lightness + joy

They do go together… there’s scientific evidence – and now there’s SunSprite.  We first came across SunSprite on Indiegogo in their crowd funding phase.

screenshot of SunSprite website

CLICK IMAGE TO VISIT SUNSPRITE.COM

SunSprite is the first solar-powered wearable device that measures and tracks the amount of sun and light that a person is receiving. In its most basic form, it reminds you to get outside and absorb bright light, which wakes up your brain and makes you healthier!

I thought it was a great way for Mac to start thinking about managing his health (at least one portion of it) and what a great option for people in aged care or those with mobility issues in general who maybe aren’t getting access to the ‘right light’ to optimise their health.

A shot of Mac sitting in the distance in front of our giant Moreton Bay Fig tree in our garden, dappled light coming through, school uniform, black converse high tops.  Blended into the corner of the pic is a close up of his shoes and the small sunsprite device attached to his shoelaces on his left foot.

Dappled light under our gorgeous Fig Tree at the bottom of the garden.

I commented on their campaign and they asked for more information.  We Skyped about how and why a kid like Mac, with significant physical disabilities and who isn’t yet in control of his own mobility, could benefit from something like this.

As a thank you from the team, for helping them out in their development phase, Mac received his very own SunSprite when they shipped this month.  He’s now worn it for nine days and has hit his 100% mark by midday on almost every day.  Mostly he’s been wearing it on his shoes as it’s easy to remember on school days but it would perhaps be more appropriate up on his wheelchair headrest or collar – it is working ok for now though.

SunSprite also syncs with its mobile app, for us, we have it synced to Mac’s iPad. Where it will be useful is for Mac to think about how he can use the data to see if he needs to make changes in his life (with us now, but on his own when he is older).  For now school life pretty much ensures he is getting out and about with enough light each day.  But in the future, when he is responsible for directing his own support staff/personal assistants etc, this will hopefully have been a good way for him to start thinking about how he needs to be in the ‘driver’s seat’, how he should be the one making decisions based on his own data and/or experience.

Congrats to the SunSprite team… this is a great little device.

You can read more about it on their website by clicking the image below.

Image showing how Sunsprite helps you be healthier... Screengrab from Sunsprite website, click image to visit their page

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Filed under Access all Areas, the big picture

le Tour de Fun…

The Student Representative Council held a ‘bike day’ for all students today.  It was one of our Education Week celebrations.

Top pic kids on bikes, vibrant colours, bike helmets, bright blue school uniforms prevail, Mac in his jogger in the midst of it all.  bottom pic kids in the distance, Mac and his mate riding up to meet the crowd.

In the lead up I talked to Mac about how he might be involved. He likes being on the back of a bike in his bike trailer… we don’t do it very often, we don’t own good bikes and his bike trailer/jogger is generally left at school as it is hard to transport with the wheelchair.

But, here was a great opportunity for his mates to learn how to ride with his jogger on the back.  Our village always has groups of kids riding around the streets… it would be cool if Mac could tag along for the ride without adults needing to always be with them.

Mac and I talked to the ‘lads’ at school.  What kind of bike should we get?

I know we could have borrowed one… as I said, there’s tonnes of bikes in the village.   However, if Mac “owns the bike” it’s always available for his trailer.  We will know it’s in good condition, safe and confident it will have brakes (so often considered “optional”).

The lads knew exactly what we neeeded… a 24″ geared bike, probably mountain bike style.

Off shopping I went.  Our trusty local bike shop so often repairing Mac’s wheelchair and servicing his jogger was my one stop shop.  They had a great little bike, super light weight, they cut me a deal – we were sorted.

Mac now owns a bike!

And the kids now know they can head off with him at any stage for a ride (their leg muscles permitting).

There was not a smile bigger than Mac’s today – he was loving life sitting back while his mates did all the work.

What a fantastic day… here’s a sneak peek of what went down.

One of the kids remarked… “he’s not that heavy, it’s more your energy gets used up listening too him laughing behind you”… I guess he might be a bit distracting.

Thanks to the SRC, you put on a great day.

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mad-eye macco

Book Week 2014, a book week purists dream… no specific theme, just books, glorious books.Photo of the Mad Eye Moodie character portrayed in the Harry Potter Movies

It’s probably fitting when your name is Macdonald you pick a character with Scottish heritage for book week.  The fact that character also has a disability was really just a happy co-incidence, the reality is… it was “all about the hair”.

Mac’s choice this year was the impressive auror Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody, from Harry Potter.  With perfect hair to pull of the look Mac was pretty impressed with himself.
Image of Mac dressed up as Mad-Eye Moodie from the harry potter series, a fake false eye and large brown jacket with Mac sitting in his wheelchair.  His blonde 'bob' hairstyle finishing off the look.Time constraints (and… oh, yeah, real life) meant we didn’t quite invent a recumbent wheelchair broomstick.  Fortunately, the freezing wind was of no concern by the appropriate choice of Dad’s Driza-bone oilskin jacket keeping Mac totally snug throughout the book week parade – he certainly fared better than some of the other muggles whose costumes would have been ruined by the addition of a jacket.

Artist Impression of Mad Eye Moodies Recumbant Broomstick click image for source information

SOURCE: Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey – by Bob McCabe – Harper Design – October 2011

Click this link to look back at book week’s past?

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Filed under Accessing the Curriculum, Inclusion... straight up!

when what you ‘don’t say’ means the most…

This week in NSW schools it is SASS (School Administrative and Support Staff) Appreciation Week. 

At the Monday morning assembly I managed to catch the presentation by students to our school’s SAS staff and enjoyed hearing them share their insights – all written by the kids themselves”.  I have to admit though, I was perhaps most moved by what they “didn’t say”.

white background with 5 gerbera flowers pink, red, coral, orange and yellow with green stems, green text thanks coming out of the stemOur SAS team comprises administrative staff, learning support officers (teachers aides/paraprofessionals), groundsmen, IT support etc).  Each team member was presented with a small certificate of appreciation, a beautiful gerbera flower and a small speech from different students telling them why they were appreciated.  

There were so many reasons given as to why the kids want to thank them… from getting balls of the roof to preparing newsletters, looking after the office, helping them know where to play, applying band-aids or just having a ‘chat’.  

What struck me when the classroom Learning Support Officers (LSOs/teachers’ aides/paras) were being thanked is that there was no suggestion they were there for any ‘specific or special’ student.  They were considered to be in the classroom for ALL students.  There was no singling out of who they helped and why.

This is exactly how learning support should happen in classrooms.  All students, regardless of any diagnosis or funding, should be feeling supported by the presence of an additional adult in the classroom.  They shouldn’t feel, for example that the adult is, say, “Mac’s aide”.  Sure, Mac’s high physical support needs mean he will get more support in some areas… but I love that the students recognise the aide is there for ‘all of them’.  And I love that Mac (or any student in the school who warrants funded support) isn’t identified as being ‘a kid with an adult attached’ to them.



We often reflect on how well the school has embraced and enhanced the idea of natural supports and recognising peers play a vital role in supporting one another.  I love seeing the adults who come into the school as a result of funding for identified students aren’t singled out for that purpose once they get there.

Well done everyone!

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words need not apply…

The cinema was dark… Transformers 4 was proving a fun feast for our senses.

Mac along two of his mates, W & C, had been transfixed from the start.

The other boys shared popcorn while Mac provided the odd giggle, ‘coo’ or ‘glaar’ when the intensity of the moment required it.

We were most the way through the movie when out of the corner of my eye I saw W lean in close to Mac and heard him whisper…

W:    “Mac, are you enjoying the movie?”headshot of Mac, big open mouth grin, scruncy nose, sepia print

Mac’s response was silent but offered W a facial expression not unlike this image – a big open mouth, scrunchy face response

W:    whispering again… “I take that as a yes.”

And with that he settled back into his seat as they watched the final showdown of the movie.

Verbal responses not necessary.

Authentic.  Simple.  Beautiful.

 

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Filed under friends, Inclusion... straight up!, things that make me go "glll"

todos com todos

everyone with everybody…

A fantastic documentary about the inclusion of children with disability in mainstream schools in São Paulo, Brazil.

While almost the entire doco was “quote worthy” I particularly like the simplicity of this translated statement by Samuel’s father…

 

“I don’t see any other model.

In the segregation model people with disability don’t learn their autonomy and people without don’t learn to deal with the difference”.
Samu’s Dad

 

This movie is part of the Why Heloisa Project www.porqueheloisa.com.br
I think I will be spending some time clicking around in that project/website in the coming days.


For our English language blind viewers I have requested an English translation… will post it here if I can get my hands on it.

todos com todos…

 

 

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why bother, indeed…

“Why would you even bother” her statement was more matter of fact than argument “he’s gonna get places quicker and have more fun if we’re pushing him in his chair”.

“Yeah, it wouldn’t be, like, easy, it’d be hard and you’d still need help” came another observation from one of the boys.

You see the question had been posed from a classmate:
“Will Mac ever be able to walk?”

Mac’s first response (with his switches) to that question was a swift “no”, and on further enquiry as to whether this “bothered him” another clear “no” response.

More comments, more discussion … the consensus was that, ultimately, “walking really isn’t all that important” the important thing was getting where you want with who you want (aka mobility).

If only more people would listen to the wisdom of 10 and 11 year olds.  How great for Mac to be involved in a discussion that ultimately determines that his way of existing is not only OK, it is totally authentic and not considered ‘less’.

Sure, there was some talk about Mac getting to drive his own wheelchair, what might be needed, how they can help that happen, what needs to be invented to make it better (of course robotics came up ;-) ) … but all that is about Mac being empowered, it’s not ‘dissing’ his current mode of mobility.

It is so refreshing to see these kids really think through what it is they are talking about, really think.

So much of our society can be quite superficial about these things, like walking is some amazingly necessary skill, or a prerequisite for a worthwhile life.

Mainstream media and social media got all excited about the opening ceremony of the Football World Cup having a paralysed man use an exoskeleton to walk and kick a ball – it was all a bit weird and ‘icky’ – I am glad Mac and his mates say “why bother?”

Sure, there may be some people out there who are unable to walk and really want to, I respect that.  I just don’t think we need to perpetuate a damaging message that walking is some sort of ‘Holy Grail’ for all people who use wheelchairs.

I don’t hate the technological advances that come of these ventures – who knows what may come of them?  We may finally end up building better wheelchairs where steps, gutters and raised thresholds soon become no obstacle.  Chairs might be able to become more compact, more comfortable and well, while you’re at it … could we perhaps make them ‘hover’?

In the meantime, I’ll continue to listen to the wisdom of kids.

As I was digging around for a suitable image to use in this post, I came across Red Nicholson’s post over at Attitude Live.

Red nails it – have a read.

http://attitudelive.com/blog/red-nicholson/opinion-why-obsession-walking

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Filed under Access all Areas, Inclusion... straight up!, Technology - things that help