Next Page »

May articles highlight “Mental Health Month”

May is Mental Health Month and numerous organizations and celebrities are speaking up to raise awareness about the often taboo topic.

In a report for Cronkite News journalist Luke Wright focuses on famous athletes who describe their experiences with depression, panic attacks and suicide. The report features athletes from sports including basketball, football and track. The statistics mentioned in the story may shock from readers, for example Wright reports that, “Nearly 24 percent of 465 athletes at NCAA Division I private universities reported a “clinically relevant” level of depression, according to a 2016 study by researchers at Drexel and Kean universities. Female athletes had a higher prevalence rate: 28 percent vs. 18 percent.”

The science magazine “Nature” also features a collection of articles this month focused on mental health awareness in the science research industry. One article by Emily Sohn reports that graduate students are especially vulnerable to mental illness and includes tips from mental health experts on how to avoid it. In an opinion essay for “Nature” scientist Dave Reay describes his symptoms of depression as a “black dog,” similar to the one Winston Churchill made famous, that haunted his pursuit of a Ph.D.

In a story for NBC’s “Today Show” reporter Cynthia McFadden interviewed three teenagers with mental health disorders reacting positively to the social media campaign #MyYoungerSelf. The campaign features candid testimonies from sports and entertainment celebrities describing their experiences living with depression and anxiety.

April 25 NCDJ workshop trains Arizona PIOs about basics of #DisabilityComm

On Wednesday, April 25 the National Center for Disability and Journalism partnered with Ability 360 and the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council to host a workshop titled “Improving Disability Communication” for local public information officers.

The goal of the workshop was to introduce public service employees to disability communication topics, styles and perspectives.

Activities included tutorials about disability language style and tips on making digital media accessible. Participants heard insightful testimonies from people with a variety of disabilities as well as local reporters who shape mass media stories.

Agency representatives at the workshop came from Department of Economic Security, Department of Transportation, State Parks and Trails, Department of Health Services and many others. A similar workshop is planned for September 21 at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix and host local journalists and public relations executives.

NCDJ Director Kristin Gilger introduces participants and event coordinators at the start of the April 25, 2018 "Improving Disability Communication" workshop at Ability 360. About 30 workshop attendees sit around a horseshoe-shaped table facing three large projection screens.
NCDJ Director Kristin Gilger introduces participants and event coordinators at the start of the April 25, 2018 “Improving Disability Communication” workshop at Ability 360.
30 participants in the "Improving Disability Communication" workshop sit around a large horseshoe table listening to NCDJ Director Kristin Gilger, a petite blonde executive, explain the upcoming activities.
Attendees of the “Improving Disability Communication” workshop on April 25, 2018.
Tessa Ringo, a brunette woman in a blue dress, and her adolescent son Aiden, who has brunette hair and glasses and uses a wheelchair, describe their experiences discussing disabilities with acquaintances and reporters. They sit amongst a row of panelists and Tessa holds a portable microphone near her mouth.
Tessa Ringo and her son Aiden, who uses a wheelchair, describe their experiences discussing disabilities with acquaintances and reporters.
NCDJ Director Kristin Gilger stands in front of 3 project screens leading a tutorial about disability language styles.
NCDJ Director Kristin Gilger leads a workshop tutorial about disability language styles. A complete list of preferred language is available on the NCDJ’s website.
Loren Worthington (left) and Jennifer Longdon lead a tutorial on digital media accessibility and appropriate visual elements for disability stories.
Loren Worthington (left) and Jennifer Longdon lead a tutorial on digital media accessibility and appropriate visual elements for disability stories.
Local reporters sit together behind a large table speaking towards the workshop participants. Panelists include including Maria Polletta, Amy Silverman, Kathy Ritchie and Morgan Loew.
Local reporters (left to right) Maria Polletta, Amy Silverman, Kathy Ritchie and Morgan Loew share their experiences covering disability stories. Taken April 25, 2018 at the “Improving Disability Communication” workshop hosted by NCDJ, Ability 360 and Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

Updates to key NCDJ resources, “Terminology Quiz” and “Language Style Guide”

Do you love writing, language and disability communication? Then check out our newest version of the NCDJ “Terminology Quiz” to test your knowledge of disability lingo. Even if you identify as a person with disabilities or work for and with people with disabilities you may be surprised which phrases are gaining popularity. For further reading, check out our complete “NCDJ Disability Language Style Guide.”

Blind students perform tap routine with professional ballet troupe in Pennsylvania

A group of students from the Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia recently treated audiences to a tap dance alongside members of the Pennsylvania Ballet’s youth troupe. The performance was part of the ceremony for Art-Reach’s 2018 Cultural Access Awards which aim to promote participation in the arts amongst people with disabilities. Journalist Monica Marie Zorrilla documented the emotional performance for local outlet ‘BillyPenn.

Dancer says symptoms of OCD recede while he performs onstage

Steven Loch doesn’t know why his obsessive-compulsive disorder subsides while he’s dancing, but he’s grateful for the relief it provides from the “torture” of his symptoms. In a compelling interview with Brendan Kiley of The Seattle Times, Loch gives a candid description of the disturbing thoughts that cause his unpleasant behavior and prompted him to find treatment at psychiatric hospitals.

Kiley’s excellent article also features an explanation by Dr. Sam Zinner, a specialist in neurological development, of OCD’s medical origins.

“The human brain has a cluster of neurons called the basal ganglia. Put together, he explained, they’re the size of a walnut, and take in the deluge of cognitive, motor, memory, emotional and sensory information that floods through our brains when we, say, kick a soccer ball or watch out for poisonous snakes while walking through a swamp. The basal ganglia are supposed to filter out all the extraneous noise so we can focus on the task at hand. “In every picosecond of time,” Zinner said, “the basal ganglia have to decide what is relevant, what not to block out so you can survive.”

But the basal ganglia in brains with OCD — and related conditions, including Tourette syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) — are, in his words, “leaky filters.” Those leaks lead to information overload and behavior that, to the casual observer, might seem odd — like compulsively touching a magazine three times before picking it up, or hiding on a bathroom floor in costume during a ballet performance to avoid horrifying, intrusive thoughts.”

Hear Steve Loch describing his OCD symptoms in his own words and watch him dance in this captivating video by Seattle Times’ video editor Corinne Chin.

#EqualPayDay highlights pay gap faced by women with disabilities

April 10 is “Equal Pay Day” and serves to promote discussion about causes of gender pay inequality. Robyn Powell penned an opinion essay for Bustle outlining recent statistics about pay gaps faced by women, women of color and women with disabilities. She writes, “Stereotypes about the capabilities of people with disabilities often lead to discrimination by employers. Employers must reduce these barriers and recognize the potential of people with disabilities.”

Coyotes Sled Hockey

Special report from ASU student Karenna Guzman

Sled hockey is a sport where people with physical disabilities are able to play hockey with the same rules, but different equipment.

Some NHL teams are affiliated with a sled hockey team that adopts their same name and jerseys. The Coyotes are Arizona’s sled hockey team that play at Alltel Ice Den in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“I played pick-up hockey almost every night (in Minnesota) but I did not get to play ice hockey until after I lost my leg,” Mike Schulenberg said, a defensive player on the Coyotes sled hockey team.

Schulenberg lost his leg when he was 25. He had battled for 10 years trying to help his leg recover after getting cancer in it when he was 15.

He played on the Minnesota sled hockey team for seven years before moving to Arizona and joining their team in 2017.

“We used to play against the Arizona team when we were in tournaments when I was in Minnesota so I already knew some of the people, when I moved I contacted them and started skating down here,” Schulenberg said.

Sled hockey is played with two sticks, one in each hand, to hit the puck as well as to help the players push themselves forward in the sleds. The sticks are roughly one third the size of typical hockey sticks, the NHL website states.

The players sit and are strapped into their sleds which have a blade on the bottom to glide across the ice. The game is played with the same rules as hockey, but the equipment is adapted to let people who can’t use their legs play the game, Schulenberg said.

Paul Crane started the team in 2004 and has been a coach as well as a player ever since.

“I help look for funding along with others from different sponsors, that’s what helps run the team so we have ice and have travel,” Crane said.

Since Crane is both a player and a coach he helps to organize the practices and comes up with different drills that can challenge and advance the skills of the team, he said.

In Crane’s 15 years of coaching the team he said that he has seen people join with skill levels from beginner to professional.

He said when teaching people the sport, usually the hardest part is teaching them to find their balance with the sled and learning to maneuver using the sticks.

“Everybody advances differently, you just have to get them in the sled and get them out there, teach them to push and turn and then puck handling and they go on from there,” Crane said.

People of any skill level can join this team whether they have never played before or are a Paralympian. However, only three able-bodied people are allowed on each team, Schulenberg said.

Joe Hamilton is another player on the Coyotes sled hockey team. He said he joined in 2010 when he first heard about the team and had never played sled hockey before.

“I picked it up really quick, it’s kind of like monoskiing, it’s all balance and that is the hardest part,” Hamilton said.

He said he heard about the team through a friend who knew another sled hockey player. Hamilton went to one of the tournament games that same week and said he joined right away.

The Coyotes sled hockey won their first tournament game of 2018 on March 2 against the Los Angeles Kings in Scottsdale.

Schulenberg said despite some rough weekends trying to win games this season, they hope to advance as far as possible in the tournament and hope to take the championship.

The team last won the U.S. championship in 2015.

Easter activities for kids with disabilities

Local CBS station in Dallas/ Fort Worth visited a festive Easter egg hunt designed specifically for kids with disabilities. The video report, posted to YouTube, describes how the eggs make loud beeps so that people with sensory disabilities can find them. The event was organized by local community members and many parents  appreciated how the overall tone of the festivities was tailored to accommodate kids with high anxiety.

Rates of unemployment due to disability finally declining after years of upward trend

Former U.S. Treasury economist Ernie Tedeschi wrote a guest column for the New York Times analyzing recent labor force employment data. Tedeschi sourced his information from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and discovered promising signs that people with disabilities are returning to the labor force. Check out Tedeschi’s full report in NYT and readers’ comments about why the trend is occurring.