February 2015 
Vol. 2
Table of Contents


Max and Matt sitting at Florida State University.note  A note from Matt....       
By: Matthew Dietz   


This Month, DIG achieved a major victory by ensuring that a student with a disability is permitted to have a service animal in school.  The Court upheld the tenet that a person with a disability has a fundamental right to the accommodation of that person's choice.  That choice, as long as it is reasonable, cannot  be taken from that person by the government, housing provider, or employer.  In February, our newsletter will focus on the use of alternative accommodations for persons with disabilities.

circular chart of complementary and alternative medicine. alternativeAlternative Forms of Therapy

By: Anastasia Gaertner

            Alternative forms of therapy can be a beneficial supplement or substitute for treating a variety of physical and psychological diseases and symptoms. Alternative therapy refers to any treatment that is used in place of traditional medical or therapeutic care, while complementary therapy refers to any form of treatment that is used in conjunction with traditional medicine.

 There are many different kinds of alternate therapies, and there are several different classifications for a variety of diverse treatments. We have listed several different types throughout the newsletter, these therapies use different techniques and different mediums to address emotional, cognitive, physical, and social needs to promote greater well-being. Incorporating the use of one or multiple different kinds of therapy or treatment can have a significant impact on one's overall health and well-being.

julie Kids Crusaders Corner  Kids Crusaders Logo
This is Part 2 of Julie's story.  Stay tuned for more in the next newsetter.   


Welcome back Crusaders! Greetings from Upstate New York where we are currently a balmy -2 degrees with expected wind chills to hit all-time lows in the (negative) - 20's tomorrow. Needless to say, we are buried under snow that looks like it won't melt until November at which point winter can begin once again!  

                   Nick with his micky mouse stuffed animal at Disney                            

Last month I left off with the first part of my solo trip to Disney with my son Nick. We had somehow managed to survive our pirate adventures and were about to embark on the rest of our day. So welcome back as I continue to magically relive the memories from a truly great trip.   Nick getting hugged by Winne the Pooh

Nick and I continued our journey through the Magic Kingdom. As the day progressed, transfers onto rides became easier, and everything seemed to just flow without difficulty. The weather was beautiful, Nick was beyond happy and I was over the moon to be spending this time with him. We did his favorite rides, with Disney allowing him to stay on each ride for as many times as he wanted; to eliminate the Nick smiling at the pool in Disney.need for me to keep transferring him and waiting again. It's A Small World became extremely small with an all-time record (for us) of circling around 9 times. (While this made Nick extremely happy, I do not recommend doing this without a break as the catchy theme song will remain stuck in your head for many, many months in multiple languages.)   Julie, Nick, and a giant Mickey Mouse stuffed animal.
We rode The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh 6 times consecutively (which I loved because he didn't have to transfer out of his wheelchair and I happen to be a lifelong Pooh fan.) And a fairly new attraction (at least for our visit) was called Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. (click here to read more) 


Can it prevent disease?

By: Sharon Langer


In the past 20 years there have been many studies conducted that measured the therapeutic value of human-animal interaction. A companion animal may reduce anxiety, loneliness, and depression and thus delay the onset, decrease severity, or even slow the progression of stress-related conditions. Pets can stimulate someone to exercise, provide social support, and can help someone socialize in a group setting. They can be our therapists as well as our companions. Pets have been shown to be a source of tactile comfort by increasing sensory stimulation while decreasing blood pressure and heart rate. (click here to read more)

If you are interested in volunteering please contact Sharon Langer at Sharon@justdigit.org

a lady in three different yoga positions.  1- standing, 2- standing with leg arched back, 3-sitting with leg arched back.  The sun is bright behind the picture. Body therapies involve manipulating the body or incorporating movement to relieve stress in an area of the body and promote healing. Some examples of body therapy include chiropractic medicine, massage therapy, yoga, and Tai chi. 

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Headshot of Aaron Bates dressed in a suit and tie. Legislative Update:

Medical Marijuana

By: Aaron Carter Bates


One of the most-watched issues during the 2014 election cycle was the Amendment 2 petition to legalize medical marijuana. Requiring a constitutional amendment, the 2014 initiative, originally titled "Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions," did not receive enough votes for passage. In early January, however, proponents of the initiative issued a revised petition for vote during the 2016 election cycle. The new initiative is titled, "Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions," and seeks to eliminate some of the self-imposed obstacles present during the 2014 attempts to legalize marijuana. (click here  read more)


                  The Florida Medical Marijuana Act  


mortar and pestle with herbs around it. There are also alternative medicines, which include treatments such as acupuncture, herbal medicines, and homeopathic remedies.

Randee Breiter and Debbie Dietz standing at the FIU Public Interest Resource Fair.  






Thank You Randee Breiter and FIU College of Law for inviting us to the Public Interest Resource Fair.  



Rachel and Bobby at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Franceexercise

The Benefits of Exercise

By: Rachel Goldstein


When there is 'so much to do and so little time' for many of us making time for exercise is often hard to do. When you also have anxiety or depression, exercise is often the last thing you feel like doing. However, physical activity and exercise can make a big difference in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression and leave you feeling a lot better. Engaging in regular exercise can help ease stress, anxiety and depression due to the increased release of chemicals in your body that make you feel good and the increase in body temperature that may result in a calming effect and reduction in muscle tension. Exercise and physical activity have been found to be very effective at improving the ability to sleep, reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. Exercising and physical activity also have psychological benefits as they can give you a chance to be in a social setting, can boost your self-confidence and can help to distract your worrying mind. (click here to read more)



3 arrows that say 1. your say, 2. my say, 3. compromise. mediation


By: Lester Langer


Over the next few months this column will explain a process known as Alternative Dispute Resolution commonly called ADR. ADR is not new. It has been around for thousands of years in one form or another. Rather than the parties fighting it out, think of the two gun fighters facing each other in the middle of the street, a third party helps the parties resolve the issue. Whether that was the King, like King Solomon splitting the baby, or the gladiators being substituted for a war, or buying your spot out of the war, like in the civil war or the tribal chief deciding the issue in less civilized times. An uninterested or neutral person was called upon to help resolve the dispute.

The first form of ADR we will discuss next time in the most common, Mediation.

If you have questions about mediation please email me so I can try to answer them for you directly or through this column.

Lester Langer

Retired Circuit Judge and Florida Supreme Court Certified Civil Mediator


Lester Langer speaking at the Coral Gables Bar Association on Mediation
Speaking at the Coral Gables Bar Associaton


walletcardThe Wallet Card Project 

By: Debbie Dietz  


It has been an amazing month for The Wallet Card Project.  We have received over 600 requests for wallet cards.  We are in the process of making the cards as fast as we can.  Please be patient, it is taking us about two weeks to make the cards.  We have received emails and calls from around the country asking about the project.  We are in the process of making materials that can be sent out to organizations that are interested in bringing our project to their area.  Stay tuned, we should have everything ready by next month.  We are also working on a second video that will be specifically geared towards law enforcement.


Erynn, Hui, Anastasia, Tera, & Jonathan working on making wallet cards.  

Thank you to everyone that helped us make wallet cards this month.  Michelle, Max, Julia, Tera, Anastasia, Jonathan, Monica, and Erynn.



Thank you to Oliver Redsten from UM TV Newsvision for his story about The Wallet Card Project.  You need to fast forward to 12:38 minutes to see the story.



Our video is done!  We are so excited to share it with you.   You can watch the video on or website or at:  https://vimeo.com/117175394 


You can order your own wallet card for free on our website at: http://www.justdigit.org/wallet-cards/.


Just fill out the online form and we will have them mailed to you in about 2 weeks.  If you want to customize the card, please add the details in the comments section.


Sharon standing next to the DIG banner at the One Billion Rising Event. One Billion Rising

Thousands of students, community leaders, celebrities and survivors  descended on the Wolfson Campus of Miami Dade College (MDC) on Thursday, Feb. 12, to participate in the One Billion Rising movement to end human trafficking and the abuse of women worldwide.


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head shot of Lesly Quin DIG would like to introduce you to Lesly Quin


Lesly is an expert in advocacy, SSA benefits, work incentives, Medicare and state and federal benefits. She has agreed to help our DIG NEWSLETTER readers with information, assistance when possible and guidance as part of a new collaboration. These are all complicated and difficult areas to navigate by yourself and having a trained advocate will help in so many ways.


We are hoping this will become a regular spot in the Newsletter with helpful tips. If you would like to reach out to Lesly contact Jonathan in our office at 305 669 2822 or email him at: info@justdigit.org


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picture of people dancing some people are standing and some people are using wheelchairs.

Therapy that involves the senses is most often art, music, or dance therapy.


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: www.yourupwardjourney.com 


Facebook and Twitter: Your Upward Journey




A basket of colored chocolate medallions and 3 chocolate hand that say I love you in ASL. 

picture of a person sitting and meditating with the sun behind them. Mind therapy uses the power of the mind to promote improved mental and emotional health and well-being. Meditation and hypnosis are examples of mind therapies.


Matt, Anthony, Monica, and Stevie the dog. Litigation Update:  Anthony gets to keep Stevie in School! 

By: Matthew Dietz 

On February 10, 2014, United States District Court Judge Beth Bloom ruled that Broward County School District violated Anthony Merchante's rights, as a child with a disability, by denying his right to have a seizure alert animal accompany him at his elementary school. (click here to read more)


A copy of an edited version of the decision is here.

On Saturday, February 21, 2015, The Miami Herald published an article by Carol Marbin Miller about Anthony's victory and some great pictures and a video of Anthony, Stevie, and Monica Alboniga. 

Miami Herald Story 

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 debbie@justdigit.org.

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