about receiving their wheelchairs and how they are now using them. Devices will be showcased, and CReATE staff will highlight the process of receiving or donating a chair and the future goals of the program.

Following the presentation will be an open house with CReATE partner UCAT (Utah Center for Assistive Technology) to promote the assistive technology services available to Utahns.

O’Sullivan said, “I am not good at being housebound, and now I can make my own ends meet here,” he said. “My father said life is a magnificent adventure, and I want to be here as long as there are adventures to live for.”

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Congratulations to the 2013 CPD Volunteers of the Year!

September 27, 2013 by Sue Reeves

Image of volunteers of the year

Emily Larson and Erica Lundahl

Two parents who have taken over the management of TOP Sports, which provides fully inclusive activities such as baseball and T-ball, basketball, soccer, bowling, swimming and art classes for children and youth with disabilities in Cache County, have been named 2013 Volunteers of the Year by Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities.

Emily Larson and Erica Lundahl received the award at a recent TOP Sports t-ball practice at Forrester Acres in Smithfield.

“Emily and Erica make a difference, and they deserve special recognition for what they’ve done,” said Bryce Fifield, CPD director during the presentation.

TOP Sports began about seven years ago, when the Utah Developmental Disabilities Council offered a grant to establish inclusive recreation and sports activities for children with disabilities. According to Sue Olsen, director of exemplary services at the CPD, TOP Sports was formed with the goal of working with Logan Parks & Recreation to create inclusion in their existing activities. Since then, the program has expanded to include the Smithfield Recreation Center.

Fifield said that when nominations opened for the award, “it took Sue Olsen about three seconds to nominate Emily and Erica. They have made TOP Sports available for families in this area.”

“A huge amount of energy is spent on therapy and appointments when you have a child with a disability,” Fifield continued. “Families lose the chance to be social and have community involvement.”

Larson and Lundahl, who both have children who participate in TOP Sports, agreed that their motive might be called selfish.

“We did it for our own kids,” Lundal said with a laugh.

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Researcher begins two-year infant massage study

September 25, 2013 by Sue Reeves

Image of dad and baby

A new study will help military dads connect with their babies through infant massage.

After a two-and-a-half-year process of paperwork and patience, Vonda Jump, senior researcher at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, will soon begin a two-year research project funded by the Department of Defense. The project is titled, “Training Military Staff to Promote Servicemember Well-being Through Infant Massage.”

The study will take place on five military installations, still to be determined by the Department of Defense. The first part of the study will teach military parenting support staff how to teach infant massage to parents. After the support staff is trained, the research portion of the project will begin.

The project will enroll 60 dads and their babies at each site. Half will be taught how to do infant massage, and the other half will go through ‘daddy boot camp,’ an activity where dad and baby learn exercises to promote physical contact between them. Five to six dads will attend each class. Moms will be welcome to attend, Jump said, but won’t be allowed to take over the activities.

“We’ll be looking at the differences between how the two groups interact with their babies,” Jump said. “The hypothesis is that infant massage will help promote communication with their babies.”

Jump also said there are a lot of dads coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan who have seen terrible things, so they keep their babies and their wives at arm’s length.

“They don’t want to ‘contaminate’ them,” Jump said. “We’re hoping with massage, dads will begin to connect with the babies.”

She said there is some concern that the experience could bring negative things to the surface for the dads, and researchers will pay close attention to that.

The dad-baby pairs will be recorded on video and assessed before and after the infant massage training or daddy boot camp, and then again when infants are  12 months old to determine attachment security.

According to Jump, past studies involving infant massage have found that massage is more effective than rocking to get babies to sleep, in promoting attachment security, and in improving symptoms of depression.  Jump anticipates that dads will learn that fathers in both groups will find the experience enjoyable and will improve their interactions with their infants.

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CAC Corner: My biggest handicap

September 23, 2013 by Sue Reeves

By Matthew Bone:

Perhaps my biggest handicap is a speech problem.

I am not a person who has a disability the Government would recognize. I don’t think anyone would look at me and say I was disabled, but as time has passed I have realized I have a problem which is as great as those suffered by the people I know with disabilities. 

What is my problem?

Very simply put I have a tendency to judge based upon what I have seen, heard, or assumed.  I tend to jump very quickly to a conclusion.  In my job, I do a great deal of troubleshooting and the ability to quickly spot a problem is something I have worked very hard at for a very long time. I like to think I am good at it. 

The problem is when I am dealing with people, I need to set that skill aside and take time to get to know people. It may not sound like a big problem, but it is.  When you are quick to classify people based upon an observation, you limit yourself in what you can learn about that person.

As an example, if I see a person who has problems speaking clearly, do I decide he is mentally incapable in some way? If so, I may have missed the opportunity to have some delightful conversations with a person with a wonderful intellect. Instead, I need to accept that this person may not be able to speak clearly and not make any other judgments based upon that one fact.

As I get to know people, I find many of us have things that we have difficulty with. Some people have issues that are more easily seen than others do. Yet if you get to know them, you find they have many wonderful things to offer. And often those who have no outward appearances of having major issues can often have the most difficult issues to overcome.

I for one know I am trying to take my time and not rush to classify people, but instead to get to know them and find the things about them which are nice to know. Perhaps by doing this, I can overcome my greatest handicap.

Best of the blog … and more

September 13, 2013 by Sue Reeves

Image of conference participant on rock-climbing wall

Staff members assist a youth conference participant on the rock-climbing wall.

Your blog writer will be back on September 23 with new material about the happenings at the CPD. Until then, why don’t you revisit these recent blog posts and featured stories from the web site?

Find out how service-learning experiences changed the career trajectories of two students.

Read about the ASSERT preschool for children on the autism spectrum, and its 10 years of success.

Learn why a leadership conference for youth with disabilities was deemed a ninja success.

Read about former CPD public relations specialist JoLynne Lyon’s book deal.

Find out why a group of Fulbright Scholars from Iraq visited the CPD.