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Low Vision Center is Closing

PACE legislative Tree ALERT
Carle Low Vision Center is closing May 31st.  Champaign-Urbana and the surrounding communities are losing a valuable service.  The closest low vision clinics to PACE consumers will be in Pontiac and Effingham.  This means that many people with visual impairments will not have access to a low vision exams.  Please contact Carle Foundation Hospital CEO, James Leonard, and voice your opinion of  Carle’s decision to close the Low Vision Center.  If you received an exam at the clinic, let him know what it meant to you.  Several people who started the East Central IL Low Vision Support Group, that meets at PACE, were also instrumental with opening the Carle Low Vision Center.  Call Dr. Leonard at 383-3003 or write him at Carle Foundation Hospital, 611 W. Park, Urbana, IL 61801.  Perhaps Carle will reconsider the decision if the community voices our concerns.

Victoria Raistrick, M.Ed..Visual Impairment Services Coordinator

The Impact of Language

If you can read this without thinking “politically correct” and rolling your eyes or sighing you have achieved an open mind.

Words have connotations and denotations.
Denotation is a literal meaning of the word
Connotation is an association (emotional or otherwise) which the word evokes

Take the word “cozy”. We know it denotes warm and comfortable. Now what feeling or emotion does it bring to mind? Is it a pleasant word to you? Some will have an image of being on the couch with a quilt and pillows sipping a warm cup of tea. One woman told me it was an unpleasant word to her because it made her think of small places and she was claustrophobic. Either way there is an emotion evoked and the word takes on more meaning than just a definition.

Take the word “handicapped”. Defined it is having a disadvantage that makes doing something more difficult. To some this is the definition of disability. For others the word is offensive compared to “person with a disability”. Whether true or not, it has been suggested this word started when beggars who were disabled were in the streets with their cap in hand – begging for their very survival, well of course they could not work. Not such a good connotation. For me it is an old word from a time having a disability was like an end to life instead of a change in life.

It’s not that we can never slip into those words out of habit, it is just an awareness that sometimes words undermine what we want. A person is reduced to only their disability with words like epileptic, diabetic. Oh sure you won’t get counted off for grammar, but what else are we loosing? An actual person with a name?

Get rid of the R word like the civil rights movement got rid of the N word? I am going to.

Where does it end? Hopefully never and we keep looking at ourselves and thinking about how what we say can impact ourselves or others and we all just keep getting better and so does the world.

Wheelathon Fun Despite Rain

Though it is the second rainy Wheelathon in a row our backup inside Parkland College route was still busy. Our Co sponsor Club ACCESS put together a challenging route. This year we had prizes, a trophy, magician Christopher Bontjes, balloon animals by our own magic man Bob Kirby, face painting, temporary tattoos, “Did you know?” disability fact signs, free pizza, T-shirts and many new faces.

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I remember watching my grandfather walk in his later years and thinking he tended to go back and forth from leg to leg without bending his knees… it reminded me of a penguin. My mother took on that walk as she aged and eventually had three knee replacements…. Yes three but on two legs. I am doing the penguin imitation now with two deteriorating knees. My hip has already been replaced. You guessed it… arthritis.

It is a challenge to walk in crowds, sort of like wheeling my mother’s wheelchair in a crowd years ago. We liked to go to festivals and invariably I would get irritated with people dashing in front of us and expecting us to slow down or stop from a full roll- immediately. My mother was a large woman and we had momentum once we got started, a momentum I valued because it enhanced my push. Over time I developed a technique I would on occasion bring out. I would look past the crowd and pretend I didn’t see anyone dashing in front of us. I would barrel ahead as if daring someone to try and stop us. People are less likely to dash if you aren’t noticing them. In fact once they made the dash I would look down and see just how close we could get to them without actually touching them. I think some of them could feel the breeze. It was still a matter of holding the chair back but somehow it didn’t bother me as much as when others initiated the sudden brake. Mom wasn’t wild about the game, but I pointed out her foot rests were her first line of defense. They extended out beyond her sensitive feet – much like a cow catcher on a locomotive. I promised to be careful not to let anyone fall into her lap and no one ever did.

Unfortunately it is harder now, Mom is long gone and I am trying to hobble in the crowd from bench to chair etc. I don’t have a steel body bumper like Mom’s old wheelchair I just have a cane. I think I will have to be a lot older and cuter to get away with a cane whack maybe someday. A sudden brake of my gate now means PAIN. The people who initiate this sequence are always so oblivious to the pain they activate. Have you ever noticed how pain and anger go together? My husband use to say anger is a secondary emotion. That means you are first scared and your reaction then becomes anger. I see it a lot with fear, which is my reaction to being pushed down. Then anger because I don’t like being scared I will fall and break a piece of myself. My biology instructor use to liken it to an attack of a saber tooth tiger…. I guess the saber tooth is extinc, however, we still react to things as if we are defending our lives from that tiger because our ancestors were the fittest and survived because of the life preserving reaction. Sometimes it is just a reaction inside but none the less it is a significant fear response and tends in some of us to bring on a significant anger. That is when people get whacked with a cane or feel the breeze of a wheelchair on their heels. Until I get old and cute, I will have to grit my teeth.

By: Nancy McClellan-Hickey

Arthritis Foundation Tai Chi Program


The Arthritis Foundation Tai Chi Program is designed to improve the quality of life for people with arthritis using Sun style Tai Chi, one of the recognized major styles of Tai Chi. This style includes agile steps and exercises that may improve mobility, breathing and relaxation.  No deep bending or squatting is required.

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