August 2015      
Volume 8      
Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter   View our profile on LinkedIn   

Table of Contents

A Note from Matt

DIG in the News

Stampede Houston

Kids Crusaders



Out and About with DIG

T4 Program: A Glance at the Past and Present

My Experience Interning at DIG

FEMA -- PSA to help PWD prepare for Emergencies

Paralympic Sports in Rio

The Wallet Card Project

Work Incentives: Protecting Health Coverage

Litigation: Fired Because of Cancer

A Parcel of Penguins


   notefrommattA Note from Matt.....
Back to School - This graphic is the symbol of accessibility at Florida State University.  It reflects the importance of a free and equal education for all persons with disabilities, which is essential to ensure that there are persons with disabilities who are leaders in society, including,  lawyers, doctors, teachers, politicians, and every single other profession.  According to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the right to education is a cornerstone of full societal inclusion.  The convention (of which the United Sates has not adopted) requires nations to ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning directed to:
(1)  The full development of human potential and sense of dignity and self-worth, and the strengthening of respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and human diversity;
(2) The development by persons with disabilities of their personality, talents and creativity, as well as their mental and physical abilities, to their fullest potential;
(3) Enabling persons with disabilities to participate effectively in a free society.
Without education and inclusion, there will be no effective enforcement of Disability Rights. 
diginnews clip art of a newspaper that is folded   DIG in the News 
Karen Peterson and Dancers
Exercise is an important aspect of health that benefits one's physical and mental fitness. The key to exercising effectively is simply being active. However, people with limited physical abilities may find it difficultTwo dancers, one in a wheelchair, perform a dance routine to find a mode of exercise that is possible to practice actively. In order to create a mode of physical exercise and emotional creativity for people with mixed abilities, Karen Peterson, a long-time Miami choreographer, created a dance troupe of 12 members in 1990. Karen Peterson and Dancers has traveled and performed in over 20 countries since its existence, and includes dancers who use wheelchairs. Through inclusion and integration of those with limited physical abilities, more opportunities for active exercise are created.
stampede Stampede Houston
"We are more than happy to have you all with us to experance a bit of TEXAS. Unfortunately the Law in Texas does not allow us to serve alcohol drinks to high functing individuals."     Kelly @ Stampede Houston
Becky Dowling runs a program in the Metro Atlanta area called "Just" People, which provides support services and housing to persons with developmental disabilities. These folks are what is considered "high functioning" and are able to do many activities of daily living on their own, and need some support services on a daily or weekly basis to assist them in living independently. As part of this program, "Just" people has a social component, where the participants in the program can do outings every weekend, from bowling and movie night to international cruises. The "Just" People community has been to eighteen cruises in the past twenty years.
So, it was not unusual for the "Just" People community to want to have a taste of some good 'ole Texas hospitality, do a little line dancing, the tango with the mechanical bull, and down a few buds down in Houston Texas. So, director, Betty Dowling set up a trip to take 88 people in the "Just" People community to Houston to have a taste of Texas, and book a party at Stampede Houston.
They were told that they all were welcome down at Stampede Houston, and they'll take their money and let them "experance a bit of TEXAS. Unfortunately the Law in Texas does not allow us to serve alcohol drinks to high functing individuals."   click here to read more
julie  Kids Crusaders Corner Kids Crusaders Logo

Welcome to this month's edition of Kids Crusaders. It is so hard to believe that August is coming to a close. I'd like to open this month's article by saying that in the beginning of 2014 when I was asked to write for the monthly newsletter for DIG, I was honored. This would be an outlet where I could share my experiences of raising a child with special needs and to let other families know that they are never alone on their journeys. Everyone at DIG has become like family to me and though geographical locations may divide us, every month our hearts once again unite us. A very special thanks to Debbie Dietz for tackling the task of pulling all of the articles together and making this newsletter come to life. (An added thanks for letting me keep my articles personal and real, sometimes raw with emotion and sometimes filled with fun and adventure; for never getting upset with my procrastination!) Nick smiling in his wheelchair on the side of the pool.
So on with August and the topic "exercise and the quality of life." At first when I asked Debbie what the topic was going to be for August, I have to admit I felt stumped. I could feel a major writers block coming on. In the world of parenting a child with special needs (who happens to be an adult now, still living at home with us), "exercise and quality of life" didn't feel like they naturally belonged in the same sentence. Every day is exercise when you are parenting; those of use with special needs children sometimes have a different curve ball that gets thrown in. I am a strong aNick swimming in the pool with his water wings and life jacket.dvocate for giving my son Nick the best quality of life that I possibly can. Exercise, outside of caring for Nick, should be equally important so that I will always be healthy and strong enough to continue doing the things that we enjoy doing together.
One of Nick's favorite activities is swimming. In the water he is free. Free to move around and to enjoy the sensory stimulation of the water and the relaxation it brings to his overworked and exhausted Nick swimming with a little baby on his back. muscles. Throughout the years, we have tried many different floatation devices and have even gotten creative making some of our own out of pool noodles. Not everything worked perfectly, but we always tried. For the past 8 years, we have found that the best thing for Nick to use in the water is a heavy duty life jacket (used for water skiing) and inflatable arm wings. With those as a combination he has full independence in the water. click here to read more.

 A very popular trend these days is MINDFULNESS. The definition of mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. Though it has its roots in Buddhist meditation, Mindfulness has entered the mainstream American lifestyle and is becoming more and more popular as a way to survive the stress of life these days. While I have heard a lot about Mindfulness over the last five years, I began my research on the internet of course and found that there is a lot there and that mindfulness can be applied to our eating as well as our daily lifestyle. It can be practiced in a group, at home alone, over the internet and in any location. The University Of Miami School Of Law has been a leader in trying to bring this practice to lawyers and the legal profession. There is even a law school course now called Mindfulness in Law and there are programs in over 20 law schools. You can take courses on line or in groups all over Miami. It requires practice and time, which we all are short on BUT... if the goal is less stress and anxiety it might be worth it. If any of you reading this practice Mindfulness do you recommend it?? What are your thoughts?? Let me know at . If you feel life is passing you by?? Maybe this is a solution.

Sharon Langer and Katy Sorenson at the radio station On July 24, 2015, Sharon Langer appeared on the GREY ZONE (880AM), a local political show owned by Bloomberg Radio. She was a guest of GUEST HOST Katy Sorenson, former Miami Dade County Commissioner and current CEO of The Good Government Initiative at the University of Miami. The topic was the child welfare system in Florida and Sharon was joined by Carol Marbin Miller, award winning Miami Herald investigative journalist and Nelson Hincapie, CEO of Voices for Children.

scales of justice
 guardvideoGuardianship Video


Recently the Disabilities Independency Group partnered with the Dade County Legal Aid Society and the Statewide GAL Office to present the training "Guardianship and Guardian Advocate Training for Attorneys." The training features a distinguished panel including the Honorable Maria M. Korvick. The presentation includes identifying developmental disabilities, everything you need to know about plenary guardianship and guardian advocates, and how to interview children with disabilities. The training was approved by the Florida Bar for 3.0 Hours of CLE credit. Watch the video on the Florida Statewide GAL Program website.

And then click the link to the video:


If you are interested in volunteering please contact Sharon Langer at
symbol for twitter, a blue square with a white lower case t. Follow us on Twitter: a blue twitter bird in a white square.


  rachel Yoga  
By: Rachel Goldstein Rachel Goldstein

Close your eyes (not while reading my article, of course!), imagine you are in a quiet room with soft music streaming, you are focused on your breathing (instead of your endless to-do list) and an instructor is calmly directing you on where to place your hands and feet. You are in a yoga class and I promise you will feel better after. (I don't make promises I can't keep!) A lady with a prosthetic leg in a yoga position.
Practicing yoga has many benefits and can improve flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance. For me, yoga helps to reduce anxiety and stress and even helps me sleep better. Yoga is beneficial for everyone because of the physical postures and focus on breathing. Each pose can be modified or adapted to meet the needs of the student so regardless of ability level yoga is for everyone. Yoga postures can be performed while seated in a chair or wheelchair and may be performed with assistance from the instructoTwo women in wheelchairs stretching their arms.r as needed. In a yoga class, students usually watch an instructor to learn how to properly complete each position. For students with low vision or who are blind an instructor can easily incorporate more spoken instructions and feedback on what to change to accurately complete each yoga pose. click here to read more.

outandabout clip art of a suitcase covered in travel stickersOut and About with DIG 
August 26            FL Legal Services Webinar
Sept 11                Animal Partners Meeting
Sept 16-19           Florida Bar  Fall Meetings, Tampa, FL
Sept 24-25          Children's Legal Services (CLS) Conference, Tampa, FL
Oct 26-28            Southeastern Regional Institute on Deafness (SERID)  2015 Conference, Myrtle Beach, SC
Nov 5-7               Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD)  16TH Annual National Conference, Rosemont, IL
Nov 18-20           OCALICON , Columbus, OH
Nov 19                Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Florida  Luncheon
Receiving an award for Disability and Diversity program for Miami Dade FAWL, Dade County Bar Assoc. and DIG at the Florida Bar Bd. Of Governors meeting - with Jason M. Murray, Ileana Cruz-Bongini and Matthew Ridgely at Biltmore Hotel on July 24, 2015.
Matt at the Florida Bar Board of Govenors Meeting on July 2015 with Jason Murray and Ileana Cruz-Bongini


T4 Program: A Glance at the Past and Present
By: Claudia Luna    Headshot of our intern Claudia
This summer, I had an incredible opportunity to spend a month abroad in Berlin, Germany. As such a historically significant city, I made it a priority to tour as many museums and monuments as possible. WhPart of the memorial is shown. The majority of the long blue glass wall is visible with a long lower grey counter running parallel to the wall and directly in front of it. The counter has written text and multimedia screens on it. The picture has been takeile planning for the trip, I did a lot of research about the various memorials and was surprised to learn that people with disabilities were the first to be targeted by the Nazi regime and the last to receive a monument recognizing their history.
I dug deeper into the history of the victims and was horrified by what I discovered. In January of 1940, doctors began to meet atInformation from the memorial is displayed. The information has been transcribed into two columns of braille. There are also buttons running top to bottom that activate the multimedia display screen. a central office at TiegartenstraBe 4 (where the memorial site is now located.) Within those walls, doctors determined who would be targeted based on "usefulness" and ability to contribute to the work force. Those selected would be subject to forced sterilizations or euthanasia. People with intellectual disabilities were the first to be targeted by this Nazi program, known as the T4 Program. click here to read more.
  royal My Experience Interning at DIG
By: Royal Newman III   Royal holding his dog Scooter.  Scooter is wearing a santa hat.
         Working with Disability Independence Group Inc. (DIG) this summer exposed me to entirely new communities. Not only was I given the chance to see and participate in the internal workings of a law firm as they prepared for court, I was also able to interact with clients and partake in depositions. On multiple occasions, DIG provided opportunities to visit the courthouses. Everyone working with DIG went out of their way to help myself and the other interns understand and the concepts and work that went into each case at each step. But the most interesting community I was exposed to was the disabled community. click here to read more.


A baseball coach teaches the player how to swing a bat.
Memorial Healthcare System Adaptive Sports Program
Sports and exercise are not activities that can only be enjoyed by athletes. They are also activities that help those with physical health impairments and conditions to become active and healthy. Memorial Healthcare System is striving to promote and spread this message by creating their own Adaptive Sports Program to provide recreational and athletic experiences for those with disabilities. Their program includes strength & conditioning classes, as well as speed & agility classes in conjunction with baseball & softball training to provide this opportunity for those who qualify. The message behind this program supports the idea that exercise and sports are activities that everyone can participate in.
The  Federal Emergency Management Agency  (FEMA) and the Ad Council have released a new public service announcement (PSA) to raise awareness about the importance of being prepared for emergencies. " We Prepare Every Day " is the first in a series of videos that show people with disabilities taking steps to prepare themselves and their families for emergencies. The PSA includes open captioning, a  certified deaf interpreter  and  audio descriptions .

  danielle  Paralympic Sports in RioThe logo for the 2016 Paralympic Games that will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
By: Danielle Fine    
With the 2016 Paralympic Games, happening in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next year in September, it makes one wonder about what the athletes of the Paralympics will be doing in the meantime before the Games start. One obvious assumption that can be made is that each of the Paralympic athletes will be hard at work, training and practicing for each of their respective Paralympic events, in the countries they will be representing, all around the world. Among the various sport events that will take place during the 2016 Paralympics are; Archery, and Para-Equestrian Dressage. Those two are two of the various Summer Paralympic sports that are very fascinating for me to watch. For those who do not know what either of those events are or what they entail, allow me to explain them.
            The Paralympic version of the sport of archery may be played by people with amputations, paralysis or paresis (paraplegics and quadriplegics), cerebral palsy, dysfunctional and progressive diseases, such as muscular atrophy and sclerosis, with disorders of the joints, spinal problems and multiple disabilities, according to the World Archery Federation. The two types of bows that are used in Paralympic archery are the recurve bow and the compound bow. As a person with a disability, though one that is not obviously seen, and a fan of archery, I think it's cool that even people with disabilities can compete in archery events in an international Games that is similar to the Olympic Games.
According to International Equestrian Federation (known by French acronym FEI), para-equestrian dressage events are open to athletes with five different classes of disability. Depending on how participants are classified, they will perform different dressage routines with their horse. During competitions, male and female riders compete together without gender distinctions. Whether competing as individuals, or in a team, each performance is assessed by a jury, and the rider and horse with the best score win. Whenever I watch the Para-Equestrian dressage events, I'm always astounded by how the athletes from the different countries, whom have disabilities, can do that so incredibly well and skillfully.
Like our Animal Partners Facebook page
Animal Partners Logo


Amazon smile logo.

                                Shop Amazon Smile

Jon Kent, Dr. Diane Adreon, Alex Kent, Debbie Dietz (standing) and Lt. Barta and Haley Moss (sitting).  The crew and actors for the 2nd Wallet Card video. walletcard   The Wallet Card Project


Go to our website to watch the video and sign up for a wallet card: 



lesly Work Incentives Protecting Health Coverage for People with Disabilities
head shot of Lesly Quin
As long as your disabling condition still meets our rules, you can keep your Medicare coverage for at least 8 ½ years after you return to work. (The 8 ½ years includes your nine month trial work Period)
Your Medicare hospital insurance (Part A) coverage is premium-free. Your Medicare medical insurance (Part B) coverage will also continue. You or a third party (if applicable) will continue to pay for Part B. If your Social Security Disability Insurance cash benefits stop due to your work, you or a third party (if applicable) will be billed every 3 months for your medical insurance premiums. If you are receiving cash benefits, your medical insurance premiums will be deducted monthly from your check. click here to read more.
A basket of colored chocolate medallions and 3 chocolate hand that say I love you in ASL.

Logo for the fair housing video series.   

Please click

The cover of the book Your Upward Journey by Patricia Bochi     Head shot of Patricia Bochi. She is in front of a boat that is in the water.
In a nutshell, Your Upward Journey: It Is Easier Than You Think!, is a three-part project (book, self-help seminars and merchandise sale). I intend to promote the book through self-help seminars and sale of merchandise, such as mugs, journals etc.

 The website is:                                 Facebook and Twitter: Your Upward Journey
    litigation Litigation: Fired Because of Cancer
Gregorio Reyes was hired in October  2007, as the Regional Sales Manager for the Caribbean for IDEX in the Fluid and Metering Segment.  IDEX is a three billion dollar corporation that specializes in fluid and metering technologies, health and science technologies, dispensing equipment, and fire, safety and other diversified products.
Since he was hMr. Reyes and his two sons standing together outside in front of a car.ired, Gregorio's role as Regional Manager was to manage the business through distribution for IDEX companies that were represented throughout the Caribbean region.
In November 2010, Gregorio was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer, hospitalized, and underwent surgery.  Immediately thereafter, Gregorio reported to his supervisor, Christopher Clarke, what had transpired and that it would be a lengthy recuperation process. Gregorio told Mr. Clark that he required chemotherapy starting in January, with a total of 12 bi-weekly sessions. The process, barring any complications, would take from 6-8 months.  click here to read more

Clip art that says thank you.

Thank you to our amazing interns and summer staff.

Royal Newman, III                                  Crystal Martin

Marlon Velez                                           Claudia Luna

Danielle Fine                                           Samuel Rony

Anthony Bernal                                       Monica Sabates

Renee Pauline Perez                                Claudia Romero


penuins A colored drawing of an open box with 3 small penguins surrounded by stuffing.
A Parcel of Penguins
Thank you to Claire's and Amy Bader for bringing fun presents to the kids at Broward Children's Center on the same day that Max brought his book and read it out loud.
Cali the dog dressing up with the kids. Cali is wearing a pink tutu.
Amy and Claudia passing out gifts donated by Claire's.

Max reading his book to the children at Broward Children's Center. Group picture of DIG staff visiting Broward Children's Center.
For more information about DIG and to find out how you can be involved, please call or email our executive director, Debbie Dietz at 305-669-2822 or 

Disability Independence Group, Inc.
Expanding Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
Donate Now!

Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.