This week’s B.A.M. Art Lab project is a gift that keeps on giving! Come & paint some rocks with us. Once your painted rock dries, you can keep your rock or hide it somewhere in Oregon City and post a picture to the OC Rocks Facebook page. The group organizes an ongoing city-wide scavenger hunt for artists and sleuths of all ages & abilities.
We provide the LEGOs, you provide the imagination!
Come and join us for an afternoon of LEGOs with friends. Our new, once a month B.A.M. LEGO Lab, provides space where everyone can use their imaginations and building skills to create awesome LEGO structures!
By Carol Bunten
Raising 2 children who experience disability has its challenges. Swim lessons were a particularly Sisyphean task for us. We spent weekend mornings watching my children roll their boulders of fear up the mountain, only to have them roll back down again, year after year, with little progress and an ever-changing cast of befuddled instructors.
Because 71% of the Earth is covered with water, however, quitting wasn’t an option. In my heart, I believe that my kids can do anything with enough encouragement. So we signed them up for a triathlon, even though swimming features prominently and had been a source of anxiety and frustration for years.
The FACT website suggested that there would be a “wide range of options for supporting athletes as they complete the course,” including flotation devices, different types of bikes, and competing on a team with family and friends. I figured that with a lot of options we would find some way to get my kids 50 meters across the pool, hopefully without tantrums. Then, somehow, on a bike and then jogging. No problem! What could go wrong? Little did I know how much could go right!
I spent the first Tri for Youth on the bike course, first aid kit in hand in case any mishaps arose, while my husband supported my son and daughter. Despite my emergency preparedness, I was unprepared for the overwhelming sense of pride I felt watching the athletes and the battalion of volunteers cheering them on. My heart exploded, and tears poured from my eyes for three hours, witnessing successes of the athletes, all morning long. Somewhere in the middle of it all, my slightly damp 7 year old son raced by, alone on his bike, all smiles. He was so delighted by his accomplishments , and the freedom to speed ahead amidst all of the supporters, that he tried to joyfully tell me all about it as he whizzed by and promptly hit a curb, falling and scraping his knee.
He was still so proud of himself that he gamely got up, dusted himself off, got some first aid, and pushed through. He couldn’t wait to get to the finish line. So many previous obstacles had been met with frustration (and intolerance of his frustration). This time, magically, he just keep going without a fuss — even though he needed a pretty big bandaid. My tears doubled. Fortunately the first aid kit spent the rest of the day neatly tucked at my side, minus a few Kleenexes.
At the end of that first All Ability Tri4Youth, my whole family felt like we had accomplished something major. We all felt a new sense of confidence. The kids tried something that felt impossible, and found it to be possible, with the right support. They built on this success, and were motivated to get themselves across the pool in the next triathlon just with the power of their own bodies (and maybe one kickboard and a noodle, just in case, but GREAT PROGRESS WAS MADE!)
These past 2 triathlons will be something I remember for the rest of my life. I know that these experiences have provided a sense of accomplishment for my children, who don’t always feel capable and secure in themselves in the world. Two years later, they have built on these successes and lessened their fears enough to demand a trip to Great Wolf Lodge to try out the waterslides, of all things.
The mission of FACT Oregon is to empower families experiencing disability in their pursuit of a whole life. I’d say: Mission accomplished.
By Nicole Silverman
“There’s no adult special needs grocery store, restaurant, or post office.”
I’ve heard this phrase several times and it used to HAUNT me! Especially at a time in my life when I already felt like we couldn’t leave the house for ANYTHING because of my son’s behaviors and medical issues. I remember the day my husband and I called “being out in society” quits! It was summer, we had just moved into a new neighborhood and my son was 3 years old. We were walking a few blocks to a neighborhood picnic… our first one! My son, Benjamin was in the wagon and as soon as we got to the small park with all the people – his screaming began… and didn’t stop. It felt like all 50 some people fell completely silent and were just watching us. I remember sweat literally pouring down my face and so were the tears. Nobody said hi, nobody came over to see if they could help, we were like weird aliens coming to earth for the first time. But what happened next, really sealed the “never leaving our house again” for both of us. Benjamin had severe acid reflux and when he became really upset, he would throw up! And he did… loud and lots and all three of us were covered in it. We could not leave the park soon enough. Walking quickly back to our house we decided we were done going out in public. We’d just stay home… FOREVER!
This is such a bad place to be… and if you are in this place right now in your journey you are not alone. But do not give up hope! Although it’s not for the faint of heart and it’s certainly not easy, COMMUNITY is worth it! Living a WHOLE life is worth it and your child learning to do hard things to be included in society is worth it the most!
One of the reasons I LOVE working at FACT Oregon is how we partner with communities to provide what we call “soft landings”. Our next one is April 28th at Northwest Children’s Theatre, for their sensory showing of Tenali, the Royal Trickster. What is a sensory showing? Basically, the lights are dimmed, the sound turned down, often times it’s a shorter time frame and ANYTHING goes. Seriously. It’s the perfect place to come and do something that might be very hard and I promise, you will not have 50 strangers looking at you like aliens! I remember our first time going to a sensory showing… just coming into the doors and taking a seat was a success for us. Literally, we left after 10 minutes. Now, we can come to the shorter plays and stay the entire time. We invite friends to go with us and practice keeping our shoes on the ENTIRE time. (my kid is still the loudest one there!)
So what happens for our family at those events that aren’t sensory? Sometimes we’re successful, and sometimes it’s really hard, dare I say disastrous. But we are working daily towards getting to all events through many avenues. Does society need to be more accepting of those who need different supports to be involved in community? Absolutely! And I will continue to advocate and educate in every way possible. My goal as Benjamin’s mom is to never stop trying, learning, exploring ways to help him overcome some of his own obstacles and keep moving him forward with the right supports to be as successful as possible in the future.
My biggest encouragement to all families, especially with those who deal with big behaviors like we do… Don’t give up! Keep moving forward! Try it! And when it goes terribly wrong, take a break, call us here at FACT, investigate and rethink strategy… and try it again from a different angle.
p.s. My son’s 10 now… last summer at our neighborhood picnic we walked there with our neighbors/friends we now know, stayed and ate dinner and had a blast! Don’t give up! Want to join us on April 28th for NWCT’s sensory showing of Tenali, the Royal Trickster? Click for free tickets and details!