UC Berkeley class prepares disabled students for competitive job market

April 23, 2012

UC Berkeley class prepares disabled students for competitive job market

UC Berkeley News Center | April 23, 2012 | By Yasmin Anwar

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If it’s a tough job market out there for able-bodied college graduates, imagine how employment prospects might look to students with cerebral palsy or a muscular or neurodegenerative disease.

Take Jade Theriault, a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley, who uses a wheelchair and worries about how to discuss with a prospective employer the workplace accommodations she will need due to spinal muscular atrophy.

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iPads help open doors in Rochester schools

March 6, 2012

iPads help open doors in Rochester schools

Democrat And Chronicle | March 2, 2012 | By Tiffany Lankes

For most of her years in school, 10-year-old Haydee Lopez’s ability to participate in class was extremely limited.

The School 29 student has spinal muscular atrophy, which is slowly eroding her physical strength and has confined her to a wheelchair. The muscles in her hands are so weak that Haydee cannot hold a pencil. Her reach extends just a few inches from her body, so she cannot use a keyboard. While her body lacks physical strength, her mind is sharp, and helping her express herself is a constant challenge for her teachers.

But despite her limitations, this school year Haydee wrote her first report. Using an iPad, she was able to type out full sentences to demonstrate what she learned about dolphins.

“I think this is the first time she ever saw something she did from beginning to end,” said her teacher, Becky Robbins.

Haydee’s story highlights the success some city schools are seeing as they use the latest technology trend to help their special education students.

While other schools and districts have taken a broader approach to buying iPads — some putting them in the hands of every student at every grade level — Rochester is taking a more focused approach, targeting students in the primary grades and those with disabilities.

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A Hero in a Wheelchair

June 16, 2011

A Hero in a Wheelchair

The Patriot Post | June 16, 2011 | By Roy Exum

As we sound the drums and lower the house lights so the spotlights can pick up the newest hero in my personal Hall of Fame, you’ll notice our newest honoree is dwarfed by the motorized wheelchair she is commanding with a hand lever but we make no apology that it will serve as the Chair of Honor for Audrey Winkelsas.

In fact, that chair is a beautiful accessory to this pretty girl’s life and has enabled her to scurry from first one classroom and then the next at Wekiva High School, where she and 500 of her classmates were graduated this weekend in the annual ceremonies held near Apopka, Fla.

Audrey Winkelas was the overwhelming choice as the school’s Valedictorian where, based on a 4.0 grade-point scale, her overall average was 5.1. The reason for such a disparity was because she made A’s in 14 Advanced Placement courses, this despite the fact her classmates would literally have to help her get her lessons from her bag because her hands and wrists are too frail to lift an average textbook.

Audrey, you see, has a crippling and incurable disease called spinal muscular atrophy and it is with great pleasure we tell you that she plans to dedicate the rest of her life studying and researching the disease. She has already been awarded a full scholarship to the University of Miami in Coral Gables.

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Despite losing use of arms, CSULA student achieves bachelor’s degree in graphic design

June 15, 2011

Despite losing use of arms, CSULA student achieves bachelor’s degree in graphic design

Alhambra Source | June 15, 2011 | By Margie Low

Alhambra resident Todd Tostado, who lost the use of his arms at age 14 as a result of spinal muscular atrophy, received his bachelor’s degree in art at Cal State Los Angeles this past weekend.

Tostado, who also has been using a ventilator since he was nine due to chronic respiratory failure, enjoyed drawing as a child, but eventually could not use his hands to draw due to the neuromuscular disease that progressively weakened his muscles. His parents bought him his first computer during his senior year at Alhambra High School, and there he began his quest to express himself creatively. With assistive technology, he was able to design and create art digitally.

After graduating from high school, he took art classes at Pasadena City College, then went on to pursue a baccalaureate degree in graphic design at CSULA.

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Wekiva High valedictorian’s life a victory over disability

June 3, 2011

Wekiva High valedictorian’s life a victory over disability

Orlando Sentinel | June 3, 2011 | By Joseph Freeman

The valedictorian at Wekiva High School near Apopka succeeded in 14 Advanced Placement courses, but she lacks the strength to operate a stapler. She earned a grade-point average of 5.1, but whenever she started a new class, she had to ask another student to help her take books out of her backpack.

Audrey Winkelsas’ life has been full of such difficult contrasts. Yet when she emerged from behind the stage in a wheelchair to raucous applause and a standing ovation during graduation ceremonies Friday, she finally had a moment to focus only on the victories. In her small, frail hands, she held a copy of her valedictory speech.

Winkelsas, 18, has spinal muscular atrophy, or SMA, a disease in which the body’s muscles degenerate. Although her affliction is crippling and incurable, she is a dazzling student who has received a full scholarship at the University of Miami, where she plans to study the disease that has dominated her life.

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Anthem teen closing door on high school

May 12, 2011

Anthem teen closing door on high school

The Arizona Republic | May 12, 2011 | By Betty Reid

It took friends to open doors for Austin Cuaderno.

The 18-year-old Boulder Creek High School senior, who is in a wheelchair because of spinal muscular atrophy, is one of 505 students receiving a high school diplomas on May 26. When the teenager closes the door on high school, he will wheel away with a weighted grade-point average of about 3.4, earned from honors classes such as physics and math.

The shy, friendly teenager credits his achievement to friends.

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To “Walk a Mile” in Her Wheelchair

April 30, 2011

To “Walk a Mile” in Her Wheelchair

KTVA (CBS) | April 29, 2011 | By Grace Jang

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Thousands of children in the United States suffer from muscular dystrophy and the experience can sometimes alienate them from their peers.

However, one Anchorage school set about trying to bridge that gap with a unique project.

Fitting in is one of the most important things for a sixth grader but it can be hard when you’re a sixth grader who gets around in a wheelchair.

When Krista Stapleford was three years old she was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, which impacts her ability to use all of the muscles in her body, particularly her legs.

So in order to get around, 12-year-old Krista relies on a wheelchair, but that means she stands out and not necessarily in a good way.

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FightSMA to host panel discussions on spinal muscular atrophy

April 30, 2011

FightSMA to host panel discussions on spinal muscular atrophy

News Medical | April 30, 2011

International non-profit organization FightSMA will be hosting highly respected experts from across the country on Thursday, May 5, 2011 for a series of panel discussions, Thriving with SMA: LIVE! This panel is a unique, one-of-a-kind series of presentations from influential leaders in the fields of pulmonary issues, orthopedics, nutrition, neurology and clinical trial.

FightSMA will be joined by families, friends, healthcare professionals and more for this historic presentation. In addition, the panel will be offered online with free and unlimited access via the web broadcasting service, UStream. The panel will be live broadcast from 9:00am EDT to 2:00pm EDT on the FightSMA website (www.fightsma.org). Attendees can register for the webcast, as well as submit questions for the panelists by visiting the FightSMA website and pointing towards the “Celebrating 20 Years” block.

“There are hundreds of families across the U.S. and across the globe who simply cannot physically attend the conference for various reasons,” said FightSMA President and founder, Martha Slay. “So, on May 5, we’re bringing the conference to them! Families will be able to ask questions of SMA experts in the areas of nutrition, exercise, pulmonary issues, and clinical trials. This is unprecedented and it’s free, and can be attended from your own computer. Go to www.fightsma.org for more details.”

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Spinal muscular atrophy doesn’t stop Harvard-bound Lakes senior

April 29, 2011

Spinal muscular atrophy doesn’t stop Harvard-bound Lakes senior

Army.mil | April 27, 2011 | By Marisa Petrich

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — Chanel Washington has a lot going on for a high school senior.

She’s on the Youth Council of Lakewood, and involved in Knowledge Bowl, French Club and student government. She was state president of DECA, an organization for students interested in business and marketing, and she loves going to rock concerts.

She’s been accepted to four Ivy League universities. She’s also been in a wheelchair since she was 5 years old.

Chanel has spinal muscular atrophy, an inherited disease that causes muscles to progressively degenerate. Most people with SMA die as children. But Chanel doesn’t let anything hold her back.

“Like I said, (my disease) makes things difficult, but I think even more it pushes me even further,” she said.

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Castle Rock boy beating the odds

March 23, 2011

Castle Rock boy beating the odds

FOX (Denver) | March 23, 2011 | By Ginger Delgado

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CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — A five- year-old boy from Castle Rock with a rare genetic disorder is beating the odds, thanks to his family who won’t give up.

Reece Rubino was not supposed to live past the age of two, according to his doctors, but his parents fought to keep him alive and give him hope.  Reece was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy or SMA.

There are different types of the disease, but Reece has the most severe — Type One — which paralyzes children from head to toe.  It’s a deadly disease for which there’s no cure.  But Reece is living, learning and defying the odds.

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