Theater troupe raising funds
Fidgety Fairy Tales is a musical that re-imagines some of our most memorable children’s tales. In these versions, children with mental health disorders become the heroes of the tales. The performances are led by Matt Jenson and Marya Hart, and involve young actors ages 9-18. Some of the actors have mental health disorders.
Fidgety Fairy Tales has been invited to perform in Washington, DC at the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health National Conference in December. The troupe is raising funds through performances this fall and through a PayPal link at the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health Web site at www.macmh.org Fidgety Fairy Tales combats the negative and damaging stereotypes that surround mental illness by portraying children with mental health disorders as the heroes rather than the villains. The group has performed more than 40 times throughout Minnesota.
Fidgety is the first production of Open•UpTheatre, a youth performance company formed by the MACMH to promote positive images of children with mental health disorders.
In this retelling of the classic tales Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, and Little Red Riding Hood, Jenson and Hart have crafted a lively and thought-provoking production that artfully combats the negative and damaging stereotypes that surround mental illness. Their characters, all based on well-known fairy tale characters, have mental health disorders. Through the telling of each of their stories, the audience comes to see that people with disorders such as depression and ADHD can just as readily be the heroes of the story.
Jenson (writer/director) most recently choreographed the Children’s Theatre Company’s production of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” and University Opera’s “Seven Deadly Sins.” He teaches critical literacy, theatre, and dance at the Children’s Theatre Company, and co-ordinates arts-based public awareness projects for the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health. Marya Hart (composer/lyricist) most recently composed music for Stepping Stone Theater’s production of “Almost to Freedom” and History Theatre’s Raw Stages reading of “20 Days to Find a Wife.” She teaches music at the Children’s Theatre Company and performs throughout the Twin Cities
The production has been so successful that a sequel, funded in part by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, is set to premiere in April 2010. Fidgety Fairy Tales 2 – Another Mental Health Musical will address autism, post-traumatic stress, and explosive anger through the stories of “The Prince and the Pea,” “Gretel & Hansel,” and “The Frog Prince.”
Braille supervisor passed away
Mary Archer, supervisor of the Braille Unit, at the State Services for the Blind Communication Center, died Sept. 15 at age 70. She had worked for the center for more than 20 years. Trained as a math teacher, Archer turned her attention to Braille in 1975. Always a tireless advocate, volunteer Braille transcriber of literature and mathematics, and then instructor, she became a supervisor at the Communication Center while holding various board positions on the National Braille Association and the Braille Authority of North America. In August, she was diagnosed with a rare form of very fast-moving cancer. But in typical fashion for her, Archer left her Braille Unit with clear instructions and fully capable of carrying on without her.
Services were held Sept. 22. Memorials are preferred to the National Braille Association, St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Columbia Heights, or Caringbridge.
Healing garden is dedicated
Fairview Multiple Sclerosis Achievement Center (MSAC) patients dedicated a new healing garden this fall at 2200 University Ave., Suite 140, St. Paul. A $10,000 grant from the University Medical Auxiliary was used to transform the space, which included installing new raised flower beds, an arbor entrance to set the tone and provide a transition into the space, a pergola for shade, a water feature to provide a calming effect and texture to stimulate the senses.
Estimates for the full construction of the garden were more than $75,000, far exceeding funds provided by the grant. Neighboring RockTenn packaging company donated wood, landscape block and other supplies for the garden. RockTenn employees also volunteered to clean and repair the fence and construct the arbor, pergola and the raised flower beds.
Experts at Fairview MSAC say a well-designed garden that includes water features and special plantings can promote health and healing and reduce stress. Sights, sounds, smells and textures stimulate the senses, and sunshine helps with Vitamin D production. Fairview’s MSAC is a specialized therapeutic rehabilitation and chronic disease management program offering outpatient rehabilitation therapies and an adult day program for people with MS.
Eames, service dog pioneer, has died
Ed Eames, Ph.D. died on Oct. 25. He was co-founder and president of the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP). IAADP began in 1993 in St. Louis by Ed, his wife Tony, and with Joan Froling. IAADP works to improve public awareness about the use of dog guides.
The organization empowers persons with disabilities with guide, hearing and service dogs to work together; fosters the assistance dog movement through global network, provides information in many formats about dog guides, and offers advocacy, education and peer support.
The organization has grown from a small number of advocates to more than 2,500. IAADP is led by an all volunteer board of dog partners who are elected into their leadership positions. IAADP is a membership organization.
The Eames often traveled across country and around the world with their dog guides. Ed and Tony were tireless advocates and public speakers on a variety of issues concerning equal access to dog guides among other things.
“Ed will surely be missed,” said Access Press contributor Clarence Schadegg. “We lost a leader in the area of public education about service animals.”
Health care providers visit UCare
A senior-level delegation of health care executives and practitioners from Caucasus region and Western Eurasia (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine) visiting the Twin Cities in late August met with UCare and its leadership team as part of a tour of health care businesses across the United States. Nancy Feldman, UCare’s President and CEO, welcomed 18 international delegates and two Russian interpreters to UCare on Aug. 24. The delegation included senior physicians, medical directors, government health care advisors, and hospital administrators from the five independent nations formerly part of the Soviet Union.
The visit was requested and arranged by the U.S. Department of Commerce and its International Trade Association as part of its Special American Business Internship Training (SABIT) program. SABIT is a Department of Commerce initiative designed to familiarize participants with U.S. industry standards and trends in hospital administration through visits with hospitals, clinics, U.S. government agencies, associations, and private companies.
Justyna Kottke, International Trade Specialist, SABIT, says UCare was selected as a host site because it is a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). This is the third visit by a SABIT delegation to Minnesota, which Kottke says is regarded as a leading site of medical industry activity. While in the Twin Cities, the delegation met with several medical organizations, including Medronic, LifeLink III, Hennepin County Medical Center, Regions Hospital, and the Amplatz Children’s Hospital at the University of Minnesota.
Gillette plans hospital expansion
Gillette Children’s Hospital plans a $42 million expansion of its current home in St. Paul, with a new 52,000-square-foot building at 205 University Ave. The new glass-faced building will be connected to Regions Hospital via a skyway over University Avenue. The new facility will host surgery, pediatric intensive-care units and outpatient services. Existing Gillette areas within Regions will be renovated. Gillette Children’s Specialty Health Care treats children and teens with special conditions such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida and brain and spinal cord injuries, as well as adults with disabilities that began during childhood.
The expansion is meant to help Gillette be ready for future increases in its patient population. About $6 million will be provided through donors and $36 million in bonds from the City of St. Paul. The conduit revenue bonds are issued by the city for Gillette but represent no legal encumbrance or debt for the city taxpayers. The expansion will be built in 2011.
Beepball athlete has passed away
Joel R. Reinbold, age 29, of Mankato died Oct. 25 at Immanuel-St. Joseph’s Hospital, Mankato from complications of pneumonia. Services were held Oct. 29, with burial in Calvary Cemetery, Mankato. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the Vision Loss Resources, American Cancer Society, or the donor’s choice.
Reinbold was active in Minnesota beepball circles and was a graduate of Vision Loss Resources in Minneapolis. He was born on June 28, 1980 to Jerry and Judy (Frost) Reinbold in Mankato. He graduated from Loyola Catholic School in 1998. He attended South Central College where he earned a degree in Automotive Technology. He also attended Minneapolis Community and Technical College and earned an Associate of Arts degree. He had been employed by Autotronics and Mankato Oil and Tire. He enjoyed listening to sports on television, NASCAR racing, and Twins baseball. He enjoyed music and going to concerts. He played various instruments including the guitar, drums, and saxophone.
Reinbold’s friends described him as an amazing person who loved his family and friends. He always had a smile and the ultimate attitude. He is survived by his parents, brother, sister, grandmother, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends.
New AAC, autism center opens
The new Center for AAC & Autism, newly launched online at www.aacandautism.com, is dedicated to helping children with autism learn to communicate through the power of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices. The center is based in Wooster, OH.
“More than half of the thousands of children diagnosed with autism every year are unable to communicate verbally,” said Director Cindy Halloran, who has worked extensively with children with autism during more than 20 years as an occupational therapist. “Our own experience and published research show that AAC offers many of these children a viable method of independently and spontaneously expressing themselves.”
Focusing attention on the promise of AAC for nonverbal communicators is a key mission of the center. “A voice output AAC device gives a nonverbal child a way to communicate, which can improve social engagement, decrease frustration and aberrant behavior, and help others to see the child’s true potential,” Halloran said.
Staffed by speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and assistive technology experts, the center offers Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP) training workshops nationwide to teach professionals and family members AAC strategies for promoting language development in those with autism. The center also serves as an online destination for AAC information, tools, and additional resources; supports clinical research aimed at the effective implementation of AAC within the autism arena; and facilitates sharing of best practices and success stories among clinicians and families.
To learn more about the Center for AAC & Autism, go to www.aacandautism.com or call toll-free (866) 998-1726.