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Archive for February, 2012

I often say “wouldn’t it be great to have more hours in a day?” or “if I didn’t need so much sleep, I’d get more done every day!” Now, I know a LOT of other people don’t share my views, and that is unfortunate, in my opinion. I think this way because I love making the most of every minute of every day. Of course, it helps that I love my job, the people I work with, the people I interact with, and most of all – our Push to Walk clients.

Well, today I have a whole extra day!!! How great is that! It’s like a special gift, a day to do something special. I wished I had thought of this a little earlier in the week (or even the month; I could have planned accordingly!) Instead, I am using today to complete a few grant applications that have pending deadlines. It’s not a bad way to spend my day, but not very exciting either. But it will be productive, as I am committed to finalizing two applications today. And any day that is productive is a good day for me!

What will you do on Leap Day?? Any special plans? And to any Leap Year babies born on February 29, have a special birthday today! Enjoy!

Happy Leap Day! Cynthia

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Nutrition is an important topic for people with spinal cord injury, as it should be for everyone – with or without a disability. For myself, I try to eat healthy, only eat “bad” foods in moderation, and exercise regularly. Of course, sometimes I’m better at following my own advice than others! I have never had a serious weight problem, and have not experienced the ups and downs of gaining weight, dieting and losing weight. Perhaps if I had, then this post might be a little different.

However, my son Darren is now following The Paleo Diet. I am not a big fan of eliminating any food group entirely, so this doesn’t seem like it would be the diet I would choose, but I give him credit for trying to lose some weight, feel more healthy and get stronger to bike for 26.2 miles in the upcoming NJ Marathon. (Go Darren!)

According to one website I found, the basics of the Paleo Diet are to:

  • Eat full portions of lean meats and seafood
  • Enjoy fruits and vegetables, mushrooms, herbs and sweets like honey
  • Remove the modern grains and dairy that can be difficult to digest
  • Get rid of processed foods, alcohols, and sugars!
  • Get energy from natural, unprocessed foods – not dangerous diet pills or methods!

Except for the missing carbs, which I feel are of benefit to most people, and dairy products, which can be disruptive but still eaten in a healthy diet, this all sounds pretty good! I have come to believe that a “healthy lifestyle” represents the most important decision we can make if we want to feel and look our best. There was a report released by the American Dietetic Association in 2010 that outlined “Evidence-Based Nutrition Guidelines” for people with SCI. It is a lengthy report (72 pages) that I have not read entirely, but would be happy to send to you if you had interest. As I skimmed its contents, it seems like common sense to me, as is most of the concept of living a healthy lifestyle. I think we all know fruits and vegetables are better than chips and candy, unprocessed food better than processed. But it is up to us to make the better choices, even though we are bombarded with ads for fast food, snacks and generally unhealthy foods or habits.

By forming Team Push to Walk for the NJ Marathon on May 6, we are showing ourselves and our clients that part of a healthy lifestyle is regular exercise. We are helping our clients arrange to have hand cycles, and helping them exercise in a way that will strengthen them and give them endurance to participate in hand cycling for 13.1 or 26.2 miles. We want them to feel good about themselves while reaching a goal that will also make them proud of themselves. Eating right and exercising go hand in hand.

If you have any suggestions that have worked for you in following a more healthy lifestyle, please let us know!

Cynthia

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So you know the slogan “What happens in Vegas……….stays in Vegas,” right? Sometimes I feel like this happens at Push to Walk. What happens here…………stays here. Of course, it’s up to each individual client on what information can be distributed for public viewing, and we respect each person’s wishes. But when something SO wonderful happens, I want to shout from the rooftops! I just can’t help myself.

Check out this video that shows a client who has come to Push to Walk for several years: http://youtu.be/VvjOu9XORNo

She has a C5 injury, sustained in June 2006. I believe this accomplishment is due to her consistent workouts at Push to Walk, the dedication of her trainers in paying attention to what’s going on in her body, and the simple concept of TRYING. It’s not easy for the client or the trainers. Some people might say it’s not practical. But it’s walking! And it’s happening because she has gotten stronger, can support herself better and her muscles are firing. Our philosphy is to stimulate the nervous system and see what happens. Progress may be slow, even non-existent at times, but we all keep working at it.

How wonderful to watch! It’s these kinds of things that make me happy to come to work every day. Wouldn’t you be, too??

Have a great weekend! Cynthia

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I don’t know the statistics, but every day a tremendous number of new videos are posted online. It is mind-boggling once you start looking at something or searching for a particular topic. There are just SO many videos!

Well, I’m hoping Push to Walk can contribute our fair share to this online phenomenon! Through a great website that helps nonprofit organizations buy things at discounted prices (www.techsoup.org), we have purchased 6 Flip cameras. Our goal is to loan these cameras to our Push to Walk staff, clients, family members, etc. who can help us record happenings in their lives that are related to spinal cord injuries. The videos can be anything related to social activities, adaptive sports, accessibility issues (good and bad), special occasions – anything that would be fun, informative and of interest to others (or just of interest to the film-maker!). There are no rules; no right or wrong activities (within reason, of course!).

We already have our own YouTube channel, (www.youtube.com/user/pushtowalknj) but we want to increase the number of videos we post. We hope you’ll want to help us with this new project! Please let us know if you’d like to contribute to this effort for Push to Walk! It should be fun!

Cynthia

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Spending time recently with my old friends the treadmill and the TV, I saw a commercial about GE that really hit home. The workers were shown doing their respective jobs, each making pieces of a jet engine. When the engine is installed in a plane and that plane is tested or used on an actual flight, the employees are on the airstrip watching the plane take off. You can see the pride in the employees’ faces as they see the result of their hard work pay off and actually being used.

These same feelings can be seen in our trainers’ faces as they work with Push to Walk clients who have spinal cord injuries and paralysis. Each workout, little pieces of progress are made, and over time, they amount to some incredible results! Sometimes those results are a person being able to sit up by themselves, bend over and pick something up from the floor, or reach for an object and not fall out of their chair. All these accomplishments are important and worthwhile, no matter how small.  Watch this video to see just another example. While the efforts on the part of the trainers are huge, the client is upright, moving his legs and walking with help. You might even say “a considerable amount of help.” But he IS walking, and that is a wonderful accomplishment. The video is the first one on the left. Happy viewing, and thanks for watching!

http://www.pushtowalknj.org/clients/clientlist.htm

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For those of you who know me, you already know I can go on and on about Push to Walk and all the good our program does for people with spinal cord injuries. After awhile it probably sounds like “blah, blah, blah!” As any good spokesman for a cause they believe in, we can tell great stories, explain what our trainers do, and what our clients accomplish. BUT, when someone sees our gym, talks to the clients and experiences a workout for him or herself, NOW believing happens! This is what it’s all about!

This was the case when I recently had the pleasure of showing our gym to Lou Pallo. Yes, the famous Lou Pallo of the Les Paul Trio. Legendary in his own right, Lou and Les played together many years and for many shows. (www.loupallo.com) Thanks to our friend Vince Genella, another VERY talented guitarist (www.vincegenella.net) who introduced us to Lou, Lou and his current trio have agreed to donate their talents for entertainment at Push to Walk’s upcoming Wine Tasting on June 14th at the Grand Chalet in Wayne, NJ. We are very grateful to both Lou and Vince for taking an interest in Push to Walk and helping us raise money so we can continue to provide specialized exercise workouts to people with spinal cord injuries.

But back to my main topic – seeing someone or something in action, with your very own eyes, is SO powerful! It makes all the difference in the world! You can then understand, or ask questions, give feedback, etc. There is no substitute for seeing and feeling something for yourself. So come and SEE Push to Walk for yourself! We love to have visitors and show off our gym, our trainers, even our clients! Once you see it, you’ll understand why we are so passionate about what we do!

Cynthia

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Happy Monday! I hope you all had a good weekend!

A Push to Walk client passed along a newspaper story about a man and his company who renovate upscale Manhattan homes, and now he has added accessible and universal design to the services he provides. This would seem a natural area for Martin Watters to focus on – he uses a wheelchair himself. The company is called ADA Lifestyles of New York. Check them out! (http://www.wattersconstruction.com)

This article reminds me of how many people and families affected by spinal cord injury, paralysis and an array of other disabilities have “normal” homes that become nearly impossible to navigate once a wheelchair is needed. Our own home, a ranch up until a year before Darren’s injury, but now with two stories and lots of steps, had to be changed quite a bit to accomodate Darren’s wheelchair. Outside of providing primary care to a newly injured family member, this is one of the most important, expensive and stressful areas that need to be dealt with.

Our own town of Kinnelon, New Jersey was extremely helpful in getting the renovation project moved along very quickly. The Mayor and Council, our architect, builder and sub-contractors all pulled together to get our project started and completed in record time. But I know many others who are not as fortunate. It is often the cost of such projects that is prohibitive (especially on top of all the other costs if it’s a sudden spinal cord injury), the lack of resources to aid in the design, the workers to do the job. When I hear of people waiting weeks and months just to get a ramp so they can get in and out of their houses safely and easily, it breaks my heart.

In this newspaper article from The Journal News (www.lohud.com), it references how Rockland County, NY has adopted a law with design standards for accessibility and recommends a speedier process for town permit applications for modifications. Sounds like some good progress, and perhaps other counties will follow their lead. I certainly hope so!

I know of a local agency in New Jersey, DAWN (www.dawncil.org) who received funds from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to help people offset costs of certain home modifications in certain counties of New Jersey. I hope there are other resources out there, too, that can help. If you know of any, please pass them along and I’ll be sure to include them in a future post and on our website in the links section (www.pushtowalknj.org).

For now, let’s all think about how we can help make our homes more accessible to visitors in wheelchairs and the little things we can do to help people feel welcome. And if there’s any way we can assist others to find the resources they need to make their own homes more accessible and functional, let’s put our heads together and help! This is an area where people working together can truly make a difference to someone with a disability of any kind.

Cynthia

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