Thursday, July 9, 2009

Odds & Ends

A little bit of everything...

I'm trying something a little bit different this week. Instead of my usual "topic of interest" I thought I'd share what's happening in my real life for a change. Some of you may enjoy this "detour" and some of you won't -- for you in group two, I'll return to the old format next week. Group one folks? Here we go!

Item 1: As some of you know, last year I applied for services from the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation. My decision to leave my previous occupation (Licensed Massage Therapist) was a bittersweet one, having made some very good friends along the way. I kept the friends (good news there) but decided to leave the profession because I was no longer able to meet the physical demands of such work.

Almost a year later, I have passed the testing and evaluations. I have successfully interviewed professionals currently working in the Toledo area. Based on those interviews, I have chosen a new profession and I have the approval of the B.V.R. to go ahead and start evaluating schools.

As of this moment it is down to two: The University of Toledo, and Lourdes College. I must now make appointments to visit the schools before making a final decision. Oh, and my new chosen profession? Substance Abuse Counsellor/Case Worker. A bit of a change from massage therapy, yes? I'll let you know how that goes.

Item 2: If you've read earlier installments of this blog you are aware that I am having a ramp built onto the back entrance of our home, thanks to the kind generosity of The Ability Center of Greater Toledo. The bids are in, and a final decision was made, leaving nothing left but to sign the paperwork and watch in awe as craftsmen (and perhaps craftswomen) construct a ramp which will enable me to better exit and enter our home. I plan to take "before and after" photos and post them here sometime after the sawdust settles. Stay tuned.

Item 3: Not many of you know that since around January of this year I have been working on a secret project. The project comes in three parts, and I'm ready to unveil the first two parts today.

Part 1a. Introducing Buckeye Barrier Busters. Since my arrival here over a decade ago I have become (sometimes painfully) aware of the hit-or-miss nature of accessibility to buildings and events here in the Toledo area. We need education and awareness, to be sure, but a little activism now and again probably won't hurt either.

To that end, I have created -- an organization dedicated to raising awareness of the barriers to access within our community, and working to remove those barriers. The website still needs a lot of work, but it's up now, and everyone is welcome to sign up for a free membership. We need your voice, so I hope you'll consider lending yours to our cause.

Part 1b. I'd also like to introduce you to our online community site, the Buckeye Barrier Busters Forum. Free to join and use as well, we have discussion groups, support groups, live chat room capability, streaming music, a photo album, an events calendar, and more being added all the time. Please come visit, and feel free to post a hello. Oh, and tell your friends too. The more the merrier!

Item 4: Just so you don't think this is all about me, I did want to tell you about the coolest new application (for the iPhone) I learned about earlier this week. Called the RunPee, this app does pretty much exactly what the name implies -- it tells you when the "slow parts" of a movie are coming up, so you can "run for it" and get back in time so you don't miss anything important or exciting. Just start it when the movie begins, and then if nature calls, you can just look at the screen on your iPhone and read when the next window of opportunity will arrive. It even fills you in on what you missed (via scrolling text) while you were away. While not created exclusively for the disabled, I know from personal experience just how useful such a device can be. If you've got an iPhone, you may never see a movie the same way again. :)

And that brings this week's posting to a close. I hope you've been enjoying the wonderful weather we've been having... and until next week, Go Buckeye's!


  1. What a terrific idea! I wonder if there is a similar group up here in Ypsi/Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor surely needs it. Ypsi is a bit better.

  2. Thanks Diana!

    You could try contacting a local (or national if none are local to you) office of the United Way. Often they have lists of organizations active in any particular city or area. Let me know if you find any!

  3. Hi Lawrence!
    I am KC Bailey and I work at The University of Toledo. I came across your blog and wanted to see if I could be of any help in your visit to The University of Toledo. Please contact me directly to set up an appointment and I will help you answer any questions you may have.
    Take care and Go Rockets!

  4. Hi KC!

    Talk about perfect timing. LOL! I'll try calling you later today, and thanks for visiting, and for posting! :)

  5. Hi Lawrence. Congratulations! I am so happy for your plans for your new career. I wish you the best of luck. Good luck with the Forum too.
    You are one busy fellow my friend. :-)

  6. Thank you, Kelli! I'm doing my best. I want to make a difference, and this seems the best way to get there. Thanks for the well wishes. I'll need them I think. :)

  7. Mr. Harrington,

    My name is Rebecca Louks and I am student at the University of Toledo College of Law. My friend Ryan Stork, a med student at Toledo is starting a program that educates elementary school age children (more specifically 5th graders) about disabilities. Our goal is to work with the Springfield School District this upcoming school year (hopefully, this has not been confirmed yet). The goal of the project is mainly to open the minds of the fifth graders and teach them about the struggles and triumphs that people with certain disabilities encounter in their everyday lives. We’re looking to enlighten them so that when they encounter a person living with a disability they are not intimidated, but educated and ready to be pro-active and friendly, even offer a helping hand if necessary. To do this we will work with one school district during this pilot year, visiting each classroom approximately 3 times and having interactive discussions with the students about disabilities.

    The reason I am contacting you is because we are also interested in starting a Pen Pal type of program between the 5th graders and someone living with a disability. What we’d like to do is have the 5th graders write letters to anyone interested in participating, discussing their disabilities and how it affects their lives. We’d like the participants to write back and answer any questions that the students may have as well as to tell the students how living with a disability possibly enriches their lives. For example if a person is blind, how their other senses are heightened to compensate.

    We’re asking for adult volunteers that would comprehend what this program is about and that understand that the students are going to be asking many questions about their particular disability. We’d ask that the volunteers be dedicated to answering the students questions and discuss through letters with the students how their disability affects their life both positively and negatively, and what other people can do to make it better, or maybe even what other people do that makes it harder. Of course the language would also have to be comprehensible to a fifth grader.

    I've contacted The Abilities Center of Greater Toledo, as of now to no avail. I found your blog and have been following it for the past few weeks and I feel like you may be a great candidate for a pen pal if you're willing. Please contact me and let me know what you think!

    My name is Rebecca Louks

    The Coordinator of this project is Ryan Stork


    Rebecca Louks

  8. Hiya Rebecca!

    Sounds like a wonderful project! I'll email you in a few days to get more details, but yes, you can count me in as a pen pal. :)

    Oh, and thanks for being a reader! I appreciate it!

  9. Great Thanks! - Rebecca Louks