Thursday, May 24, 2007

Easter Seals

I have the lucky fortune of serving on the Board of Directors for Easter Seals Colorado. Have you heard about it? What an amazing organization! Like many gems, Easter Seals may not be well known among many. Until someone dear might need their services, that is. Easter Seals provides services to children and adults with disabilities and other special needs, and support to their families. I am impressed with the quality and commitment of the staff and many volunteers.
It is my pleasure this week to introduce Lynn Robinson, President/CEO of Easter Seals, as our guest blogger this week. Lynn brings passion and pure joy to her role. Her accomplishments are huge and her heart is just as big. She writes in today’s blog about the stroke program. May is stroke awareness month.

There are multiple other programs as well. For example, H.E.A.R.S. which provides hearing aids to adults at no, low, or affordable cost to those who could not otherwise afford them. Or, Colorado AgrAbility is a partnership between Colorado State University Cooperative Extension and Easter Seals Colorado with a goal to maximize independence of farmers, ranchers, and their families who are facing new obstacles due to injury, illness, or disability by providing services, information, and education. All of Colorado AgrAbility services are free to individuals. And, of course, one of their most popular and wonderful services is Rocky Mountain Village, the Easter Seals Camp that provides summer camp experiences to kids with disabilities.

Our Board meets at camp for one our quarterly meetings every year. Seeing the kids, meeting the counselors, watching the difference the experience makes make me so proud to be part of an organization that works this hard to give over 800 children a summer the chance to play in ways they often cannot because of the nature of their disabilities. They get to swim, ride horses, rock climb, fish, learn arts and crafts, all with the help of camp counselors from all over Colorado and elsewhere and a facility that combines clever solutions with state-of-the-art equipment. There is no doubt that camp is one of Easter Seals very special contributions to the community.

As President of Easter Seals Colorado, I find so many rewards every day. We serve over 6,000 Colorado residents every year, providing services to help them address the challenges they face, whether from permanent or temporary illnesses and injuries, or from health concerns they have had from birth. I am so proud of all that we do, and of the incredible staff and volunteers who work with us.

One of very successful programs is our Stroke Day Program. Easter Seals Colorado’s Stroke Day Program is the only day program in Colorado focusing solely on the needs of stroke survivors. Our Day Program empowers our participants to take a proactive role in their health and independence assisting them in their goals to remain living independently, improve their daily living skills as well as build a social network with other survivors who truly relate to the challenges each survivor faces. For many, this program enables our participants to remain in their own home.

The Stroke Day Program provides a full day of cost-effective rehabilitation and fitness. The fee for the program is $70/day providing Physical, Occupational, Warm Water, and Speech/Language Therapies, and case management in one setting so that survivors and their caregivers do not travel to multiple sites throughout the week to get necessary treatments.

Easter Seals Colorado’s Stroke Day Program also recognizes the impact of stroke on a survivor’s family providing vital respite and support to caregivers. Additionally, the Program provides training, education and counseling for caregivers.

The best person to tell you how important the stroke program is one of our program participants. This is Garland’s Story:

My name is Garland and I am 65 years old. I had my stroke in 1995 and was paralyzed on my left side. I was unable to do any of my basic self care tasks or walk after my stroke. My life had drastically changed as I knew it. I was in the hospital for about a week and then rehabilitation for about five weeks. I was discharged home, and I was still unable to walk and needing assistance with my self care tasks. My wife, Joanne helped me with everything. I then received therapy services in my home. I began to walk with a hemi walker and eventually regained some of my independence. After therapy services are done there are not many other services for survivors like me to take advantage of. My wife and I became involved with Rocky Mountain Stroke Association in 1996. We became volunteers to assist other stroke survivors and started attending physical therapy classes. I also started using Easter Seals Colorado warm water therapy pool for an hour each week. I would continued to spend most of my time at home alone and without productive activities. When I heard that Easter Seals Colorado was opening a stroke specific day program in 2003 I decided to look into it. My wife and the stroke program director started talking about the program and I immediately thought this is worthless. I’ve had all the therapy I could get and what good is anymore activity going to do? I was also hesitant to attend the program because I had to take Access-A-Ride. Well needless to say I tried the program and have not looked back because I love it. I come to the day program one day a week. It has given me more motivation to start doing things I used to do, like use the computer. I have developed relationships with the other survivors and the staff of Easter Seals Colorado. I’m treated like a normal person and allowed to be who I am. I have learned so much and I feel better about myself. I’m walking more and standing up taller thanks to the therapy I receive at the day program. My wife Joanne also enjoys the program; it has been a godsend to her. She was frustrated that after years dealing with my stroke I seemed to be losing ground. Attending the program has given me a special day out and given Joanne time to herself. I am so thankful that there is a program out there to help stroke survivors get back into the community and regain their independence.

Please be sure to check out all the other programs Easter Seals offers at their website (EasterSealsColorado.org). Many thanks to Lynn Robinson for blogging with us at Capabilities.

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