Posted by Michelle K. Wolf
It's one of those topics not discussed much away from parent support groups and the doctor's office, but lots of kids and adults with cerebral palsy (CP) drool due to low muscle tone. The younger kids wear bibs or bandanas but as kids get older, it's embrassing for them to have to keep wearing wearing either item, but until now, there haven't been a lot of good choices. Enter in an American-Israeli enterepreuneur with an 11-year-old son with CP, and you have the potential for a high-quality, good looking T-shirt made from bamboo that can easily absorb the moisture. Richard Nachum Kligman, the father of Moishy, along with five other kids in Beit Shemesh, is asking for people around the world to help support this new line of clothing, called, Mianzi though an online Kickstarter campaign that ends on Sunday, July 7th. Even the smallest contribution can help him reach the goal of $20,000.
“This is the first luxury fashion line keeping the special needs community in mind,” said Richard Nachum Kligman, founder of the special needs fashion line called Mianzi, which means “Bamboo” in Swahili and “A Face of Dignity and Prestige” in Chinese.The shirt’s material, Kligman said, is a blend of 70 percent bamboo rayon and 30 percent organic cotton.
“It’s very Eco-friendly, and the weave is a French Terry weave, which has a towel-like nature, perfect for drooling,” Kligman said. Our goal is to create a full line of products that brings comfort to everyone.
Interested individuals can visit the Kickstarter campaign page here.
UPDATED JULY 4 from the Kickstarter campaign:
"We are getting very close to passing our 3rd goal. As of this post we are only $301 away at which point we will be able to create a stunning website built on the Shopify platform.
Our factories are gearing up and the latest samples have been ordered. I should receive them within the next two weeks and so I will post photos as soon as I receive them.
Happy 4th of July to all those celebrating! I know it's a busy day for everyone so will keep this brief.
Here is an article written by Paul Allen, a well known entrepreneur and investor on why Mianzi really excites him. It is extremely well written so please take a look and share it with friends.
We only have 3 days left and it is hard to make the most of them when we are going full steam ahead into a holiday weekend, but 3 days is all we have. So please, if you can Email this link to the project with just 3 friends it would really help us get closer to reaching all our goals.
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June 28, 2013 | 7:12 pm
Posted by Michelle K. Wolf
With the landmark US Supreme Court case rulings this week to end discrimination of gay couples, we are reminded once again of the power wielded by the “equal protection of the laws” clause of 14th amendment of the US Constitution.
One group that is lacking these “equal protections” is workers with disabilities. The most recent egregious case took place in Rhode Island, where high school students and adults with developmental disabilities were “unnecessarily segregated and forced to work for little or no pay for years in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act” according to an article posted on DisabilityScoop. The US Justice Department has been investigating The Harold A. Birch Vocational program at Mount Pleasant High School in Providence, RI, which in the last 20 years, has funneled all of its students to just one vocational training agency, called Training Through Placement, whose only “placement” was in sheltered workshops where special education students ages 14-21 with developmental disabilities were paid 50 cents to $2 per hour, and in some cases nothing at all, to do tasks like bagging, labeling, collating and assembling jewelry.
Students who requested other job opportunities were refused. Sheltered workshops arose after the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in the 1930s, giving employers the right to pay workers with disabilities a wage “commensurate with their productivity.” This form of labor became known as “sheltered work,” because it claims to protect disabled individuals from the competition of the outside world by graciously allowing them to do what they can for a modest, sub-minimum wage salary. In the United States the number of sheltered workshops in the USA increased from 85 to about 3,000 between 1948 and 1976 but most recently, advocates have called for their abolishment.
As the US Justice Dept. said in its letter of investigation to the City of Providence, “When the expectations that public entities have for students with disabilities are unjustifiably low, significant consequences are often imposed upon such young people.” Instead of sheltered workshops, parents and self-advocates want the same opportunities any teenager or young adult has –internships, volunteering and jobs in the “real” market. With our son with developmental disabilities already 18 years old, I worry about what will happen with him after he turns 21 and leaves the public school system. Fortunately, his special education program at Fairfax High School has a fairly extensive community-based instruction, and he is very clear on his ultimate job goal—to be a DJ and go to a party every night. Sure sounds like equality to me.
June 21, 2013 | 6:37 pm
Posted by Michelle K. Wolf
The saying that “a picture tells a thousand words” has never been more true than with the recent online criticism of a 2nd grade class photo from British Columbia in which a student who uses a wheelchair was photographed sitting off to the side, with a visible gap dividing him from everyone else.
The photographer, who was from an outside photo studio, posed the students in three, neat rows of benches with their teacher but placed Miles Ambridge, off to the side in his wheelchair. Miles, who has spinal muscular atrophy, is seen leaning as far as he can toward the other children with a smile on his face. You can see that photo here.
When his mother saw the printed photograph, she was deeply offended.
“I couldn’t comprehend how the photographer could look through the lens and think that [the original picture] was good composition. ... [T]his just boggled the mind,” said mother Anne Belanger, per the Toronto Star.
Guess the photographer just wasn’t thinking.
After having the photo published online in The Province, a virtual tidal wave of disapproval was directed at both the photographer and the school. Both publicly apologized and the photo studio, Lifetouch Canada, took a second class photo, in which Miles is seated on the bench, alongside his classmates. You can see the much more inclusive photo here.
Which gives us all something to think about.
June 14, 2013 | 5:24 pm
Posted by Michelle K. Wolf
Do you remember that feeling when you finally graduated from the “kid’s table” to the “grown up” table? At large family gatherings, the kid’s table was invariably a smaller, more flimsy table, shoved into some corner, or at the very far end of the main table, far enough away that you couldn’t really hear what was going on at the head of the table.
During this past week of graduations, awards, ordinations and celebrations, it seems that people with disabilities are beginning to get a seat at the main table, but we still need to set more places.
Reading through the passions of the “Outstanding Graduates” in last week’s print edition of the Jewish Journal, the words “special needs” and “disabilities” were mentioned over and over again. We have witnessed this personally, as volunteers who spend even a short amount of time with our son with special needs often come away transformed from the encounter, and determined to create a more inclusive community.
At the JFS/Chaverim event on Sunday honoring Sally Weber, the Jewish adults with developmental disabilities were literally the stars of the show, showing off their singing talents with no trace of stage fright.
On Monday night, we cheered as Danny’s Hebrew/Judaica tutor, Dov Gottesfeld, was ordained as a Rabbi by the Academy for Jewish Religion (AJR), and in the program, Dov wrote of his specialization in working with special needs students.
And the capstone event was the Tierra del Sol Foundation celebratory luncheon today at Sportsmen’s Lodge under the leadership of Steve Miller, CEO, who was part of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation’s Israel Special Needs Study Mission last summer.
Tierra is committed to empowering people with disabilities to fulfill their potential and desire to be productive citizens, as we all do. They accomplish this with post-high school educational programs, vocational training, internships, volunteer opportunities and paid employment, with a San Fernando/San Gabriel Valleys geographic focus.Like anyone else, young adults with disabilities need the chance to try out different jobs, and see what they like the most.
With over 800 people in attendance, today’s event was a chance to recognize the 144 community partners who provide volunteer, employment, education and transition assistance to over 600 adults with a wide range of disabilities. These partners include JFS/SOVA and the Jewish Home for the Aging Skirball Hospice, and a number of churches but unfortunately, not one synagogue --a real shanda in my humble opinion.
So let’s help enlarge the table for all—if any Jewish-affiliated agencies, shuls, schools or non-profits in the San Fernando Valley/San Gabriel Valleys want to be part of next year’s luncheon at Tierra del Sol, call 818 352-1419.
June 6, 2013 | 11:40 pm
Posted by Michelle K. Wolf
No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher's dirty looks
I can’t really believe that tomorrow is the last day of school. Tonight, I ran out at the last minute to buy gift cards for our son’s special education teacher, 1:1 aide and a few other classroom aides at Fairfax High School. We wrote out thank you notes, added some bird stickers and placed the new Willy Wonka DVD received from my sister in Danny’s backpack, all set for the big party tomorrow. But I still don’t feel ready for school and it’s familiar rhythm to end.
This is the earliest that school has ever ended, due to a new schedule that rings in the new school year in mid-August instead of the traditional after Labor Day . I’ve crafted a schedule worthy of a presidential hopeful in New Hampshire, with three different sitters/aides, his big sister, me and my husband all taking turns until Etta Day Camp and then summer school kicks in, with second session in the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah California as the grand finale.
We’ve made a list of the top five places Danny wants to go while on vacation which include the beach, zoo, and plane museum and we all look forward to getting to sleep in a little later. But Danny has developed some very nice friendships with the other kids in his special education class, and after spending several years together, the group really feels like a big family, and he looks forward to his time there. He got sad when I told him that school was ending, and he wouldn’t see his classmates for several weeks. They do gardening together, food prep/cooking, and take community field trips by public buses to grocery stores and other public places where they will need to go as adults.
I remember counting down those last days of school, just itching for more time on my own, away from class assignments and homework. But since Danny’s main social interactions outside of the family take place at school, he’s a lot less excited about school ending. So it’s time to add some new educational apps to the Ipad, buy a whole lot of sunscreen and get in touch with my inner “oompa loompa” as we settle in for the long days ahead.